Web design process

The Web Design Process: A Complete Guide 2022

What is Web Design?

Web design is the process of designing websites that appear on the internet. Web design concentrates on how the website’s user experience rather than its software development. The web design process used to solely revolve around designing websites for desktop browsers. However, since the mid-2010s, mobile browsers have become more popular. So it’s important to design for them as well as the desktop browsers.

Web design is mostly about aesthetics. So the appearance, layout, and sometimes, the content of the websites fall into the hands of web designers. Elements like font, colors, and images are examples affecting the website’s appearance. How the website is categorized and structured is what defines its layout. If a website is aesthetically pleasing and suitable to the business demands with a comprehensible interface, it’s qualified as a good web design.

Many web pages have a minimal design that discards excessive functionality and information as they might confuse and distract the users. A web designer’s ideal result is a website that gains the trust of the target audience. Therefore, web designers must try to eliminate elements that could lead to user frustration.

Web designs are powered by the Back-End

If you’re just beginning you might hear the terms front end and back end a lot. These terms could be confusing for many people, so it’s better to understand them early on.

These terms are self-explanatory. The back end refers to everything that functions behind what is displayed on a website. Websites are settled on servers. Let’s say a user wishes to be directed to a particular section of the website. The server receives this information and brings up all of the HTML codes that display that page on a user’s browser. So servers act as hosts that hold the data necessary for the website’s function.

Back-end web developers are usually programmers that write with programming languages such as PHP and use Python frameworks like Django. They also manage SQL databases and write Java code. All in all, they try to ensure that applications, databases, and servers are functioning together perfectly.

The web design process doesn’t deal with the back end that much. So as a web designer, you don’t need to learn it deeply, but it’s better to understand its function.

Know what the Front-End is

As the back end deals with the server side, the front end handles the client-side. In the front end CSS, JavaScript, HTML, and other codes cooperate to display the website. In this part, users are able to engage with the web design process.

There are some areas in web development that are too advanced to worry about in the beginning. But as you improve your skills, you can start working with frameworks such as Bootstrap and React or venture deeper into jQuery and JavaScript. 

How to learn web design

The road to becoming a web designer can be an easy journey. So if you want to get started and learn the basics, keep reading as we unfold everything you need to know to get started.

The web design process focuses on aesthetic elements such as user interface, layout, and other factors that may make the website more visually attractive and easier to use. Web designers employ various tools and programs in the web design process that help them reach their desired web page. Some of these tools include Photoshop and Dreamweaver. To be successful in their process, web designers need to consider their audience, the website’s purpose, and its visual charm.

Grasp the essentials of visual design

Line

Everything in a layout, from letters and borders to divisions is made up of lines that form their entire structure. By learning the web design process, you’ll understand the applications of lines in generating balance and order in the layout.

Shapes

There are three basic shapes when it comes to visual design. These shapes are circles, triangles, and squares. They each are generally used for a specific function with circles being used for buttons, Squares, rectangles for blocks of content, and triangles for call to action or icons carrying an important message. Shapes also convey emotions to users. Circles are often attributed to comfort and harmony, triangles to action and importance, and squares to strength.

Texture

Although it’s online and an image, the texture can convey the same sense as the real world. In the real world, a texture can be smooth or rough and it’s the same when it comes to the web design process. You’ll encounter different textures throughout your web design process. There are numerous different backgrounds to use. From the serene wisps of a Gaussian blur to paperlike backgrounds, different textures can sparkle different senses in users.

Color

Color theory can be important as it guides you to create designs that don’t strain the eye. Some of the things you can learn that will help you become a better web designer include complementary colors, the color wheel, contrasting colors, and the emotion each color conveys.

Grids

Since there has been graphic design, grids came along with it. Grids are extremely influential in bringing order to texts, images, and other elements in the web design process. Learn how to structure your web layouts with grids.

Know the basics of HTML

HTML or Hypertext markup language makes up the pillar of websites. HTML provides the guidelines for how images, content, navigation, and other elements of a website are displayed in a user’s browser. Web designers don’t need to master HTML, but it’s better to be familiar with its basic principles, even if the platform you’re working with is visual-based like Webflow.

A browser employs HTML tags as instructions that help generate a website. These tags control everything including paragraphs, headings, images, and links. Header tags such as H1, H2, and H3 are especially important for content hierarchy. So it’s important to learn their function. Not only do headers affect layout structure, but they also influence how web crawlers classify a design and how they appear in organic search rankings as well.

Understand CSS

CSS or cascading style sheets prepares styling and additional instructions to form HTML elements with more detail and elegance. Some of these functions include adding padding, applying fonts, choosing colors, setting alignment, and even creating grids.

So learning how CSS operates allows you to come up with a more unique and better design for your website and even customize templates. So let’s dig deeper into a few CSS concepts.

CSS classes

A CSS class refers to a list of attributes that join to function as styling an element. For example, body text consists of size, font, and color which are all segments of a single CSS class.

CSS combo classes

A combo class is created upon an available base class. The combo class inherits every trait including color, alignment, and sizing that could be already existing. These attributes are flexible and can change. Combo classes help you save time and they allow you to set up variations of a class that can be useful throughout the web design process. So learning CSS functionality is imperative when learning the web design process.

Learn the foundations of UX

UX works like a fountain of life that transforms the website from static arranging of elements into an engaging entity that users can scroll through.

Attributes like the color scheme, typography, content, layout, and visuals all are designed to make your website appealing to your audience. Precision and conveying emotions is what user experience design is all about. A unique and user-friendly design not only offers a smooth leisure time but also an experience that makes users connect with the brand through the web design process.

User personas

Web design means comprehending the user’s perspective. One thing you should learn is how to create user personas and how to do user research. Moreover, you need to learn how to make use of this information and optimize your design based on their requirements.

Information architecture

If there is no organization people will be confused and discouraged. Information architecture and content mapping offer a distinctive blueprint that clarifies a user’s journey on your website. It shows them how the website and each section work together.

User flows

If you progress and begin working on extensive design projects, you may encounter user flows. So we recommend starting learning and creating these from your early designs. User flows indicate the way people move through your design. With user flows, you can understand and prioritize the most important parts and make them easily accessible for users.

Wireframes

Wireframes help you understand what position headings, text, forms, visuals, and other elements are going to take on a web page. Even if you’re designing a website with a single web page, constructing a wireframe will give you clear guidelines to work easier and faster. With bigger projects, wireframes become more essential. They will help you with structuring layouts, creating a consistent experience, and not forgetting anything important in the process.

Prototyping

Prototypes can’t be necessarily reliable but they can represent a functioning design in the web design process. Important elements such as content, images, and interactions are placed correctly and replicate the actual design. Prototypes help you get constructive feedback and shape your design into perfection.

Familiarize yourself with UI

As a useful mechanism, a user interface helps to bring a piece of technology into action. You can find UI in real life even. Your doorknob, the keypad that enters your password in the ATM machine, or the volume control on your car radio that you can stop fiddling around with are user interfaces. As these mechanisms allow you to interact with machines in the real world, user interface elements on a website allow you to put action into motion.

There are two main UI principles that we’re going to discuss further: intuitive design and simplicity.

How to create intuitive interfaces

A website should be continuously engaged and interacted with during the web design process. When users are directed to the website, they should instantly realize how the website’s system is navigated.

Make UI simple

UI helps in optimizing usability. This means clarifying the functionality of the controls and making them easy to operate. You might be quickening the checkout process, minimizing the number of navigational options, or integrating other interactive elements that increase accessibility. In any case, deciphering how UI works helps you simplify the user experience while interacting with your website.

Understand the basics of creating layouts

Some design patterns can automatically lock our eyes on them which makes the web design route easier. These designs are very familiar to us after years of encountering the media. So we’ll instantly know where to look when facing them. So grasping important design patterns, help you create websites that offer a smooth sail towards the visuals and content. Two of the most common layout patterns you should learn in the web design process are F-patterns and Z-patterns.

Z-pattern

The Z-pattern can appear extremely efficient for layouts that offer low amounts of images and words but are generous in negative space. If you pay attention to how your eyes are directed through a design, you’ll identify a Z-pattern immediately when there is one.

F-pattern

On the other hand, if a design contains a lot of text, they often adopt a clear F-pattern. Blogs or online publications are good examples of this. On the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll usually face a list of posts or articles. The main body of the page often contains rows of related information. This pattern is designed to provide all the information users may need, even by skimming and glancing at it.

Learn about typography

Fonts can influence readability immensely and communicate different tones and emotions. So learning how to use typography is vital in the web design process.

Typography can be beneficial in several ways. Firstly, it has the utilitarian goal of increasing content readability. Besides practicality, it serves as decoration and it can make your website more aesthetically pleasing. 

So let’s dig deeper and learn three basic typography concepts that can come in handy:

Serif

Serif typefaces are known for their minuscule lines. These lines that are known as serifs grace each letter. Serif style can be traced back to print.

Sans serif

As its name suggests, sans serif typefaces are short of the distinctive lines of serif typefaces. These typefaces can be seen within the online world of apps and websites.

Display

You can usually find display typefaces in headlines. These typefaces can be thin and sharp lines or they can appear large and impressive. Their letterforms are often elegant and charm the user’s eyes.

Use your knowledge in practical use and start creating

There are a lot of ways to learn the web design process. Reading blog posts, watching online tutorials, signing up for different online courses, and all in all learning the theory and information through any method possible. However, none of these methods are nearly as effective as simply actually web designing!

You can begin with a simple project. You’ll probably find an acquaintance who needs a portfolio created or needs an online presence for their business. Offer them a free web design to expand your experience.

Blogs are also a good option, to begin with. They can be a practical opportunity to learn designing tools like a CMS. They can also be a showcase for your writing skills.

If you can’t do any of the above, you can simply start designing a website for a fake business or company. It’s fun and creative and it can enhance your designing skills. In addition, it can be added to your portfolio.

The 7 Stages of the Design Process:

Define

Examine the task or the assignment at hand. Try to figure out its target audience, scope, and restrictions. If you go through this phase thoroughly and correctly, you’ll have a better chance to come up with solutions later. An ambiguous vision like saying “I want a cool product brochure” will not lead you very far!

Research

Once you’ve defined and mapped everything out, you need to start researching. Observe your target audience deeply. Ask questions like “Who wants to consume my product?”, “What are their attributes? What are their habits, education, and lifestyle?” Overall, you need to realize who you are targeting with your web page or product brochure, and what you know about these people that can help with your marketing strategy.

Ideate

In this phase, you’ll start creating potential design solutions or variations. You’ll start brainstorming ideas, sketching them, and adapting an already existing design that has been successful in its trial and error. Ideation is probably the most fun part of the process. So gather every member in a brainstorming session and try to lead a successful design process.

Prototype

Once you’ve established a few potential solutions during the last step, select one or two of the most promising ideas to work on. This way you’ll have a more solid ground, to begin with. Later on, these ideas will turn into prototypes that can be tested and examined.

Select

Select among the design versions you have turned into prototypes to advance them further. Making this decision will help answer an important question: Is this solution the most suitable for the purpose? You might have your favorite design, but will it unfold strongly on your target audience? Will your customers like it? And, most importantly, how will they react to it?

Implement

Here you start developing the actual product. For example, if you have a brochure, add the final copy and images, proof it and send it out to be printed.

Learn

This step is essential for your progress. Here a team or a company can learn from their experience during the design process. They can even ask for feedback from their customers. This feedback can be a trusted guideline for future projects.

Frank Chimero compares the design process to dancing in his book, The Shape of Design. He explains: “Dancing requires music, and we each have our own song. These songs are the culmination of our individual dispositions […] and a demonstration of the lens we use to see the world.” So have you figured out your dance moves yet?!

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