As a Designer, and now Web Designer on some projects, I already knew the basics of what Web Design entailed. However, that isn’t the case for everyone, so we have this little article to give you an overview of what Web Design is, includes and a brief history of Web Design and how it has evolved over the years.
So, What is Web Design?
Web Design is the term given to the process of designing a website. Web Design is a branch of the design industry, however, since having a website is vital in today’s world and demand has increased, it has essentially evolved into its own industry.
What does Web Design Include?
Websites are published and viewed only online, which means a different approach is needed to the design. Designing a website includes coding and different software, which can take a while to understand.
You also need to think of different aspects when working on a website. General rules of design, such as using white or negative space still apply as this keeps your content separated, organised and easy to read, however, you also need to think of the loading speed, and making the website work and function as it is supposed to.
The Terms of Web Design
There are a few different terms used in web design. Let’s look through them.
- Accessibility – This term is not Web Design specific, but is very important. This is how accessible your website is to those with disabilities, such as visually or hearing impaired.
- Backlinks – These are links from other websites that link to your site. These are very useful in building up your ranking position on search engines.
- Below the Fold – This term originates from newspaper publishing. Below the fold meant the content was on the bottom half of the page, below the physical fold in a newspaper. Now it means the content on the bottom part of your website page. This means it isn’t visible on the first view of the page and needs to be scrolled down to be seen.
- Breadcrumb – These show the navigation through pages. It is the same as looking through files on a computer. They generally appear similar to; Home > Products > Category > Product One. This term originates from Hansel and Gretal.
- CSS Framework – This is another form of coding, which works with HTML. CSS generally holds information for the design, layout, typography and colours.
- Domain – The domain is the name of your website, which identifies it. For example, www.yourdomain.co.uk.
- E-commerce – This the name for online shopping websites. E-commerce is short for electronic commerce.
- HTML – This is a form of coding, and is the language used to input content on a website.
- Hyperlink – This is a link on a webpage that links to another. It can either link to another site or a different page on your website.
- Landing Page – This is the page that a visitor to the site will see first, or land on. Landing pages are often created to work with marketing and advertising and help with getting visitors to fulfil an action.
- Navigation – This refers to the system used to move through pages on a website. This can be with menus, links or even breadcrumbs.
- Plug-In – A plugin is a 3rd party code that allows you to expand the capabilities of a website, without having to redo the entire base code.
- Responsiveness – This is how your website responds to being viewed on a computer, tablet and phone. Most people use their phone to view the internet now, so you need to make sure your website responds to that, is readable on a phone.
Brief History of Web Design
The first web pages came around in 1991, and as you can imagine the design didn’t really play a part. These sites were mostly articles, so the information was the most important part. The use of websites grew in the mid-nineties, meaning the look of a page started to be thought about. Images were used more and had a larger role on a site, and tables and lists were used to organise the information on the pages.
In the second half of the nineties, commercial websites were appearing. The design and look of the website began to be an important element, and designers started to pay more attention to the appeal and readability of the site. The use of animation was also introduced here, firstly through animated GIFs, then Adobe Flash was released which had a huge amount of effects ready for websites. This software was so popular that entire sites were built using it.
At the start of the 21st Century, the approach to web design changed. It was now thought that technical knowledge wasn’t enough to build a site, and expertise in visual design was needed as well. When designers joined the web design industry, web design took a big step. The designers found that the huge walls of text were difficult and hard to read, and so they split the text up, making new pages and menus for navigation. At this point landing pages also evolved. They now contained little content, and instead directed viewers to the content on different pages.
In 2007, the first iPhone was released. Initially, this didn’t have a huge effect on the online world, but in time it would change the way people used the internet. One of the biggest issues from this though was that the iPhone would not support Adobe Flash. Other online technologies needed to become available. It was becoming easier to make more and different types of content using HTML, and Flash wasn’t working well with Search engines either. Now, Flash is pretty much obsolete.
The design of a website now plays a huge part in whether you will get customers or not, so a well-designed website is essential. It has become even more necessary during the Coronavirus Pandemic, with businesses desperately needed to interact with customers and make sales or face losing the business. Around 576,000 websites are made every day, so a well-designed one will go a long way in helping your business gain customers through the internet.