When you’re setting out to learn web design, the first thing you should remember is that designing websites is very similar to print design. The basics are all the same. You need to understand space and layout, how to handle fonts and colors, and put it all together in a way that delivers your message effectively.
Let’s take a look at the key elements that go into learning web design. This is a good resource for beginners, but even experienced designers may be able to hone some skills with this advice.
01. Elements of Good Design
Good web design is the same as good design in general. If you understand what makes something a good design, you’ll be able to apply those rules to your websites.
The most important elements in web design are good navigation, concise and effective pages, working links, and, most importantly, good grammar and spelling. Keep these things in mind as you add color and graphics and your website will be off to a great start.
02. How to Layout a Web Page
Many people think that the layout of a web page is the design, and in many ways it is. The layout is the way the elements are positioned on the page, it is your foundation for images, text, navigation, etc.
Many designers choose to do their layouts with CSS. It can also be used for elements like fonts, colors, and other custom styles. This helps ensure consistent and easy to manage features across your entire website.
The best part of using CSS is that when you need to change something, you can just turn to the CSS and it changes on every page. It really is slick and learning to use CSS can end up saving you time and quite a few hassles.
In today’s online world, it’s very important to consider responsive web design (RWD) as well. The primary focus of RWD is to change the layout depending on the width of the device viewing the page. Keep in mind that your visitors will be viewing it on desktops, phones, and tablets of all sizes, so this is more important than ever.
Fonts and Typography
Fonts are the way your text looks on a web page. This is a vital element because most web pages include large amounts of text.
When you’re thinking of design, you need to think about how the text looks on a micro-level (the font glyphs, font family, etc.) as well as the macro-level (positioning blocks of text and adjusting the size and shape of the text). It’s certainly not as simple as choosing a font and a few tips will help you get started.
Your Website’s Color Scheme
Color is everywhere. It’s how we dress up our world and how we see things. Color has meaning beyond just “red” or “blue” and color is an important design element.
If you think about it, every website has a color scheme. It adds to the brand identity of the site and flows into each page as well as other marketing materials. Determining your color scheme is a vital step in any design and should be considered carefully.
Adding Graphics and Images
Graphics are the fun part of building web pages. As the saying goes “a picture is worth 1,000 words” and that’s also true in web design. The internet is a very visual medium and eye-catching photos and graphics can really add to your user engagement.
Unlike text, search engines have a difficult time telling what an image is of unless you give them that information. For that reason, designers can use IMG tag attributes like the ALT tag to include those important details.
Don’t Discount Navigation
Navigation is how your visitors get around from one page to another. It provides movement and gives visitors the chance to find other elements of your site.
You need to make sure that the structure of your website (the information architecture) makes sense. It also needs to be extremely easy to find and read so visitors don’t have to rely on the search function.
The ultimate goal is that your navigation and inline links help visitors explore your site. The longer you can keep them, the more likely you’ll get them to buy whatever you’re selling.
Web Design Software
Most web designers prefer to work in WYSIWYG or “What You See Is What You Get” editors. These provide a visual interface to the design and let you focus less on coding HTML.
Choosing the right web design software can be a challenge. Many designers prefer Adobe Dreamweaver because it’s easy to use and includes almost every feature you’re ever going to need. It does come at a cost, though, but there is a free trial available.
Beginners might want to look into free or online web editors. These allow you to dabble in web design and build some amazing pages at little to no cost.