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The Definitive Guide to Web Design [2021]

This is ultimate guide to website design in 2021.

And Let me be clear about something:

This is NOT your average Guide to "Web Design".

Yes, I'll cover important Web Design Guidelines.

But you are also going to learn secret tips to make your web design interactive.

So, if you are looking to build a website for your business, you'll love this guide.

The Definitive Guide to Web Design [2021]

“Good design is like a refrigerator—when it works, no one notices, but when it doesn’t, it sure stinks.” –Irene Au

Designing creative website layouts is not as easy as it may sound. It includes both the design and the functional element — meaning how the web page looks and how it works — keep in mind they are not exclusive of the other. The designing process can be quite tricky and intimidating, to say the least. Oh, it gets even more challenging when the brand is fresh and so are you.

For designers, there is no end to learning—it doesn’t matter how many years of practical experience they have — working on a new brand always starts from the ground up because design and development guidelines vary from project to project. But at the end of the day, you have to make sure that you are making all the right choices for the brand you are working with.

A Beginner’s Guide to Web Design

Knowing what you want in your web design is super easy — but designing and developing may not be. You want your website to look visually appealing, you want it to be user and SEO-friendly, you want to enhance your online presence and secure potential leads, right? Every business wants that.

But how would you know that what you are doing is going to help you achieve exactly what you want? There is no right answer because you wouldn’t know unless you actually start designing or building it. 

Therefore, in this web design guide, I will cover all the basic information about web designing and the important elements that make up a good design. You will also learn about how to structure your website, choose the best business engagement model moving forward, important design and functional elements to make your website stand out from the crowd. So stick around!

What is Website Design – A Quick Overview

Web design refers to the entire designing process including brainstorming, planning, visualizing, conceptualizing, and content placement. It’s not just about how to design your website layout or how to make a website look good on mobile, but instead, it goes above and beyond visual aesthetics.

On the other hand – a web design guide includes the UI/UX, fully responsive design, effective website design features, and web design research. Moreover, if you didn’t know that design greatly impacts the websites’ ranking on the Google search engine then let me enlighten you. The reason your web page shouldn’t just look good: it should function properly as well for optimal performance and user experience. 

website design guide - what makes a good UX
website design guide – what makes a good UX

Guidelines for Good Website Design

1. Overall structure

Ok, so if you ask me – what is the most important thing in website design, I would simply say: it should be organized and properly structured. Structured websites are clean, professional, and less cluttered. Cluttered websites, on the other hand, can frustrate users and make them bounce back with the speed of light. Meaningless websites give me a headache and I am not even kidding.

Good websites are built with the target audience in mind- they are not only accessible but user-friendly, too. A clean interface makes the website easily navigable and also makes it seamless for Google to crawl and index. 

2. Seamless navigation

Website navigation design is one of the most important elements that make up a good website and should be an integral part of your web design guide. If you want to generate leads and convert them into full-time paying customers and also want to keep them coming back for more — they should be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. User-friendly and intuitive navigation does wonders for your brand.

You can have a seamless navigation bar at the top of the page — all the main pages are highlighted with sub-pages grouped together in the drop-down. Also, one of the modern website navigation designs is to use an ‘Uber Menu’ — you can add icons with each menu item for more understanding and clarity. 

3. Appealing design

Since this is a web design guide, how can I not talk about design itself, even if it’s not the only thing in the entire design process, but it’s still a thing. Different, eye-catching, and creative web design makes your brand more outstanding. Your layout and themes should align with your target audience and your product. It should have a personality of its own.

It’s not just about adding sparkles, it’s more about having to do with optimal user experience. Highly optimized and responsive design is crucial for the success of your website, ultimately leading to a higher revenue stream.

4. Original content

One of the features of a good web design is to consider the needs of your users. Yes, your website visitors need authentic and relevant content to learn about your products and services. What’s the point – if they can’t even understand your brand.

Also, relevant content is good for SEO ranking. Make sure you have educating and highly optimized content for making the entire user journey as effortless as possible including:

    • Blog posts,
    • Product updates,
    • Case studies,
    • Infographics,
    • Product descriptions,
    • Support center, and most importantly
    • Contact info 

5. Web loading speed

It’s a universal truth that your website should take about 3 seconds to load – go longer than that and you are going to lose your potential customers. No one I say, no one likes to wait. Either it’s waiting for food, waiting in the queues outside a bank, or waiting for your website to load. In today’s world of 5G and high internet speed — people expect your site to deliver quickly.

Make sure your videos and graphics are optimized (compressed) and do not exceed a standard size because smaller MBs make the web load faster. Furthermore, you can always make use of AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages for fast-loading on mobile devices. 

6. Readability

Many teams overlook the readability factor — but it is one of the most crucial web page design concepts and important enough to be a part of your web design guide. Most of the time, people don’t like reading – they skim. I am one of those people, since I have a very little span of attention, I tend to roughly skim through the text for the gist of it.

Therefore, your content should have a hierarchy — meaning important things should stand out even when visitors are skimming through it. Use headings to break down longer paragraphs, which makes the content scanning easier. Moreover, use color contrasts to make it accessible for people with visual impairments.

7. Search engine optimization (SEO)

You should follow the SEO guidelines when you are curating your content. Use consistent headers (H1, H2, H3…), strategically place keywords in the content, make sure web URLs are properly structured, meta descriptions, tags, and titles are optimized. Good SEO makes your site visible on the search engine and therefore leads to higher ROI.

Some important SEO practices include (and are not limited to):

    • Backlinking,
    • Advertising and promotional campaigns, and
    • Thorough keyword research

Run SEO scan at least once a month — you can use SemRush or Ahrefs for detailed reports with errors.

* Key Takeaways *

    • The first impression is the last impression
    • You will lose your competitive edge if your design doesn’t stand out. 
    • Your design stands out – but not because it’s visually appealing, but because it is cluttered, disorganized, and unstructured. Do you want that?
    • Potential customers mostly weigh a brand’s authenticity and reliability based on the web design. Keep in mind!
    • Oftentimes, web visitors only like to skim through the text – The readability score should be 8 or 9 — You can use the Hemingway app to check the score.
    • Your web design should cater to the needs of people with impairments, as it would for those without. 
    • Your web design should be optimized and should load in under 4 seconds – or else you are in big trouble. 
    • Don’t overlook SEO.
    • Consistent design is the winning design.

UI or Visual Elements

    • Fonts – Your fonts should complement the overall design layout. They not only set the tone of the web page but also strengthen the design. Softwares like Canva’s font combinator can help you find the perfect font for the website. 
    • Web Copy – How to present your content and how it appears to people matters a lot. It helps you create a cohesive design. Make sure to break down your content into smaller chunks to compliment visual elements.
    • Color scheme – They are one of the most important parts of your web design guide. Through colors people can associate with your brand. Also focus on the psychology of colors and what they interpret, such as red represents love, power – yellow is a happy color, blue portrays reliability, and so on and so forth.
  • most popular web design tools - web design guide
    • Layout – The way you arrange the content in layout directly impacts the functionality and usability of the web app. Don’t use over-crowded layouts that may direct visitor’s attention to the things that matter least. 
    • Negative spacing – White spaces not only create visually appealing designs but also makes the entire website easy to navigate. Appropriate use of negative space can deliver a well-thought-out and balanced design. Try not to under or overdo it. 
    • Icons & illustrations – Using illustrations, images, videos, and icons can seamlessly communicate your message to brand audiences. The use of illustrations and icons is becoming increasingly popular. They draw visitors in. Moreover, visuals summarize the whole message and result in more engagement.
    • Micro-interactions – They make the design more interactive, such as when the user places the cursor on a button and it hovers.

who is in a web design team?

Important Roles in your Web Design & Development Team 

1. Web designers

 Web design can not happen without designers, for obvious reasons. Web designers are the ones who turn and shape your simple idea into badass design and graphics. Based on the requirements and expectations, they first come up with a mockup, which is just a sneak peek into how the actual design would look like.

Once the mockup is improved with feedback from all the major stakeholders, the design finally starts shaping up. But design doesn’t happen in isolation, with only designers being an integral part—it isn’t a one-person show. 

2. UI/UX designers

They work on layouts, and wireframes. UI/UX designers are responsible for enhancing the user experience through comprehensive research to understand users’ expectations. Oftentimes, people tend to confuse between the two – no UI and UX is not the same thing and no UI designer is not responsible for UX and vice versa.

Even though they are not the same, they still need to work together in harmony to deliver a winning website. UX designers work on the functionalities and connecting the dots, whereas UI designers are responsible for making the interface (look) pretty.

Recommended: A Comprehensive Guide to UI/UX Design

3. Web developers

Front-end and back-end developers come under the umbrella of web developers — both are coders. Back-end developers are responsible for creating the server-side of the web. PHP, Java Script, Python (not limited to) are some of the web languages that they are proficient in.

Basically, they manage all the front-end data. On the other hand, front-end developers (client-side) work closely with the UI designers and the layout provided by them. They make sure that the design is translated into a fully functional website.

4. Content & SEO

The content department and SEO team work closely together to make sure that the website is visible in the Google search engine. Copywriters provide killing content that sells. Their job is to address customer issues and give reasons for why they should choose your product. Whereas SEO identifies the highly selling keywords and how to incorporate them into your content to make an impact.

5. Project architect and manager

The project manager allots tasks, schedules the project, and provides estimated deadlines to complete each milestone. He plans out all the necessary administrative tasks and ensures the smooth coordination of team members. Similarly, the project architect is responsible for the ideation process — after complete market analysis, he defines the kind of app that the team is going to develop.

Business Engagement Models for Designing Your Website

1. In-house web design & development

 If you decide to go forward with in-house development, then remember you need to build your own web design teams from the ground up. To do that, companies go through an extensive recruitment process including job advertising, CV shortlisting, conducting interviews, employee onboarding, and training. 

Pros

    • In-house web design teams can align with your company’s culture.
    • No communication or collaboration issues.
    • Issues can be addressed in real-time. 
    • Instant availability of team members. 

Cons 

    • Costs of hiring an in-house team are higher.
    • Full-time employees may choose to work with the competitors because of the high salary value.
    • Projects may come to a sudden halt midway due to low employee retention, exceeding deadlines. 
    • Training the team is your responsibility.

2. Outsource a web design company

Outsourcing is when you delegate your entire project or some parts of it to external agencies who are experts in their domains. You can hire their web design team on a contract basis and once the project is concluded, you can discharge the contract as you please.

Outsourcing Engagement Models
Outsourcing engagement models

Google and Slack are some of the popular companies to outsource their IT developments. Speaking of which, outsourcing is the best step forward – the most cost-efficient web design and development option there is.

Pros

    • Outsourcing is cost-efficient, no need to set up costly development infrastructures or train employees. 
    • Access to a large pool of talent from all around the world – diverse skill set. 
    • They are proficient in different technologies – no limitations. 
    • High commitment level.  
    • No exceeding the deadlines. 
    • Multiple engagement models to choose from.

Cons

    • Communication barrier due to different time zones.
    • Lack of control over the project.
    • Privacy concerns.

Recommended: In-house vs Remote developers: What Should you Choose?

3. Hire individual freelancers

Hiring individual freelancers and not the agencies, give you more control over the project. You can control the look and feel of the website. But make sure to go through their portfolios and run proper due diligence just to be sure about their work quality.

Pros

    • Get full control and exactly what you want. 
    • Costs of hiring freelancers are reasonable. 

Cons

    • You may need to hire multiple developers and designers to work on your project -project, which is time-consuming.

Help Me Design a Website

Hopefully, this web design guide facilitated you in better understanding the essential components of a good website design. In the end, you just have to make sure that your design prioritizes users because they are the ones who will be deciding whether you succeed or fail.

You can choose website builders available in the market such as WordPress, Wix, etc but not all web building platforms offer everything you need, such as some are SEO-friendly and others not so much. Making the right choice is critical. But if you are designing from scratch – a balanced and consistent design is a winning design.

About InvoZone

InvoZone has over 7 years of experience in web design and development and has built more than 100 cutting-edge software solutions to help businesses grow and thrive in today’s highly competitive world. So if you too are looking for creative web designs, ping us today!

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