Basics of Web Design – How to Create a Professional Looking Website?
Web design has become an exceptional art form, as the world and the internet changes so rapidly. New technologies allow us to expand our horizons further and make tactical choices in the way we create the layout and design of our websites. There are virtually millions of website designs we could create, but only a few would support us in reaching our goals.
In this article, we are going to help you understand how you can establish the foundations of a fresh web design, what makes a good website design in 2017 and what kind of technical knowledge do you require to build an outstanding design (or at least choose one).
So, let us help you with inspiration and knowing what kind of web designs work in today’s internet environment.
Establishing What Kind Of Web Design You Need
Before you even start thinking about specifically how a website should look and what elements should it incorporate, you have to establish its goals. The “whys” of a website will define the style, color scheme, images, typography and layout you’re going to use.
This is important because the website is not going to be judged by the website owner and its creator, but by the users. A website shouldn’t just look good, it should fulfill a specific function for the user and it also has to help you achieve the goals you’ve set out to accomplish.
Thinking this way will help you establish an efficient workflow and create a professional looking website layout.
Define Your Success
If you have clear business objectives, then the website you’re looking to build is a tool for reaching said objectives. So, you have to know what you’re designing a website for. Sure, you probably have a description of the site you want, but what kind of expectations does it have to meet? First and foremost, a website has to fulfill the user’s needs as efficiently as possible. After that, it has to guide the user to fulfilling your requirements as well.
Do you want to convert visitors? Spread information? Gather new business partners? Entertain? The specific “why” of the website has to be established before you can move forward with designing it. Remember, a website also functions like a business card, and making an absolutely powerful first impression to the user is of paramount importance.
How will this website help the business, company or individual it is being designed for?
Put It All On Paper
Many designers just get to work right after they have read or seen something regarding the new website, and they don’t always follow specific guidelines. To establish an efficient workflow and make sure you get from A to B, it’s important that you write and draw all the necessary details down.
Write down your goals or your client’s goals. Establishing clear objectives and drawing down ideas on paper is an awesome guideline to your work. You can’t over communicate ideas, so use anything to make them clear.
Once everything has been written in stone, and you know who is the website being designed for and with what purpose, it’s time to bombard that paper with some ideas. You can either draw a sketch with hand or with a UI design program, like Balsamiq Mockups. You can use it to create a user interface effortlessly and solve important design problems such as the navigation and getting the user to do what they came to do as quickly as possible.
In this step, you can find the place for components that surround the page’s content, such as the menu bars and anything else used for navigation.
Once these are done, the only thing to do is to look at the idea and the core design you have established and take out or add anything you deem necessary. If you see room for improvement, make it.
Make sure you use clear communication within your design and keep in mind that people want to get their hands on information as quickly as possible. The text written on the website should also be easy to read and understand, but that’s a problem for a content writer.
Choose The Essential Elements of Your Web Design
Once you have figured everything out about what you want to accomplish with your website, it’s time to move on to putting it together. You have to take a few core elements into account when designing a website, which are: the color scheme, images, content and typography. Let us analyze all of these and figure out how you can get the best out of each element!
Choosing The Color Scheme
Colors have powerful psychological effects on us. We make associations with the colors we see, on a subconscious level, which can have a powerful emotional effect on us. In our web designs, we seek to exploit this as best as we can and choose our colors, depending on what we are building our website around.
The most straightforward way to treat colors on a website is to choose a 3 color scheme and stick to it. If you use too many colors, you’ll just end up confusing or maybe even frustrating the user. But by using only 3 colors, your design will be nice and consistent all the way. You can still use different shades of the 3 colors you chose.
Also, the primary color should make up about 60%, the secondary should be 30%, while the third color should make up only 10% of the website. The primary color should be in contrast with the secondary one, while the third color should complement them in a subtle manner.
Be sure to choose your colors from the natural color palette and leave out any color that’s too intense, like neon green for example. Make your colors as smooth and as natural as possible.
As I mentioned, each color has its own association, so we are going to tell you what messages and associations each color carries with itself and what products they market with it.
Red is one of the main colors we make the other colors with. It has powerful associations to intensity, fire and blood, which is why it is often related to violence as well. But red can also mean strong passion, lustfulness and has powerful implications of love.
So red should be used if a design features anything related to:
Light Shades of red points towards things such as, sensitivity, love, joy and romance.
Dark shades of red point towards things like will power, sturdiness, leadership, and anger. You can often see that any fighting related advertisements, has a red and black theme. Like UFC’s commercials for example. Coincident?
Green symbolizes everything natural in the world, such as trees and plants. It carries associations of safety, trust, harmony and balance. If you look at a green wall for an extended period of time, it will calm your nerves and make your eye muscles ease up.
Green is used to promote health related products and services that offer reassurance and safety, such as life insurances. You have probably seen plenty of medical products featuring the color green in its design. This color is also closely related to money and wealth.
In summary, Green has the following associations:
Blue is a color that signifies clarity and trust, which is why Facebook is using it in its theme. You can see blue in the promotion of products and services that have something to do with trust, water, clarity and communication (only to name a few).
You can often see mechanics, architects and businessmen wearing blue, simply because the color inspires trust, whether they are aware of it or not. You can also see it on water purifiers, vodka and so on.
Blue has a lot of other associations worth mentioning:
- The Sky
- The Sea
Dark shades of blue have serious associations such as power, professionalism and influence.
Light shades have implications of communication, intelligence and clarity.
Yellow is a color associated with the sun and happiness. It also symbolizes intellect and honor. Looking at yellow will stimulate a person’s mental activity and make him or her more active. It’s a bright color, so it’s great for catching attention. It is also why it can have a disturbing effect too.
Yellow has to be combined with darker color, because the contrast makes a really great composition. Also, because it’s effects will lessen or disappear if it’s paired with other bright colors. You can use this color to ignite cheerful feelings within your websites visitor or to give a feeling of high-quality to your product.
In summary, yellow has associations with:
- The sun
- Holy Things
Orange is a color that ignites powerful feelings of motivation and joy within you when you look at it. It is a very energetic color that can be associated with sunshine, sexuality, motivation and drive. Also, it boosts oxygen production in the brain, which in return boosts brain activity. That’s why it’s such a motivating color.
Also, it has a very warm and welcoming feel to it, which is why people use orange mood lighting in their rooms.
In summary, orange represents the following things:
Light shades represent illumination, passion, wealth and wisdom.
Dark shades represent falsehood, lies, trickery and distrust.
Purple is the color of strong women, luxury and royalty. You can often see Kings wearing purple robes in the movies. It is a great color for promoting premium products.
In summary, purple has associations to things such as:
Light shades have very feminine associations.
Dark shades represent strong women and sad feelings.
White is used as a symbol of purity, oneness and peace. It also has associations with perfection. White can be used along with any other color in the spectrum, because it compliments them really well. It’s great for designs that promote anything related to health. It can also be used to symbolize virginity and divine beings such as angels. White is also associated with “the light” and Heaven.
White represents the following:
Black is the absence of all colors, which is why it’s only natural has associations with darkness, evil and other dark things. It also symbolizes mystery, demons and other evil things. Black is very elegant too, and it is mostly used to promote products that have something to with elegance and prestigious items.
Black has associations with death as well and it can create a truly aggressive color scheme if you combine it with any color.
Handling Images The Right Way
Photography goes hand in hand with web design and the right images provide the perfect tool for making your online space more beautiful. Also, when it comes to communication, people prefer images more than text. You can convey a lot of information through powerful visual elements and entertain your users with it as well.
You can even base your entire design around the picture, because it can set the color scheme. You can blend it in perfectly with the rest of your webpage and turn it into the focus of attention. Just make sure to choose the right images, according to the type of website you’re building.
Images have the same powerful effect on people as colors do. They affect their mood and drive some of their core emotions.
Also, a website looks empty without images, but you definitely shouldn’t upload some to fill it up. In fact, every image should have its own role and purpose in the entirety of your web design.
Use Images That Are Consistent With Your Brand
You want your pictures to blend with the type of products you’re offering. If you’re selling premium clothes than naturally, you want to hire a few models and have them show off in your new collection.
Quality Above Everything Else
Even if you’re taking a photo of a piece of poo, it has to be in high definition. We have a very mature audience on the internet that makes a strong distinction between high quality and low quality content. They are a lot less enthusiastic towards images that have a low resolution or stock photos copied from other websites.
Use Unique Photos
Once again, the mature audience we’re building our websites for today, have seen it all. They will instantly take note if they come across a stock photo, which will inevitably drive them away from your site. So, whatever you do, make sure your photos are unique and support your web design impeccably.
Photos Of People
Humans like to identify themselves with other humans they see and they also identify with the emotions they see on other people. Take the core emotions that drive your audience to buy your product and use pictures that reflect them.
For example, if you’re organizing weddings, a picture of a happy couple is a great idea. If you’re selling toys for babies, than an image of a happy baby, also works really well.
Illustrate Concepts With Images
A picture can say a thousand words and sometimes explaining what a product can do is easiest with an image. There is no place for filler images, only for images with a specific purpose.
Optimize Their Size
Images are some of the heaviest elements in a website. They can take up a lot of space without you even noticing it and the only problem you’ll see is that your website is loading slower.
Don’t Set Their Priority Too High
You shouldn’t place large images above the fold, because the first bit of space people see on your site can be used a lot more wisely. Start with a bit of text instead and give your visitors a reason to scroll down and see your images.
Create Atmosphere With Background Images
You can create a great atmosphere with background images and it will give your visitors a much more powerful impression on what your website is built around. Though, choose wisely, because big background images can also make your entire website look messy if you don’t watch it.
Use Unique And Engaging Content
Your website is basically your business card, so communicating with your user in a clear and efficient manner is the most important. People use language to communicate, so your primary means of communication is still your website’s content.
Think about it, we don’t just use the internet to communicate and find useful information, we also use it to browse and view content we enjoy.
So, in order to keep your visitors engaged and to keep them wanting to dig deeper into your site, you’ll have to provide them with a wealth of content.
Write Compelling Web Copies
Create a copy that educates, informs, guides and above all else, entertains your visitors. Use quotes, statistics and other research data to make your content more trustworthy and give it the space it deserves within your web design.
The best web content you can use is content that was written specifically for the web. If you combine text with good internal links, you help users dig deeper into the topics they’re interested in.
Speak Your Audience’s Language
Your primary goal should be speaking directly to your target audience, so make sure you speak the same language as them. If you’re providing an IT product for tech geeks, then use a few short sentences with calls to action that they will follow.
People prefer to see images instead of reading text and they prefer to watch videos above all else. Videos have proven to be 70% more successful than plan text, which makes sense. It’s also a good reason for you to implement it into your web design.
You can either embed YouTube videos, or make an awesome video header with a short clip. Using short clips in a website’s header has become increasingly popular.
Set The Appropriate Content Width
There are two main types of content width when it comes to web design. There’s the full-width content design and the boxed-width content design.
Full-width designs use the complete monitor space. They work well with creative websites, such as the ones you would build for a photographer or a videographer.
Boxed-width content designs leave some space on the side of the screen. They work best for business websites and sites that offer more text than videos or images.
Use Proper Typography
The more text your website has, the more reason you have to make a reasonable choice when selecting your website’s typography. But it’s just as important to choose a typeface that fits your buttons and your overall web design.
Here, we outline some of the main things you should take into consideration when choosing typography for your website.
Different font designs show different characteristics, such as „respectable“, „reputable“, „powerful“, „elegant“ and so on.
The most important thing about a website’s text is that people should be able to read it. Tthe number of characters per each line is also important. Consider the size of the screen your content is going to be displayed on and choose accordingly.
Keep Contrast In Mind
The text on your website should always be in contrast with the background, so it is easy to read. Otherwise, people would have to squint their eyes to be able to read it and of course, no one would bother to do that.
Make Sure It’s Compatible
Browsers have to be able to handle your website’s typography, and they are always changing and getting new updates, so it can be a real pain to handle their compatibility.
It’s best if you use a type family that was made for the web, such as the options offered by Google Fonts.
You can also use typography services that offer thousands of type options that are really easy to use.
There’s some inspiration to get started with. You can get a lot done simply by knowing what you’re designing your webpage for. Sitting down with a piece of paper will take you a long way and once you understand how to communicate certain ideas through your web design, you’ll build some solid websites.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this article and that you’ll make use the information!