Web design is the planning, organization and creation of websites for display on the internet. Web design includes elements of interface design, graphic design, coding, user experience design and search engine optimization (SEO).
More websites are built around scrolling than clicking, creating a better experience for users, especially those using tablets, phones and other devices.
Because of the shift to more users on various devices, the concept of "the fold" in web design is no longer relevant. Having important items, like a call-to-action "above the fold" (i.e. before the user had to start scrolling down the page) used to be incredibly important, but because websites vary so much in appearance from a desktop to a phone, there is less of a focus on putting the most important information near the top of the page and more of an emphasis on using bold, large images.
Websites have to be easy to understand. Most users today are very comfortable with browsing online, and now sites don't just have to be technically fast—they have to make their point quickly as well. Users will not stick around if a website is difficult to navigate or cluttered.
A web designer specializes in designing and building user interfaces online. Web designers are generally proficient in coding and programming and focus not just on the technical aspects of creating a website, but also the visual design and functionality.
A UX designer is a user experience designer. As the name suggests, this designer is focused on the user's experience on the site. For example, is the website easy to navigate? Do users know how to find what they're looking for quickly? A UX designer works to make the design functional for the user.
A UI designer is a user interface designer, and while they want the website to be easy to use as well, they also focus on elements of visual design, ensuring that the site is appealing to the eye and aesthetically pleasing.
A strong web design has several key principles:
Space: A website's use of space affects its readability and user experience. If there is little space between website elements, the site can feel cluttered, while too much space can leave users feel like they're scrolling endlessly.
Navigation: Moving around a website should be easy, and a user should have no problem finding exactly what they're looking for quickly. A complicated menu with multiple options can be overwhelming, while a simple menu allows users to easily get where they want to go.
About Section: Your About page should not be your life story or the complete history of your business from day one. It should be simple and focused, offering enough information to intrigue visitors, and should have an interesting and appealing design.
Contact Section: Make it easy for visitors to contact you, either with a designated Contact page in the menu or a contact form on your homepage—or both. The easier it is for users to get in touch with you, the more likely they are to do business with you.
Footer: Your footer should be useful and simple. This is the perfect place to add links to key pages on your site, as well as social media links.
Buttons and Icons: Your buttons and icons should have a consistent color theme that fits with your brand identity, as well as consistent typography and shape.
Images: Most people are very visual, and images are the best way to draw users into your website and keep them engaged. With images, you can show instead of just tell, demonstrating your products and what you have to offer.
Fonts: The fonts you choose for your website are critical. They have to be easy to read and visually compelling, and the words you feature in both your headers and your body copy have a huge impact on your search engine optimization.
There are a variety of tools you can use to design a website. Some are better for beginners, while others require more expertise.
WordPress: If you're designing a website for a business, you can't go wrong with WordPress. It's easy to use and not hard to learn, while offering you complete control over how your site looks and works.
Adobe Photoshop, InDesign & Illustrator: The Adobe family of products are widely used by designers all over the world and with good reason. Photoshop allows you to edit and correct images, Illustrator is focused on vector design and InDesign lets users create graphics. Each tool has a huge library of functions and works well with the others.
Google Web Designer: This tool allows you to create interactive content and fine-tune your design, as well as preview your project in the browser.
Dreamweaver: Adobe Dreamweaver allows users to directly code their web design without needing extensive expertise or knowledge of programming. The best part is it allows you to create a fully responsive design, optimizing your user experience for mobile and desktop.
The level of maintenance a website requires will depend on how it was designed, especially what platform it was built on. Websites built on WordPress can be updated with the click of a button, making the platform ideal for users who aren't familiar with the more technical aspects of web design and maintenance.
Responsive design means that a website adjusts to the screen it is being viewed on, whether that's a desktop computer or a mobile phone. But responsive design isn't just having a mobile and desktop version of your site—it also ensures that the content on the page adjusts to the size of the browser, making sure that your design is consistent across devices.
A web designer focuses more on the appearance and user experience of a site. They make sure that the design is cohesive and flows well from one element to the next.
A web developer is more focused on the functionality of a site and ensuring that every piece loads quickly and correctly and does exactly what it's supposed to do.
Some of the most common web design mistakes include:
No responsive design: With more and more users browsing the web on tablets and mobile phones, responsive design is essential to creating a positive user experience.
No clear call-to-action (CTA): Without a clear call-to-action on your page, the user doesn't know where to go or what to do next. Your CTA should encourage users to follow a clear path and take a specific action.
Hard-to-read fonts: With so many fonts available these days, it can be easy to opt for unique text, but if it's hard to read, users will quickly leave your site and look for a solution elsewhere.
Irrelevant or low-quality images: Your images should reflect your brand and what your prospects will receive when working with you. If your images are not relevant to your message, or if they're poor quality, it's unlikely that users will stay on your site long enough to work with you.
No clear contact info: If you want your visitors to work with you, they need to know how to contact you. Don't bury your contact information—instead, make it easy to find and let users know exactly how to get in touch with you and get their questions answered.
The best place to start to learn how to use WordPress is with WordPress itself. The platform offers tons of documentation that can help you get started with building our your site. You can also find a variety of tutorials for specific WordPress tasks on YouTube.
Depending on the complexity of the desired site, a web design process can take a few weeks or months to complete. At The Hopper Company LLC, we pride ourselves on creating quality designs with a quick turnaround. Our web build process takes 14-21 business days, depending on the number of pages and custom functions on your site.
In order to view an in-progress website while your old site is still LIVE, you will have to override your DNS with your local host file. This process is different depending on whether you use a Mac or a PC. Once you have modified your local host file, you will be able to view the website that is currently being worked on, but you will no longer be able to see your current LIVE website unless you undo the override.