Web design is the process of conceptualizing, planning, and arranging content of a website. Website design incorporates planning and building its structure and its layout, as well as its images, colors, fonts, and graphics. Designing a website goes beyond its look; it also includes the website’s overall functionality. Website design also includes the development of mobile apps, web apps, and user interactive design. Effective website design incorporates various components that work together to create a polished website, such as graphic design, interface design, user experience design, content creation, and search engine optimization (SEO).
Web design is different from web development; web development is the coding that makes the website actually work. When building a website, companies need both web design and web development. Typically, these are different skill sets. A successful website design incorporates the following elements:
- It’s user-friendly in that it’s accessible to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, or disability.
- It fits the company’s brand in order to create a positive first impression from visitors. Elements that help with branding can include typography, color scheme, and message.
- It loads quickly so that potential visitors don’t have a chance to click away. Research by Google found that 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load and that if page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%.
- It’s responsive to both computers and mobile devices. In 2019, mobile internet usage rates overtook desktop usage rates so that smartphones held a 63% share of all retail website visits. A successful website design uses coding to automatically change design elements to accommodate different screen sizes.
- It’s SEO-optimized. Search engines use UX design as part of their algorithm because their goal is to display high-quality, relevant, web pages for someone’s search query. Some metrics that are measured include pages per session, bounce rate, and time on page.
Effective website design leads a visitor to take a specific action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, signing up for an account, or accessing additional content on the website. Website design that is done well incorporates the following elements to promote conversions:
- Responsive design
- Relevant, engaging, and high-quality content
- A balance between text and images on each page
- Appropriately sized fonts
- Compelling use of negative space
- Limited distractions and a thought-out user journey
- Clearly choices and calls to action
- Obvious, clear calls to action
Successful website designs present an on-brand, engaging look with design elements that allow for conversions.
Why Website Design Matters
Website design matters because first impressions are critical for the success of a brand. Furthermore, web design can have a massive impact on a business’s performance in search engines like Google. Prospective customers who search the web for a company, or brand, and find nothing might think it has gone out of business. Or, if they search and find something with a poor design, they’ll get the impression that the business doesn’t care about their company or product. Web design can set an impression for consistent customer service; if the website is modern, bright, and accessible, it creates a positive impression of the brand. It helps develop trust with an audience because they will feel comfortable remaining on the website, which creates more opportunities to capture these leads. Website design also impacts a business’s SEO strategy because on-page SEO fundamentals help with online visibility. Clearly, an effective website design can be the beginning of a relationship between a business and customer.
Common Misconceptions about Website Design
Keep in mind: good web design isn’t subjective. A well-designed website is one that creates an appropriate and engaging experience for visitors. However, there are some misconceptions that still exist around website design.
There is a misconception that web design should be done in-house. However, even if a business has an IT department, IT and web design are vastly different specialties. Website design and web development are not the same. Web designers create the visual appearance of a website, while web developers code the website. They use programming languages, such as HTML, to build the site. An IT team may not have experience designing websites at all, especially professional ones for businesses with many and varied needs. Furthermore, an IT department may be busy keeping the company running, while a web design team can not only build the website, but continue to manage and monitor the following elements:
- Content Management System (CMS)
- Web Hosting
- Domain Name
- High-Quality Content
- On-Page SEO
- Privacy and Security Terms
- Quality Assurance
Finally, be aware of the myth that once website design is done, the website will automatically rank at the top SERPs as soon as it goes live. To interest potential customers, companies must invest in content marketing, search engine optimization, building organic traffic, and lead generation. In other words, to generate traffic, companies must consistently improve and maintain their ranking in the SERPs.
Website design defines and embodies a brand in the online space. This means ensuring consistency with your existing brand standards, designing logos and images, and making other aesthetic decisions to represent your brand accurately and in a way that appeals to your existing and ideal customers.