Web design refers to the design of websites that are displayed on the internet. It usually refers to the user experience aspects of website development rather than software development. Web design used to be focused on designing websites for desktop browsers; however, since the mid-2010s, design for mobile and tablet browsers has become ever-increasingly important.
A web designer works on the appearance, layout, and, in some cases, content of a website. Appearance relates to the colors, font, and images used. Layout refers to how information is structured and categorized. A good web design is easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and suits the user group and brand of the website. Many webpages are designed with a focus on simplicity, so that no extraneous information and functionality that might distract or confuse users appears. As the keystone of a web designer’s output is a site that wins and fosters the trust of the target audience, removing as many potential points of user frustration as possible is a critical consideration.
Two most common methods for designing websites that work well both on desktop and mobile are responsive and adaptive design. In responsive design, content moves dynamically depending on screen size; in adaptive design, the website content is fixed in layout sizes that match common screen sizes. Preserving a layout that is as consistent as possible between devices is crucial to maintaining user trust and engagement. As responsive design can present difficulties in this regard, designers must be careful in relinquishing control of how their work will appear. If they are responsible for the content as well, while they may need to broaden their skillset, they will enjoy having the advantage of full control of the finished product.
Web design is the process of creating websites. It encompasses several different aspects, including webpage layout, content production, and graphic design. While the terms web design and web development are often used interchangeably, web design is technically a subset of the broader category of web development.
Websites are created using a markup language called HTML. Web designers build webpages using HTML tags that define the content and metadata of each page. The layout and appearance of the elements within a webpage are typically defined using CSS, or cascading style sheets. Therefore, most websites include a combination of HTML and CSS that defines how each page will appear in a browser.
Some web designers prefer to hand code pages (typing HTML and CSS from scratch), while others use a “WYSIWYG” editor like Adobe Dreamweaver. This type of editor provides a visual interface for designing the webpage layout and the software automatically generates the corresponding HTML and CSS code. Another popular way to design websites is with a content management system like WordPress or Joomla. These services provide different website templates that can be used as a starting point for a new website. Webmasters can then add content and customize the layout using a web-based interface.
While HTML and CSS are used to design the look and feel of a website, images must be created separately. Therefore, graphic design may overlap with web design, since graphic designers often create images for use on the Web. Some graphics programs like Adobe Photoshop even include a “Save for Web…” option that provides an easy way to export images in a format optimized for web publishing.