Simply put, the term "web design" describes the layout of websites on the internet. Instead of software development, it usually refers to the user experience components of website development. The primary focus of web design used to be creating websites for desktop browsers; however, in the mid-2010s, designing for mobile devices and tablets gained significance.
A web designer is responsible for a website’s appearance, layout, and even content. Appearance refers to the colors, text, and images utilized, while layout refers to how data is structured and categorized. An effective web design needs to be user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and appropriate for the target audience, as well as the brand of the website.
In this article, we will cover the common methods for designing a website and how technology relates to the process of web design.
"Responsive" and "adaptive" design are two of the most popular methods for creating websites that function well on both desktop and mobile devices. In adaptive design, the website content is fixed in layout sizes that correspond to typical screen sizes, while in responsive design, information moves dynamically based on the screen size. To preserve user engagement and trust, it is essential to build a consistent layout across devices.
Most websites use responsive design due to its diversity. Designers need to consider all the screens and devices a user might view the website on to build a responsive design. If they have not considered small sizes, some of the layout may operate and align perfectly on a desktop view, but some will scale poorly.
Since responsive design can be challenging, designers must be cautious when giving up control of how their work will appear. If a designer is also in charge of the content, they might need to diversify their skill set so that they could benefit from having complete control over the final input.
With adaptive design, the website is able to recognize the user’s device type and adjust the template being used to fit that screen. The advantage is that the designer can have more control over the components and user experience; however, the process of customizing for each device type takes more time.
The various screen sizes utilized in adaptive design are often referred to as “breakpoints”. For instance, a landing page of a website will be created to be accessed on a desktop, tablet, and mobile device. The three breakpoints here would show how the design will change. Consequently, the designer may target a template for a specific device category rather than having to develop for particular devices.
Web designers often focus on the technical aspects of the design process, such as wireframes (a wireframe is a schematic or blueprint that is useful for helping programmers and designers think and communicate about the structure of the software or website they are building), code, and content management. However, how you incorporate social media buttons or even striking images is not what makes design amazing. Great design often constitutes a website development procedure that is in line with a broad and effective strategy.
Websites with excellent design provide much more than just aesthetics. Through a range of indicators, such as graphics, text, and interactions, they appeal to visitors and help them understand the product, company, and brand. All this means that each element of the website must contribute to a clear objective.
Here are some of the main key points to keep in mind while designing a website:
Identifying the purpose: Collaborating with the customer to identify the objectives that the website must achieve. Specifically, what it does. In this phase, the following should be addressed: Who is the target audience? What are they hoping to find and accomplish on the website? Is the main goal of the website to inform, to sell, or to entertain? Who are the website’s competitors, and can it be inspired by them?
Addressing these questions is the most crucial step in any website development process. If the answers are not clear, the project as a whole may go in the wrong direction.
Defining the scope: Once the objectives are clear, the project’s scope can now be defined. Specifically, what features and web pages are needed for the site to achieve its goal, as well as establish a timeline.
Sitemap and wireframe: With the scope clearly established, now it is time to create the sitemap and the wireframe and determine how the features and content that are defined in the scope definition will interact with one another.
The content: With an overall structure of the website in mind, it is now possible to begin developing the content for the individual pages. It is important to take SEO (Search Engine Optimization) into account. SEO helps keep the individual pages narrowly focused on a single subject and ultimately inspire designers to come up with real authentic content.
Every website needs the correct keywords and phrases to be successful. Google Keyword Planner is a highly effective tool that displays the search volume for potential target words and phrases, allowing the user to focus on what real people are searching for online. The content strategy needs to keep up with search engine algorithms since they are ever-evolving. That is why it is crucial to center the website design technique on SEO-friendly content, and keywords are an important part of that. Additionally, the H1 tag, meta description, and body text should also contain keywords. Well-written, informative, and keyword-rich content is more likely to get indexed by search engines, which makes the website more accessible.
The visuals: Deciding on visual components can be tricky. Depending on the client, the visual branding might already be defined. If this is not the case, the visual language can be developed from scratch. Tools such as style tiles (aesthetic prototypes for a website), collages (an unorthodox visual approach to design that focuses on typography, patterns, images, colors, icons, etc.), and mood boards (physical or digital collages that arrange images, materials, text, and other design elements into a format that's representative of the final design's style) can be used in this process.
Testing: When all is said and done, it is time to test everything and make sure it is working properly. It is important to conduct a test using a variety of devices with automated site crawlers and address the concerns from user experience to broken links. Make sure to test each page in detail to ensure that all the links are functional and that the website loads properly on all browsers and devices. Small coding mistakes may cause errors, and while finding and fixing them can be difficult, it is important to do so before online visitors are exposed to a broken website.
Launch: Once the test is successful and everything is functioning properly, it is time to organize and carry out the website launch! This should involve scheduling the launch and developing communication strategies such as when the website will be launched and how the online community will be informed.
A website’s design and programming should consider various factors, such as web design software, the use of cascading style sheets (CSS), and programming technologies on the client and server side.
The design software tools are crucial for building a web page since they determine how quickly the desired outcome will be achieved. The goals and the degree of complexity of the design will have an impact on the programs that are chosen. The ideal choice would be the one that makes the work easier in terms of splitting image sizes and page layouts more efficiently. Some of the most popular design software includes Photoshop and CorelDRAW for photo editing and Dreamweaver and Notepad++ for HTML (HyperText Markup Language) editing.
A design is initially created in the software as a drawing, and using specific optimization elements, the drawing is converted into code so that it may be seen as clearly as possible. This is where the aforementioned cascading style sheets (CSS) become relevant.
In order to build a website, a variety of web design technologies need to be used. Here are some of the most important technologies with which you need to be familiar:
HTML & CSS
A website’s foundational technologies are HTML and CSS. These codes explain to browsers the components that make up the website and how they should be displayed. Both codes are necessary to communicate with browsers and properly display the website’s content.
Another web development item is the framework. Framework is software that supports web services and applications. This web design technology essentially helps you create your website. Django, Yii Framework, and Laravel are among the most popular tools that can be used for the framework.
Next on the list for web development technology is programming language. Computers and browsers use this language for communicating what they display. Programming language is quite important when it comes to effectively communicating ideas across the computers and browsers, consequently allowing visitors to navigate through the website problem-free. Laravel, Ruby, and Python are among the most used tools for programming languages.
Data format technology is also another important aspect of web development. The coding data is arranged according to its format. Since data can take the form of many different structures, a specific data format needs to be adopted to ensure that the website looks consistent everywhere. There are three main options of data format to choose from:
CSV: Comma Separated Values (CSV) is a plain text format that contains data. This format uses commas to separate the values in a file and merely contains letters and numbers.
XML: Similar to HTML, XML was designed to store and convey data while being self-descriptive. XML is basically just information that is enclosed in tags.
The final piece of web design technology that needs to be mentioned is databases. This is where all the website data is stored. There are two formats of data: SQL and NoSQL. While both formats are viable options, understanding the difference between them is crucial when it comes to deciding on the database that will be used.
SQL databases are primarily referred to as “Relational” databases, whereas NoSQL databases are called “Non-Relational” or “Distributed” databases.
SQL defines data based structured query language and it is one of the safest solutions out there, especially for more complex queries. However, it could be limiting since it requires preset schemas to establish its structure. Keep in mind that all data needs to follow the same structure. So, this database requires a lot of pre-planning because a change in the structure would be both challenging and disruptive to the whole system.
NoSQL has a dynamic schema for unstructured data, which means the data can be stored in many ways. Because of its flexibility, documents can be created without a predefined structure. Additionally, each document can have a different structure. Every database has different syntax, and you can keep adding fields as you go.
There are multiple database tools out there that you can benefit from, including MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, and Amazon DynamoDB.
All in all, designing a website can be overwhelming, and the process may seem hard to grasp. An effective web design needs to be both visually appealing and SEO-friendly. Form and function need to be balanced, and using the right technology allows web designers to create a cohesive, consistent, and user-friendly website.