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What is Web Design

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Web design is a creative process. In the old days (a few years ago - which is ages in the lifespan of the Internet), web design meant something very specific. You paid a web designer to create an appealing website design. You were shown a few concepts and based on that you chose your design. The designer then handed the designs to a developer who sliced them and implemented them in HTML. The developer would then FTP your site to the production enviroment and presto - job done!

Today things are very different. The internet has become much more sophisticated. Web designers have many wonderful tools at their disposal to push boundaries and create unique and interesting web designs. Websites have become much more interactive and dynamic. With this growth a number of challenges have arisen. The most notable of which is browser standardisation. Some browsers just don't play ball and like to put their own spin on things. This makes cross-browser testing a vital consideration for modern developers and designers.

Web design typically covers the following areas;

  • Graphic design
  • Layout
  • Interface design
  • Frontend development (HTML, CSS & Javacscript)
  • Usability and user experience

All web designers are individuals - some may choose to focus and specialise on a particular area such as user experience design while others may choose to cover all areas. Just how far to go down this list of skills is up to each individual designer.

In recent years, particularly since the release of the JQuery and JQuery UI Javascript libraries in late 2006, interactive websites have become much more mainstream. JQuery and JQuery UI made interactive features simple to implemente.

Web design is also a balancing act. Web designers must balance creative urges with other considerations like usability, user experience and search engine optimisation to deliver optimal web designs.

There are also some fundamental basics that all web designers should know in order to function as part of a broader web development team. Web developers often depend entirely on web designers to deliver a usable design. A poor design, lacking consistency or designed to the wrong resolution can severely delay a project. Basics like quality of code, SEO suited designs and usability are critical skills for any designer to master.

Web design is a vital cog in the web development machine. A good web designer can improve productivity and the quality and appeal of websites produced by the team.