Web designers are the backbone of a website, and play an important role in how a website is designed and marketed. If you are designing a website or improving upon your current website, it is important that you understand the many facets of web designing. There is much more to web design than simply adding a couple of graphics and text boxes. Web design encompasses a variety of fields and skills in the creation and maintenance of web sites.
The various fields of web design encompass web graphic design; web interface design; user interface layout; authoring, which includes standardised software and proprietary applications; and search engine optimisation. The work of web designers need to think creatively to provide a dynamic appeal to websites. Many people think of web designers as having a creative flair, but the reality is that the majority of web designers are trained professionals with a professional mindset. You can be a great web designer, regardless of your background. However, there are certain characteristics that all great web designers have in common.
It is important that web designers understand how users interact with websites. Interaction design is a growing field that utilises multimedia to enhance the user experience of a site. Interaction design focuses on the creative aspects of web design, and how the eye will be drawn to certain features of a website based on how users interact with it. As an example, if a site has a form to fill out, the user is likely to read the information displayed on the form and respond to the prompts accordingly. If a user finds a particular feature to be confusing, they may not fill out the form, or click on another option. As such, interaction design encompasses the ability to capture the attention of users in different ways, and use multimedia to enhance their interaction with your website.
Another important quality of web designers is a good user research habit. User research can be described as the process of understanding how users actually work with websites, and what their needs are. This enables you to tailor your web design to meet these needs, and build a website that meets the exact needs and desires of your target audience. A major part of user research is understanding what factors influence user behavior, and how they arrive at a decision to enter a site. For instance, are they attracted by your content, or is it confusing or hard to follow? These factors are very important for a successful website, and will form the basis of your interaction design foundation.
All great web designers work on a project-by-project basis, moving ahead one step at a time. As such, they are rarely stuck in a position where they are unable to resolve problems that come their way. In short, they do not have “one size fits all” mentality. They will often adapt their approach according to the current situation on the site, and will solve problems as they arise rather than trying to “quickly fix them”.
Usability is another key quality of a great web designer. A good designer will understand and ensure that the end-user understands what they are and what to expect from the site, so that they can successfully navigate and interact. In addition, they need to create a site that is easy to use and informative for users at all levels. By focusing on usability in the design phase of the project, web designers will reduce the likelihood of a long-term negative impact on potential customers. While this may sound like an easy job, it is actually one of the most important aspects of web designing, as many clients will rely on their website in order to make important business decisions.
All great web designers work on an information architecture or information system, developing the layout, content and technology in a manner which facilitates the process of obtaining the necessary information. In other words, they make information “go where” it needs to go. One of the key areas for web designers in information architecture is typography, as they are responsible for creating the visual design and the readability of the content.
As with all areas of typography, the accuracy of typography is extremely important. Poor typography can make a difficult to read page turn into a disaster. Poor choice of background color and inappropriate contrast can make a web page appear ugly in comparison to the rest of the page. Web designers also play an important role in balancing emotions in the design, as they must balance a strong color scheme against a background color which may be too dark or bright. However, by closely supervising and monitoring the entire process from beginning to end, web designers can ensure that the end result will meet all the necessary deadlines and come out on the other side looking beautiful and appropriate.