What Does “Design” in Web Design Really Mean?

Creating an online presence for your business or personal brand starts with web design. Whether you’re building a website or web application, you first have to figure out how the site or app will look like. This is where web design comes in.

However, web design means more than just aesthetics. It also entails planning the functionality of the website and shaping the user experience. How will the website work and what actions will the visitors take? What kind of experience should the user get?

Having a firm grasp of what web design really means and how it works is crucial to designing an amazing online presence for your brand. In this article, we delve deeper into the meaning of web design and what the process entails.

What is Web Design?

Web design is the process of planning the elements of a website. It determines the look and feel of a website.

But web design isn’t just about appearance. The design in web design applies to both the visual and functional aspects. Web design also entails engineering the site’s structure and shaping the user experience.

  • Appearance refers to what you see when you visit a website or open an app. This includes everything that defines the overall look and feel – the colors, fonts, text, and images.
  • Functionality, on the other hand, means how the website or app works. From how the content is structured and laid out to the actions users can perform on the site.

What Do Adaptive and Responsive Web Design Mean?

Web design has come a long way ever since the first website went live in 1991. Today, more than half of online traffic is via mobile devices. It’s therefore vital for web design to render well on a variety of devices.

There are two web design methods web designers use to make sure their web design works well on both desktop and mobile users: responsive and adaptive design.

  • Responsive web design has a flexible grid that resizes and reorients itself to suit the screen size and orientation of the current device.
  • Adaptive web design creates different versions of the website for the standard screen sizes.

Is Web Design the Same as Web Development?

Both web design and web development are skill sets involved in the process of creating a website. However, they aren’t one and the same thing.

Web design is the planning of the website’s appearance and functionality while web development is the actual coding that brings the website to life.

In other words, web designers handle the creative aspect while web developers handle the implementation part. Web designers turn website ideas into mockups. Web developers then use coding languages to translate the mock-up into a website.

What Elements Make Up Web Design?

In order to guarantee that the website looks good, is easy to use, and performs well, web designers have to bring together aesthetic and functional elements.

These are the building blocks of web design and the factors you need to consider when designing your website. Find out what these elements are next.

Visual Elements of Web Design

The visual elements come together to determine the overall look and feel of the website. Beyond aesthetics, they also play a role in shaping the user experience and branding. These visual elements include:

  • Website Header: The top section of the site is the first thing visitors see when they land on your site. It’s a strategic position to display the most important information such as your logo and name, contact information, and navigation menu.
  • Website Footer: Located on the bottom of the website but visible on every page, the footer section is a great place to repeat important information such as contact details. As the last thing a visitor sees, it’s also a strategic place to include your call to actions.
  • Color Scheme: A website’s color scheme sets the tone for the site. It should be in harmony with the industry and target audience. Using the brands color scheme serves to strengthen your branding. A consistent color palette also lends order to the site.
  • Typography: What font styles you use and how you arrange text not only contributes to the aesthetic style but also enhances usability. The font choices should be clear and appropriately sized for ease of reading and suit the theme of the site and brand. You can pick primary, secondary and accent fonts to shape the user experience.
  • Website Background: The background follows the reader as they scroll through your site, setting the tone for your website. You can use the classic white background or opt for an image, brand color, or gradient background. You can even make it more exciting with the use of scrolling effects such as parallax scrolling. What’s important is that the background fits into the overall theme and isn’t too distracting.
  • Imagery: Images grab attention and make a lasting impression. Use of eye catching images that suit the theme and brand brings the design to life and also serves to strengthen the message you’re communicating.
  • Animation: Adding animation is a great way to make a site stand out. It’s also a very effective way to direct user’s action. For example, an animated CTA button can draw the eye and encourage click through. Use animation with caution though as going overboard can ruin the user experience.
  • Visual Hierarchy: Web design also entails creating the order in which a reader will process the content on the website. Designers use visual patterns to direct visitors’ eyes and behaviors. F-Patterns or Z-Patterns, for example, emphasize the header.

Functional Elements of Web Design

Functional elements are those factors that determine whether a website is functioning properly. Getting the functionality right is crucial to ranking high in the search engines and giving users the best experience. Here are the elements that affect how a website works:

  • Layout: The layout is the arrangement and sequence of visual elements. It’s a very important element of web design. It determines the site’s appearance, usability, and functionality.
  • Navigation: Simple and intuitive navigation helps users find what they are looking for easily and quickly. A poor navigation structure can lead to a poor user experience and site ranking. Adding a navigation menu to your design is the best way to provide smooth navigation for visitors.
  • Loading Speed: In the fast paced world we’re living in, there’s no place for a slow website. Both human readers and search engines hate slow loading sites. Studies have found that a loading time of more than 3 seconds increases the bounce rate by 32%.
  • SEO: Search Engine optimization (SEO) plays a big role in the success of a website. It ensures that people looking for the products, services, or information you offer can find your website when they search online. How a website is structured can affect its SEO success. For example, a logical layout helps the search engines crawl, understand, and index the site pages.
  • UX/UI Design: UX design is all about the user experience. Everything about the design should come together so as to leave the target audience satisfied. UI design, on the other hand, means the user interface design. It means coming up with an intuitive interface that people can understand easily and find what they’re looking for or accomplish tasks without struggle.
  • Content: Content refers to the information the website provides. It’s the reason readers visit a website in the first place. High-quality and relevant text and images are essential to engage readers. A website that satisfies the readers search intention is more likely to convert visitors into customers.
  • Readability: How easy to see and read is the content on a site? Readability requires the use of appropriate text size and pixel and ensuring there’s good contrast between the text color and the background.

What Defines Good Web Design?

Your understanding of web design isn’t complete without knowing what constitutes effective web design. Here are the characteristics of great web design.

It’s Attractive

The appearance of a website has a huge impact on visitors. An attractive website can reduce bounce rate and encourage visitors to spend more time on your site. It also benefits your brand’s reputation.

It’s Simple and Clean

Simplicity is the best approach when it comes to web design. The fewer choices a user has, the more likely they are to take an action. Only include relevant text and images and buttons. Extraneous features and functions can confuse users and detract from what is important.

It’s Easy to Use

Visitors should easily and quickly find the information they are looking for. Easy to read text and simple and intuitive navigation ensure users have a great experience on your website.Everyone should also be able to access and use your website.

It’s Engaging

Effective web design delivers the kind of experience a visitor is looking for when they visit your website. It should grab visitor’s attention immediately and then pique their interest to keep scrolling. It should then hold their attention and drive them to contact you, sign up, or perform any other desired action.

It’s SEO-Optimized

Search engine optimization isn’t only reliant on the content. Good web design also improves the performance of a website in the search engines. Mobile responsiveness, UX design, and loading speed are all factors that the search engines take into account when ranking websites. For example, a clean and logical layout makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl a website and understand its pages.

It Suits the Brand

Web design should also match the brand. The visual elements of web design should match the typography, color scheme, and icons you use on your logo, marketing materials or brick and motor store. This brand consistency enhances trust and credibility.

It’s Mobile Friendly

Now that more than half of online traffic is via mobile devices, good web design should be accessible on any device. The website should be easy to view whether from a desktop computer, a tablet, or a cell phone.

It Converts

Ultimately, effective web design leads users to take the desired action or actions. This could be signing up for a service, buying something, signing up for your newsletter, or just reading more content.

The Principles of Web Design

The classic principles of design also apply to web design. Following these principles ensures that the website is harmonious in its look and feel and optimizes performance.

  • Balance: The elements such as text and images should be arranged in a way to achieve a balance in the visual weight on both sides. None of the elements should be too overpowering. An unbalanced structure can detract from the message.
  • Contrast: Use of contrasting elements such as dark and light is a great way to draw the eye and captivate visitors. For example, using a black button on a white background is a great way to bring attention to the button.
  • Emphasis: Whatever you want the user to notice first, use the power of emphasis to direct their attention there. Designers make use of headings, color, size, and spacing to make certain aspects stand out. For example, they use a bright hue to emphasize a call to action.
  • Movement: Use movement to take visitors from one element to the other. You can direct where the eye will go next with the size, direction, and order of elements.
  • Rhythm: Repeating certain elements can create consistency, cohesiveness, and reinforce your branding. You can also use repetition to amplify important messages.
  • Hierarchy: The most important information should be placed prominently on the page. For example, you should place the logo and phone number above the fold, where they’re easily accessible and visible.
  • White Space: White space refers to any area that’s devoid of visual elements. Appropriate use of whitespace is vital to creating a visually pleasing and easy to navigate website. It helps achieve the principles of hierarchy, balance, emphasis, and more. It also results in a clean design that doesn’t overwhelm visitors.
  • Unity: What elements you use, and where and how you position them should result in a cohesive web design. Without unity, you risk overwhelming or confusing the reader with a chaotic design.

Why is Web Design a Big Deal?

As your brand’s online identity, your website is the most valuable digital asset. It’s the first impressions online visitors have of your brand. It has the potential to shape people’s perception of your brand.

A well thought out and executed online presence can attract the right audience, engage them, and convert them into customers. Getting your web design right comes with the following perks.

  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: A well designed website contributes to customer satisfaction. When visitors can find what they are looking for easily, they get a positive impression and it’s easy to convert them into buyers.
  • Great User experience: When your website or app suits your brand and is tailored to the target audience, it delivers the optimal user experience.
  • Brand Development: Web design is also an opportunity to build or maintain your brand. When your website expresses your brand elements consistently, it’s easier for customers to identify your brand and the products or services you offer.
  • Drive Conversions: The ultimate goal of web design is to drive conversions and earn the website owner money. After all, a website is a very important sales and marketing tool. It should provide what the target users need and want. And when visitors are delighted with the user experience and content, they’re more receptive to the services and products the brand offers and more likely to sign up, order something or provide their email address.

That’s A Wrap!

In the digital world we’re living in, every brand should have an online presence. Every website or digital interface begins with web design. It’s the process of planning not just the appearance of your website but also its functionality.

Every choice made in the design process affects not just the look but also has an implication on the usability and performance of the website.

Good web design takes into account both visual and functional elements, reflects the existing brand, delivers a great user experience, and drives conversion. Investing in professional web design can help take your brand to the next level.

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