What is Web Design?

What is Web Design?  What is the role of a website?

A website is a collection of pages that display content on the web.  When planning a website we always want to begin by asking ourselves the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of this website?
  • Who is my target audience?

These two questions will inform the choices we make in creating successful websites.

Although we are not all web designers most of us are experienced web users and know when we have landed on a poorly designed site.  Studies conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group show the following:

Summary: Users often leave Web pages in 10–20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer. To gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.



The term, value proposition is used in marketing to refer to an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers.  This information brings us more questions to consider when planning a website:

  • How will the viewer experience the content of my website?
  • How will I attract and reach my target audience?

So, what makes for strong website design?

Although designers break the rules below are a few rules to keep in mind when designing a website:

      1.  COLOR, COLOR, COLOR!!!!!  Don’t let color be an afterthought.  Color (even limited color) is a strong design statement.  How do your color choices support and enhance the information that you are presenting on your site?  There are some great websites that can help with color ideas.

Adobe Color
Colour Lovers

2.  FONT, FONT, FONT!!!!!!!  The same that is said of color can be said for font.  What font works best to deliver the content?  If we want to be bold with our use of font we can do so in the Header.  When displaying large areas of text on the web we want to check for readability.  How will we use typographic contrast and flow to communicate our content to the viewer?  When working with type how and when will we introduce contrast?  When will we change the size of our font?  When will we working with spacing?  How can we use font to create visual hierarchy of information?

3.  Use images and icons when possible.  If you can communicate your idea with an icon or image do so.  Maybe your icon will be a link to text that the viewer needs to access?  Through clicking an icon to access information we are engaging the viewer.  (And most viewers are not interested in starting on a web page with large areas of text.)


2 thoughts on “What is Web Design?

  1. About a year ago I attempted to create a web page for my women’s group. I felt overwhelmed because it was I was experiencing difficulties with what I wanted the page to say as well as determining the look of the page. But in reading this article I now realize there are two important questions I should have spent time reflecting on prior to jumping into creating the page. “What is the purpose of the Website” and “How will I attract and reach my target audience?” I spent more time on trying to create links and upload photos versus paying attention to the details of the content.
    As a web user I agree with the research that states users will leave a web page within 10-20 seconds if the value proposition isn’t clear. In my line of work I am often conducting research via the web, I will quickly scan the page for the information that I am seeking, if I am not able to identify key points right away I normally exit the page and restart my search.
    I will use the key points from this article during the process of preparing to create my web page. I also think these points will assist me in visualizing how I want my website to appear.

    1. maggie

      Thanks so much for your feedback, Stacey! Sometimes in order to figure out what works we need to do what doesn’t work…. It sounds like you know where to start as you set out to build your next website.

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