Web Design refers to the process of planning, conceptualizing, and aesthetically arranging content to create a website. A wide variety of elements and development aspects are brought together to create a website. Despite the use of the term design, contemporary web design is much more than aesthetics and equally prioritizes the functionality of the website. Throughout this guide, we will define and examine the essential elements of web design and go on to cover the aspects of design that take websites to the next level of functionality.
Essential Web Design Elements
Some of the essential elements of web design reflect the conventional components found in regular design practices.
Like most design methods, appearance and content are just as important as the other. Users value quality, credibility and coherence, so the web design must be formulated while considering the content. Excellent content sets your website apart and lends a significant advantage regarding search engine optimization as algorithms prioritize knowledgable content.
Like content, font plays a role in communicating a clear connection between the website and the user. A website's written content communicates how a user can achieve their goals. The font choice distinguishes between effective and poor communication. Understanding the importance of font is vital, especially when considering how the font can represent your brand's personality.
[Take a look at Venngage's article discussing font psychology https://venngage.com/blog/font-psychology/]
Choosing the colour palette of a website involves research and reasoning. Colours can carry a variety of feelings, emotions and connotations. It is important to ensure that your colour scheme aligns with your brand and the message you want to communicate. We understand that red tends to present a sense of urgency or danger, whereas the colour blue tends to convey feelings of relaxation and calm. Web designers that consider these connotations can create powerful and meaningful websites.
The goal of a web design layout is to first and foremost make it clear to the user where each element is upon the page. Easy-to-use layouts draw from structure predictability (placing features where users expect them to be) and visual hierarchy (arranging elements in a way that denotes importance).
A properly structured webpage presents the user with what they want. As a result, users are more likely to return and lead to conversions. CMS' like WordPress or Wix are effective but can limit certain layout aspects. A custom-built CMS may be more suitable for companies looking for flexibility and total control.
Images, icons, logos, and shapes enhance a websites entire look. When used effectively with the colour and content of a page, designers can create a very engaging and cohesive aesthetic. While inserting graphics can be an easy task, inappropriate placement or irrelevant and generic images can have a damaging effect on the websites look and feel.
Usability + Functionality
As well as the standard elements of web design, a website must consider usability. While the components mentioned above can be executed to create an effective and compelling website, there are additional features that take web design to the next level.
The use of videos and other media to inform and capture the interest of users has proven to increase the standard time spent on a website. When used effectively, multimedia can engage audiences, convey emotions and create a well-rounded view of a brand or product.
The Neilsen Norman Group studied response-time limits and outlined that any website that takes more than a few seconds to load will make the user-experience unpleasant. With today's culture of instant gratification, a website taking more than a few seconds to load will likely turn off users and even deter them from visiting your site.
Websites with well thought out design can be negatively affected by overlooking this crucial aspect. Optimized back-end coding and the right infrastructure can help eliminate slow load times.
With 50% of browsing now done on mobile, web design must take other devices and browsers into consideration. Web designers can either create responsive or adaptive web design to optimize websites for each device or browser.
Compatibility also covers interactive features. As mobile users interact with finger taps rather than mouse clicks, interactive elements that are effective on a desktop browser may be unsuitable for mobile users, for example, the lack of additional feedback through mouse hovering and accessible buttons.
Web design should be for everyone, so considering users with impairments is vital.
Avoiding colour as the sole informative feature. Certain forms on websites use colour to indicate errors, without any other visual indicator or the message colour blind users will find the site frustrating and even unusable. Designers can avoid this by incorporating icons or text to indicate the error
Users with Poor Eyesight
Low contrast text and graphics become difficult to distinguish for users with poor eyesight. According to W3C, the contrast ratio between text and background should be at least 4.5:1. Large text has a lower ratio as heavier fonts are easier to read at a low level.
Blind users rely on screen readers and without alternative text for images, the information is inaccessible.
Navigation is a central element in determining the usability of a website. In a similar way to how response-time can turn off users, making a website with poor navigation can deter users from browsing.
Navigation should be clear, consistent and straightforward. Users want to find their objective in the fewest clicks possible with no confusion.
First and foremost, a website should have a logical Information Architecture (IA). Through user research and testing, the IA should predict how prospective user's movements and thoughts of how the site should be categorized. A logical IA can lead to an effective navigation system by meeting user's expectations, good communication, and quality checked components.
Web Design Trends
Check out some innovative web design trends of 2019 to get your creative mind into gear.
Got a great idea for a website but not sure how to execute it? Get in contact with our team at Walvis Technologies and we'll help make your idea a reality.