The term web design is usually used to describe the design process involved in designing the front end (user interface) of a website. Web design now encompasses many different skills and disciplines involved in creating and maintaining websites.
In other words, web design is a general term used to describe an important step in the development of a website, or even the creation process itself. Web design includes the creation of web graphics, user interface design (UI design), user experience design (UX design), and code and software development for a website. Often specialists work in teams dealing with different aspects of the design process, but some designers deal with all of them. Whether it is a company showcase site, a virtual storefront, a personal showcase site, a portal or even a blog, the website design stage is the one that gives the site a visual identity and the process by which the graphic image is built the site will welcome its visitors. In the common, more and more accepted by us understanding, web design is identified with the process of creating a website.
The term web design has a recent history but has become an integral part of everyday life. It can be related to other fields such as graphic design, user experience and multimedia arts, but today it is viewed more from a technological point of view. It is hard to imagine the Internet without graphics, animations, font styles, movies and music.
The first web designer was the inventor of the web himself, Tim Berners Lee, who in 1991 created and published online the first website in the history of the web. used – HTML – is not very powerful and allows only a limited series of formatting, as well as inserting links to be able to connect pages to each other; web design at the time was actually web programming.
Websites, in the form in which they are interpreted and displayed by applications called browsers, are intended to be understandable by every user, even without programming knowledge. Without these browsers that know how to interpret the code language and display the result on the screen, web pages would be just strings of unformatted text and most likely no images. Essentially, HTML indicates where to display the various visible elements, size, color, fonts, and other parameters that give a website both the desired look and feel.
From a technical point of view, the process of creating a website design can be quite challenging. In the traditional development process, web design uses specialized graphic tools (such as Adobe Photoshop) to pre-draw a static mock-up of pages, page by page (home page, content pages – information/products/services, contact, etc.). In this process, the designer creates the shape of the graphic buttons, the size and position of the logo or logotype, determines the layout of the menu on the screen, the font, the size and appearance of the text, the color of the page, as well as other specific graphic aspects. Due to the fact that this original image is then “cropped” into smaller images, which are then placed in tables or defined in CSS, from the graphic side, web pages are subject to the same composition rules as printed graphics. The static graphic mock-up is modified through iterations and variations until it meets the client’s expectations, and then moves on to the next HTML processing process. In this way, the first “skeleton” of the site (mock-up) is generated, which simulates the site and all its features, but without the actual content. Today, there are also interactive applications that allow for the creation of a project and quick cooperation between the client and the designer. This is followed by the insertion of the code that will ultimately generate the website (or its programming), a step carried out by a programming and database specialist. As a rule, also at this traditional stage, an administration interface is also built, which allows the authorized user to modify, delete or add certain areas of the website content (pages, news, products, services, etc.). Content can also be managed using a WYSIWYG (visual) HTML editor.
In recent years, due to the strong development of this field, with the emergence and spread of popular integrated CMS (Content Management System) platforms that quickly generate websites without advanced knowledge (such as WordPress, Joomla, Typo3, Drupal, Wix, Shopify etc.) web design is increasingly using design themes, templates or predefined design templates. They provide users with several variants of comprehensive customization and modification (colors, fonts, galleries, visual effects, frames, tables, forms, page formats and predefined functionalities, links with other web applications) that can be combined for an original website design and overall not bad result. Design themes provide CMS platforms with generally responsive behavior tested on several types of devices and browsers at generally affordable prices (many of which are even free).
The traditional method remains the standard of development for custom sites, whether very small or large, owned by well-known brands, or that need to be unique in appearance and/or functionality, and that usually have a large development budget.
Good website design should adhere to the following best practice recommendations in this area:
- “clean” and attractive composition, devoid of distracting elements;
modern, attractive graphics, in line with current trends, with an optimal ratio of visual elements to textual content;
- best responsive behavior; in many areas, mobile (growing) traffic already accounts for over 75% of total website traffic (mobile first approach);
- the simplest possible logical structure of information, easy to navigate, thanks to which the visitor can quickly reach the pages of interest to him.