Tim Berners-Lee created the world’s first web browser in 1990, the World Wide Web, although it was given the name Nexus later on. Only text could be displayed on a web page back then, just basic text, links underscored in blue, without intricate fonts, pictures/videos. In 1993, Mosaic was developed, the first modified web browser that let developers place images on web pages. Capable of displaying .gif images and web forms, it was considered a huge development at the time. However, potential of website design was very restricted due to browser limitations and extremely slow connection speeds. Websites that covered an exceeding number of images, videos, or other graphic components would take way too long to load. By the mid-nineties, Netscape was the number one web browser; it was overtaken by Internet Explorer soon, and from here competition among browsers commenced. Over the same period, web design started to become more sophisticated, including frames, tables and images. From 1998, web development toolkits were introduced to the market. DreamWeaver and GoLive were among the more renowned ones as they provided more users access to web page creation. Jobs in web design proliferated as a higher number of designers was presented with jobs to develop sites. Flash technology also came about during that period, though it was not preferred for starting.
Fast forward to the year 2000, the bubble burst and hundreds of thousands of web businesses fell apart. The immobilization of the industry didn’t last long, web design standards started rising again. An improved class of design was brought about. Designs that were not based on tables, clarity with .png images and CMS were introduced and started to become popular. Content Management System (CMS) was a program that let designers circulate content on the web with the ability to go back and edit/modify publications.
A more refined version of the World Wide Web, web 2.0, came out in 2004. This was the age of bold websites, targeted towards communities, with fancy bold typography and shiny gradients, with rounded corners and softened edges. Thus, web design, once again, thrived. Websites started being more useful and more demanded for an interface to function correctly. Widgets were placed all over to help combine sites. This was frequently used where a social network site was concerned, lining external feeds to the site, or lining from the site to a blog. This period is also notable for making websites more accessible to the general public. Innovations like WordPress and Blogger, with user-friendly guides on ways to make a website helped common people create a website without learning HTML or CSS.
The process of web design begins with a visual concept, which could be sketched by hand or with software like Photoshop. Afterwards, HTML and CSS is utilized to develop the website. HTML and CSS are the codes for writing web pages. HTML is responsible for the rudimentary structure of the page, with CSS dealing with the design and layout.
Five reasons why web design is important are listed below:
1. It sets the first impression
When the targeted audience checks the website, it provides them with the first impression of a company. A judgment of the business is formed within seconds. In these first few seconds, a business should try to make a positive influence on the audience.
If the website appears to be unattractive or outmoded, visitors will immediately form a negative impression of the company. They won’t have any reason to browse the page further, which leads to the business missing out on leads as visitors might abandon the page to visit a rival’s webpage.
Web design is significant as it affects how the audience distinguishes the brand. The influence the page has on them can either compel them to stay and learn about the business more or exit the page and click on a competitor’s. A well-thought-out web design helps to keep leads on the page.
2. It aids search engine optimization (SEO) strategy
A number of web design elements and practices affect how content is published on the website, which consecutively influences how search engine spiders crawl and index the website.
This is a vital thing that cannot be botched. If the on-page SEO fundamentals are not up to the mark, it will be difficult to be noticed from the beginning.
Besides the way content is published on the website, particular web design elements can openly influence SEO by themselves. Web design can be challenging to comprehend if one is not accustomed to the way it works, but simply put, the code has to be SEO-friendly.
3. It sets the impression for customer service
People are able to ascertain how they will be treated by checking out a company’s website. The site’s layout gives improves their perception of how the business views its customers. If little to no effort is put into the website, the audience ill infer that no effort will be put into serving them.
The website is similar to a customer service representative. If the website is bright, up-to-date, and welcoming, the audience will see the page as more inviting. The impression that the company is open and inviting to new people will be demonstrated.
Conversely, an out-of-date and unattractive site makes the business seem unfriendly and detached. People are unwilling to invest in a business that doesn’t appreciate them enough to create a decent first impression.
4. It builds trust with the audience
People don’t rely on badly designed websites. They won’t believe in the site if they see it is poorly designed or the information is obsolete. They may perceive the site as seedy/shady as it is not updated.
Instead, a professional site evokes reliance from the audience. It increases their trust in and the level of comfort with the business, which leads them to delve deeper in the site.
It’s necessary to create trust among the audience so they stick to the site. When visitors check the site for an extended period of time, more opportunities for the business to capture those leads are created.
5. Competitors are doing it
A big reason web design is important is that rival companies are most likely already exploiting web design. If the business wants to remain in competition with them, it must take advantage of web design for its site.
The website needs to be distinguished from the competition. If the website is old, outdated, and low-quality, competitor’s websites will outrank it. Their well-made website will accomplish more comparatively.
This equates to giving up leads to competitors. They’ll draw a higher number of leads to their page as their page is more attractive.
Website design is an occasion for a business to distinguish itself from the competition. When competing with rival businesses, a business typically has the same services and similar prices set. There needs to be that one factor that sets itself apart from other businesses.
Basic Principles of Website Design
A productive website design should accomplish its required goals by disclosing its intended message alongside instantaneously appealing to the visitor. Various elements, like consistency, colours, typography, imagery, simplicity and functionality, all are factors of quality website design. When modeling a website there are many significant elements that will affect the way it is observed. A nicely designed website can aid in gaining trust and directing visitors to take action. In order to craft a great user-experience a business has to ensure that the website design is optimized for usability (form and aesthetics) and is simple to operate (functionality).
Listed below are some website design principles that might help with a web project:
1. Less is More – Simplicity Rules
Simplicity is the best option when taking into account the user experience and the usability of the website. Often, sites are over-designed, with an exceeding number of features on the page, sidetracking visitors from the main intent of the site. Simplicity is vital for effective web design. Not only does a tidy, novel design make the site trouble-free to browse through, but the aesthetics are more likeable and are likely to be relevant for a long time. It is redundant and confusing to load a site with design elements that have no objective. To guide new business straight into the core of the enterprise, the design should be uncomplicated so that users can find their way certainly and effortlessly.
Here are some ways to obtain simplicity through design:
- Colour: Colour has the ability to disclose messages and stir emotional reactions. Choosing a colour scheme that suits the brand will let the business affect the way customers act towards the brand. However, the colour selection should be restricted to fewer than 5 colours. Complementary colours are very effective. A mixture of aesthetic colours improve customer interaction and make the user feel nice.
- Type: Typography plays a key part on the website. It demands attention and functions as the visual interpretation of the brands voice. Typefaces should be distinct and just employ a maximum of 3 different fonts on the website.
- Imagery: Imagery consists of all visual aspects used to communicate. This comprise of still photography, illustration, video and all kinds of graphics. All imagery should be meaningful, express the company’s essence and behave as the manifestation of its brand persona. A big chunk of the primary information received from websites is visual and as a first impression it is vital that high quality images are employed to inscribe an impression of professionalism and reliability in the visitor’s mind.
2. Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy is the positioning of components in order of importance. This is done using one from the following — size, colour, imagery, contrast, typographically, whitespace, texture, style. One of the key functions of visual hierarchy is to demonstrate a central point; which shows visitors where the most important information lies. Certain sections of the website are more important than others (forms, calls to action, value proposition etc), and those should be tended to more than the less important parts.
There are two generally used ways of forming a visual hierarchy, and they are listed below:
- Size Hierarchy: Going by its name, in size hierarchy, the most vital content/image is of the largest size on a webpage, ahead of the second most vital content/image in the second largest size and so on and so forth. The difference in sizes should be such that a visitor would look at the items in order of importance.
- Content Hierarchy: Another way to apply this principle is by designing a hierarchy of content. Content can be situated in such a way that the user’s sight first meets the content that is most significant, for instance, the business’s objective/purpose, then moves on to the less significant content blocks in a hierarchical order.
3. Hick’s Law
Hick’s law states that with every additional choice increases the time required to take a decision. This law holds true for web design and multiple other situations/settings. Lesser options equate to less time for taking decisions. This resembles Paradox of Choice – the more choices people are given, the easier it is to choose nothing.
The more options a user is offered when using a website, the harder it will be to use. Thus, to have a more pleasant experience, choices have to be reduced. To create an optimized web design, the system of removing diverting choices has to be constant all through the design procedure.
Hick’s law can also be interpreted as ‘More options mean less sales’. In order to incorporate this law without having to cancel putting up most product or service options that a business has, products can be organized in a hierarchy with the key categories displayed in the sidebar and all the products of that classification in a different list.
4. Fitt’s Law
According to this major principle, the time needed to move to a target is dependent upon the size of the target as well as the distance to the target. This means that the bigger the object/target and the nearer it is, the less complicated it would be to reach and catch it. This law can successfully be included in web design and can improve web design to a great extent.
However, this does not signify ‘the bigger, the better’ but says that usability factor of a target runs as a curve and is not linear. When this law is applied to web design, users may be more influenced and driven to click what the business wants them to click.
If the company wants its website users to take steps, like order a product, read about a service or click on something, then it must ensure that they can find the ‘click here’ effortlessly and swiftly. Therefore, it would be smart to take this law into consideration and utilize it.
5. Respectful, Honest, and Engaging
Social media has had a massive effect upon both written and spoken communication. Visitors want to be occupied in a very “human” way. Even the biggest multinational corporations have been compelled to put a human face on their activities. Every word, phrase, and headline must be show respect to the user, be true, and have some engrossing effect that makes it fascinating. For instance, “put your roof to work” would be more likely to receive a reaction compared to “find a solar installer.” The fundamental notion is that people want and value integrity. The company could take part in several charity events, or donate time to movements it cares about. It has to be real.
6. White Space
Not only does it assist to lighten the cognitive load for the visitors, but it makes it possible for them to interpret the information displayed on the site. When a new visitor looks at a design layout, the first thing he/she attempts is to examine the page and separate the content area into easily followable bits of information.
Complex structures are more challenging to read, scan, examine and deal with. If there is an option between dividing two design segments by a visible line or by whitespace, it’s generally recommended to go with the whitespace. Hierarchical structures lower complexity (Simon’s Law): the better a business is able to impart a sense of visual hierarchy to users, the easier the content will be to discern.
7. Test Early, Test Often
Test Early and Test Often or ‘TETO’ is another web design principle that all designers and website owners must think about. Carrying out usability tests every once in a while, results in significant outcomes and perceptions into various types of difficulties associated with a website layout or aspects of design. Websites frequently face particular issues and by not testing them regularly, visitors may be driven away, as they create new issues. Websites continuously require upgrades and updates to conserve visitor and customer interest.
Following are a couple of points which must be kept in mind to test a webpage or website:
- Testing one user at the start of a project is preferable to testing 50 users near the end as it paves the way for developments that could be found to be vital for driving traffic and improving sales. Plus, resolving mistakes during the process is less expensive rather than at the end.
- Testing is an iterative process. Thus, designers must initially design, then test, then fix and then repeat the test. There is a high possibility that a few issues were not resolved the first time because of redirection of attention to other crucial issues.
Everyone visiting the website is looking for some sort of information or content, therefore, it is crucial for a company to communicate with them distinctly and engagingly. The information must be captivating, easily legible, and easy to decipher. Communication is not simply about giving written information but also about providing images, infographics and other types of media, such as videos and audio pieces. Web design incorporates a concept called ‘Visible language’.
According to this idea, visible language is the content people perceive on the screen and includes three basic principles, which are:
- Organize – Visible language or effective communication requires giving visitors of the website a distinctive and thoroughly consistent layout/structure. Some vital components of the organization of concept are — the layout comprising of the distribution of content, consistency, navigation, as well as visual appeal. To make the website communicate seamlessly, it is important to order and place chunks of information in such a way that they are easy to process.
- Economize – This concept advocates gaining more by employing less. This means that the business must try to provide the most information by utilizing fewer visual components. The design/layout must be tidy and uncomplicated, with a high degree of lucidity. It should emphasize on what is important and create distinctions between separate elements.
- Communicate – The user interface of the web design must be built in a way that users are able to comprehend every bit of information as trouble free as possible. Readability, legibility, color, texture, and views should be well adjusted.
Alongside this, the content provided on the website must be suitable, well-written, easy to comprehend and should be written with the concept of search engine optimization in mind. It is vital to modify the style of writing according to the liking of the target audience and avoid promotional writing. The writing must attract visitors and leave them fascinated and wanting more. It must lucidly reveal what the business does and what it intends to attain.
9. Mobile Friendliness
In October 2016, mobile traffic officially exceeded desktop traffic on the internet. For the last 3 years, people have regularly accessed the internet more from mobile phones or tablets than from a desktops or laptop computers. Desktop traffic has been falling for over a decade and mobile internet’s growth is still ongoing.
Back in 2017, it was forecasted that by the end of 2019, mobile would be responsible for 79% of all web traffic. This could imply that customers are looking at the desktop version of a company’s website only 20% of the time. Studies have proven that if a site doesn’t function very well or if its layout doesn’t look very appealing on a mobile device, people will discontinue visiting it and move to a site that offers an improved mobile experience.
According to McKinsey & Company, Google reports 61% of users are not likely to visit a mobile site they had trouble accessing twice and 40% browse a competitor’s site as an alternative.
Of all the elements examined by Google when determining how to position websites on search engines, mobile usability is categorized as the third most important of all the factors. Google made an even bigger transfer to mobile in November 2016 when it announced that it would crawl the mobile version of websites before the desktop version. Moreover, Google is going to take its ranking signals from the mobile version of the website, not the desktop version. This could affect the website’s positioning in Google.
If a website was created or redesigned in the last two years, its developer is likely to have used responsive design. Responsive design adapts the display of the website to the size of the device screen in use. In some cases, this causes an auto-resizing of the content. In other cases, it can mean an extremely differing layout with streamlined content or different, mobile-friendly browsing/navigation.
A proper responsive website design will make sure that navigation and images adjust appealingly to the mobile experience. On mobile, the text becomes even more influential, due to restricted space. Written content for a mobile site should be concise, purposeful, and readable with headers and callouts to assist the reader navigate quickly to the site’s information. Calls to action should be conspicuous on mobile with easy-to-read buttons or call outs. Mobile-friendliness is profitable for business
. The latest case study for shoe company “Offspring” revealed that utilizing responsive web design raised their search engine positioning by 77.59% and their mobile conversion rate by 15.19%. By using mobile-friendly components like a large site search bar and a “sticky” header (one that stays in place throughout scrolling), they made their site simpler to browse on mobile and tablet, thereby keeping a higher number of visitors on their site longer, which eventually led to more sales.