No matter what you think, there is no way of avoiding the fact that great web design plays an essential in the modern world. Take the UK for example, which has one of the highest online populations in the world, with a almost 85% of all Brits connected to the internet. Yet each day, millions of people visit dozens of websites in search of information or entertainment, yet the majority of these sites will be forgotten moments after the visitor has left.
Why? Poor web design.
Or, to put it another way: Today’s internet user has access to an almost unlimited pool of websites and as a result, people have a short attention span. The number one reason for people abandoning websites in search of better alternatives is poorly thought out and uninspiring web design. Your website is a shop-window, so to grab hold of your audience and build the right kind of reputation, it’s imperative to focus on top quality web design.
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What is Web Design?
The design of a website refers to the planning and creation of a website’s front-end. It consists of numerous elements that will be examined in detail in the next section of the article.
The definition of web design involves much more than graphic elements and colours. It focuses on structure, hierarchy of information and navigability. In fact, menus – or website navigation – happen to be one of the most important factors in stimulating your audience to explore more content.
It’s a strategic approach towards enhancing your visitor’s experience. Good design highlights the most important elements of your website and gives visitors all of the tools needed to encourage engagement. The best designs are relevant, personalised and provide the target audience with the features and functionalities that they requires.
Essential Web Design Elements
Though good web design is personalised to address the needs of the desired visitors, there are certain universal elements that should be present in any web design regardless of industry or topic:
Proper utilisation of space
Space refers to just about everything on a web page – the placement of key elements, the availability of white space, the amount of space between different elements and the consistency in terms of spacing. All of these affect the structure and the appearance of a website.
The menu or menus of a website happen to be some of the most important design elements. The functionality and logical structure of the navigation will determine just how many pages the visitor is going to explore.
Content, typography and formatting
How is content being organised on the page? How is typography used to put emphasis on certain parts of the text? How are texts being formatted (sub-titles, bulleted and numbered lists, style and font changes to put emphasis, etc.). The design of content blocks is one of the most challenging yet integral parts of good website design.
Headers and footers
These are used to provide information and direct the visitor’s attention towards important elements – search boxes, calls to action, contact information, etc.
Colours and visuals
They can be used to set the mood, make a point and support the main content.
Buttons and link
What do they look like? How do they change when the visitor interacts with them? What’s their functionality and purpose?
Calls to action and forms
How to people submit their data to you if they want to find out more about your business or the services you offer?
If the worst should happen, what message appears to reassure visitors?
Popups and transitions
More common in HTML5 websites, dynamic backgrounds and transitions can add a layer of professionalism and creativity to your website.
Types of Web Design
Now that you have an idea about the elements of web design, it’s time to explore some of the different types of design. Web design can be classified in the following categories:
- Fixed design – The most common style of website, it refers to a static development that doesn’t get altered by the browser or device that it’s being viewed on. Fixed design is already becoming a thing of the past because of mobile browsing.
- Responsive design – This is design that responds to the screen that it’s being viewed on. Thus, the website will have one appearance when it’s being explored on a desktop screen and a completely different one when viewed on a smartphone. Responsive design is flexible and the flow of information is entirely dependent on the size and orientation of the screen.
- Mobile design – A mobile website design is created solely for viewing on a portable device. It isn’t responsive – all mobile device users will view the same site.
- eCommerce design – There are major differences between the design of a content-based and an ecommerce website. eCommerce design puts emphasis on the products and simplifies the online purchase experience making it easy to start a business from home.
Choosing the Best Designer
When trying to achieve the best possible version of your website, we recommend following our top ten tips to ensure that you end up working with an experienced and reputable designer.
The first and the most important step is reviewing the design agency’s previous work. What types of projects do they specialise in? Are there portfolio entries that look like the sort of site you want? Research the agency’s experience and ask to see any former projects they have worked on. Good design impacts engagement, retention rates and SEO. Reputable designers are aware of these facts and they know which elements deliver the best results.
Good designers will ask questions about your business, your online presence goals and the type of audience you want to target. These questions mean that the designer is thinking about personalisation and that’s a good thing. You don’t want just another generic design that will do little in terms of getting your audience engaged.
Finally, don’t hire a designer that promises you “guaranteed” results and first page Google rankings. No professional in the world of web development and design can make such promises come true. They should simply stick to the best practices and give you expert guidance. If you have a well-designed website, in time you’ll become capable of getting the desired results yourself.