Web design is the skill of creating presentations of content (usually hypertext or hypermedia) that is delivered to an end-user through the World Wide Web, by way of a Web browser or other Web-enabled software like Internet television clients, microblogging clients and RSS readers.
The intent of web design is to create a web site—a collection of electronic files that reside on a web server/servers and present content and interactive features/interfaces to the end user in form of Web pages once requested. Such elements as text, bit-mapped images (GIFs, JPEGs), forms can be placed on the page using HTML/XHTML/XML tags. Displaying more complex media (vector graphics, animations, videos, sounds) requires plug-ins such as Flash, QuickTime, Java run-time environment, etc. Plug-ins are also embedded into web page by using HTML/XHTML tags.
Improvements in browsers’ compliance with W3C standards prompted a widespread acceptance and usage of XHTML/XML in conjunction with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to position and manipulate web page elements and objects. Latest standards and proposals aim at leading to browsers’ ability to deliver a wide variety of media and accessibility options to the client possibly without employing plug-ins.
Typically web pages are classified as static or dynamic:
Static pages don’t change content and layout with every request unless a human (web master/programmer) manually updates the page. A simple HTML page is an example of static content.
With growing specialization in the information technology field there is a strong tendency to draw a clear line between web design and web development.
Web design is a kind of graphic design intended for development and styling of objects of the Internet’s information environment to provide them with high-end consumer features and aesthetic qualities. The offered definition separates web design from web programming, emphasizing the functional features of a web site, as well as positioning web design as a kind of graphic design.
The process of designing web pages, web sites, web applications or multimedia for the Web may utilize multiple disciplines, such as animation, authoring, communication design, corporate identity, graphic design, human-computer interaction, information architecture, interaction design, marketing, photography, search engine optimization and typography.
Markup languages (such as HTML, XHTML and XML)
Style sheet languages (such as CSS and XSL)
Server-side scripting (such as PHP and ASP)
Database technologies (such as MySQL and PostgreSQL)
Multimedia technologies (such as Flash and Silverlight)
Web pages and web sites can be static pages, or can be programmed to be dynamic pages that automatically adapt content or visual appearance depending on a variety of factors, such as input from the end-user, input from the Webmaster or changes in the computing environment (such as the site’s associated database having been modified).
With growing specialization within communication design and information technology fields, there is a strong tendency to draw a clear line between web design specifically for web pages and web development for the overall logistics of all web-based services.
Accessible Web design
Main article: Web accessibility
To be accessible, web pages and sites must conform to certain accessibility principles. These accessibility principles are known as the WCAG when talking about content. These can be grouped into the following main areas.
Use semantic markup that provides a meaningful structure to the document (i.e. web page)
Semantic markup also refers to semantically organizing the web page structure and publishing web services description accordingly so that they can be recognized by other web services on different web pages. Standards for semantic web are set by IEEE
Use a valid markup language that conforms to a published DTD or Schema
Provide text equivalents for any non-text components (e.g. images, multimedia)
Use hyperlinks that make sense when read out of context. (e.g. avoid “Click Here”)
Don’t use frames
Use CSS rather than HTML tables for layout
Author the page so that when the source code is read line-by-line by user agents (such as a screen readers) it remains intelligible. (Using tables for design will often result in information that is not
However, W3C permits an exception where tables for layout either make sense when linearized or an alternate version (perhaps linearized) is made available.
Website accessibility is also changing as it is impacted by Content Management Systems that allow changes to be made to webpages without the need of obtaining programming language knowledge.
It is very important that several different components of Web development and interaction can work together in order for the Web to be accessible to people with disabilities. These components include:
content – the information in a Web page or Web application, including:
natural information such as text, images, and sounds
code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc.
Web browsers, media players, and other “user agents”
assistive technology, in some cases – screen readers, alternative keyboards, switches, scanning software, etc.
users’ knowledge, experiences, and in some cases, adaptive strategies using the Web
developers – designers, coders, authors, etc., including developers with disabilities and users who contribute content
authoring tools – software that creates Web sites
evaluation tools – Web accessibility evaluation tools, HTML validators, CSS validators, etc.
Tim Berners-Lee published what is considered to be the first website in August 1991. Berners-Lee was the first to combine Internet communication (which had been carrying email and the Usenet for decades) with hypertext (which had also been around for decades, but limited to browsing information stored on a single computer, such as interactive CD-ROM design). Websites are written in a markup language called HTML, and early versions of HTML were very basic, only giving a website’s basic structure (headings and paragraphs), and the ability to link using hypertext. This was new and different from existing forms of communication – users could easily navigate to other pages by following hyperlinks from page to page.
As the Web and web design progressed, the markup language changed to become more complex and flexible, giving the ability to add objects like images and tables to a page. Features like tables, which were originally intended to be used to display tabular information, were soon subverted for use as invisible layout devices. With the advent of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), table-based layout is commonly regarded as outdated. Database integration technologies such as server-side scripting and design standards like W3C further changed and enhanced the way the Web is made. As times change, websites are changing the code on the inside and visual design on the outside with ever-evolving programs and utilities.
With the progression of the Web, tens of thousands of web design companies have been established around the world to serve the growing demand for such work. As with much of the information technology industry, many web design companies have been established in technology parks in the developing world as well as many Western design companies setting up offices in countries such as India, Romania, and Russia to take advantage of the relatively lower labor rates found in such countries.
Purposing web design is a complex, but essential ongoing activity. Before creating and uploading a website, it is important to take the time to plan exactly what is needed in the website. Thoroughly considering the audience or target market, as well as defining the purpose and deciding what content will be developed, are extremely important.
Web design is similar (in a very simplistic way) to traditional print publishing. Every website is an information display container, just as a book; and every web page is like the page in a book. However, web design uses a framework based on digital code and display technology to construct and maintain an environment to distribute information in multiple formats. Taken to its fullest potential, web design is undoubtedly the most sophisticated and increasingly complex method to support communication in today’s world.
It is essential to define the purpose of the website as one of the first steps in the planning process. A purpose statement should show focus based on what the website will accomplish and what the users will get from it. A clearly defined purpose will help the rest of the planning process as the audience is identified and the content of the site is developed. Setting short and long term goals for the website will help make the purpose clear and plan for the future when expansion, modification, and improvement will take place. setting a goal practices and measurable objectives should be identified to track the progress of the site and determine success.
Defining the audience is a key step in the website planning process. The audience is the group of people who are expected to visit your website – the market being targeted. These people will be viewing the website for a specific reason and it is important to know exactly what they are looking for when they visit the site. A clearly defined purpose or goal of the site as well as an understanding of what visitors want to do or feel when they come to your site will help to identify the target audience. Upon considering who is most likely to need or use the content, a list of characteristics common to the users such as:
Taking into account the characteristics of the audience will allow an effective website to be created that will deliver the desired content to the target audience.
Content evaluation and organization requires that the purpose of the website be clearly defined. Collecting a list of the necessary content then organizing it according to the audience’s needs is a key step in website planning. In the process of gathering the content being offered, any items that do not support the defined purpose or accomplish target audience objectives should be removed. It is a good idea to test the content and purpose on a focus group and compare the offerings to the audience needs. The next step is to organize the basic information structure by categorizing the content and organizing it according to user needs. Each category should be named with a concise and descriptive title that will become a link on the website. Planning for the site’s content ensures that the wants or needs of the target audience and the purpose of the site will be fulfilled.
Compatibility and restrictions
Because of the market share of modern browsers (depending on your target market), the compatibility of your website with the viewers is restricted. For instance, a website that is designed for the majority of websurfers will be limited to the use of valid XHTML 1.0 Strict or older, Cascading Style Sheets Level 1, and 1024×768 display resolution. This is because Internet Explorer is not fully W3C standards compliant with the modularity of XHTML 1.1 and the majority of CSS beyond 1. A target market of more alternative browser (e.g. Firefox, Safari and Opera) users allow for more W3C compliance and thus a greater range of options for a web designer.
Another restriction on webpage design is the use of different image file formats. The majority of users can support GIF, JPEG, and PNG (with restrictions). Again Internet Explorer is the major restriction here, not fully supporting PNG’s advanced transparency features, resulting in the GIF format still being the most widely used graphic file format for transparent images.
Many website incompatibilities go unnoticed by the designer and unreported by the users. The only way to be certain a website will work on a particular platform is to test it on that platform.
Wikiversity has learning materials about Web design
Web design is similar (in a very simplistic way) to traditional print publishing. Every website is an information display container, just as a book is a container; and every web page is like the page in a book. However, web design uses a framework based on digital code and display technology to construct and maintain an environment to distribute information in multiple formats. Taken to its fullest potential, web design is undoubtedly the most sophisticated and increasingly complex method to support communication in today’s world.
For the typical web sites, the basic aspects of design are:
The content: the substance, and information on the site should be relevant to the site and should target the area of the public that the website is concerned with.
The usability: the site should be user-friendly, with the interface and navigation simple and reliable.
The appearance: the graphics and text should include a single style that flows throughout, to show consistency. The style should be professional, appealing and relevant.
The visibility: the site must also be easy to find via most, if not all, major search engines and advertisement media.
A web site typically consists of text and images. The first page of a web site is known as the Home page or Index. Some web sites use what is commonly called a Splash Page. Splash pages might include a welcome message, language or region selection, or disclaimer. Each web page within a web site is an HTML file which has its own URL. After each web page is created, they are typically linked together using a navigation menu composed of hyperlinks. Faster browsing speeds have led to shorter attention spans and more demanding online visitors and this has resulted in less use of Splash Pages, particularly where commercial web sites are concerned.
Once a web site is completed, it must be published or uploaded in order to be viewable to the public over the internet. This may be done using an FTP client. Once published, the web master may use a variety of techniques to increase the traffic, or hits, that the web site receives. This may include submitting the web site to a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo, exchanging links with other web sites, creating affiliations with similar web sites, etc.
– Thanks To Wikepedia