· webdesign · 10 min read
How to Design a Website: A Comprehensive Guide
The Internet is becoming more and more saturated, with countless new sites appearing every day. Standing out from the crowd is becoming a bigger challenge with each passing moment.
As designers, we’re fortunate that not everyone has a deep understanding of what makes a great web design. Although web design is a creative process that can be more art than science, it’s still a medium of presentation, and there are principles that can guide us. By following some simple pointers, anyone can create a visually appealing design and move one step closer to success. It’s not that easy, of course, and talent and experience do play a role, but even a beginner can improve the appearance of their homepage in just a few minutes.
What exactly makes a design visually appealing? It’s not just about flashy features like Flash animations. While there’s no denying that Flash has its uses, it’s not a guarantee of a good design - there are plenty of poorly designed Flash websites out there. Similarly, you don’t need to be a skilled illustrator to create an attractive design. Instead, it’s important to view web design as a combination of various elements. No single element is more important than the others - it’s the overall harmony of the elements that produces a beautiful design.
Maintain balance in your design
What is Asymmetrical Balance?
There are visual guidelines that help designers and artists produce aesthetically pleasing or even stunning compositions in both design and art. No of the complexity of the project, composition is an essential design skill that is involved. The spectator forms an emotional and mental association with a design when the composition is successful.
Visual balance is one of these compositional guidelines, and it’s probably one of the most crucial. So important that all else is lost if a design—photograph, work of art, or piece of architecture—doesn’t have a proper visual balance.
Asymmetry, more precisely asymmetrical balance, is one of the two crucial strategies to attain visual balance; the other being symmetry. Imagine a seesaw with a thick hippopotamus on the bottom right and a skinny giraffe in the top left with a scarf blowing to the left behind it.
The seesaw’s central mechanism serves as a point of equilibrium for the asymmetry; the long neck and scarf of the giraffe and the overstuffed rump of the hippopotamus balance each other out. Asymmetrical balance occurs when objects on the canvas are not symmetrical but rather counterbalance one another through color, shape, size, and texture.
Symmetrical Balance vs. Asymmetrical Balance
Draw a circle, a square, and a free-form shape on paper with a pen. Each shape should have a line running through its center from top to bottom. The circle and the square would be exactly mirrored on all sides if you folded each shape in half along the line, but not the free-form shape. The circle and square are symmetrical shapes, but the free-form shape is asymmetrical. The line that splits a shape in half is referred to as the line of symmetry.
Technically speaking, symmetry and asymmetry are opposites in design. When the design elements on either side of a line of symmetry are the same, there is balance and harmony established. This is referred to as symmetry. Contrarily, asymmetry describes the harmony and balance created when the design elements on either side of a central axis diverge yet are still in harmony with one another. You may build a well-balanced and visually appealing design by understanding the symmetry and asymmetry concepts.
Organize your design using grids
Grids are closely tied to the concept of balance in design. Essentially, grids are a series of vertical and horizontal lines that help you organize your design into sections. By dividing your design into columns or sections, you can improve the readability and overall visual appeal of the page. Additionally, spacing and the use of the Rule of the Golden Ratio can further enhance the design by making it easier on the eye and creating a more harmonious composition.
The main content area is about equal to the design’s width divided by 1.62 thanks to the Golden Ratio, which also explains why sidebars are often about a third of the width of the page. We won’t go into why this is the case, but it does appear to be the case in real life. Additionally, it explains why in professionally snapped photos, the subject is typically placed near the intersection of an imagined grid of nine squares rather than in the middle.
Minimalist designs often make great use of grids
Although the design itself is not aesthetically stunning, the pieces’ clean, rigid organization makes it pleasing to the eye. It merely seems natural that the left column would be nearly twice as wide as the right sidebar, so keep that in mind when making your own layouts.
Limit your design to two or three primary colors
There is a purpose for why websites like ColourLovers exist. You can’t just choose your colors with your weapons blazing, like Rambo. Some color combinations work better than others. There are many ideas about colors and their combinations, such as rules for monotone and contrasting schemes, but much of it comes down to common sense and intuition.
Discover for yourself what blends well. To obtain a sense of how colors interact with one another, take in as many website designs as you can, such those displayed on any of the several CSS showcase websites. Choose no more than two or three basic colors for your design, and when required, add tints, shades, and combinations of these colors to the palette.
Making a good color choice is just as crucial as making the right one (that is, the right colors for the job). “Earthy” colors like reds, browns, etc. would work nicely in a web design for a small, homey restaurant. Of course, there isn’t a recipe that will always work. Each hue conveys a different message, and it is up to you to determine what that message is.
Ensure that all graphics and visual elements work together harmoniously
Flashy visuals aren’t necessary for outstanding design. But a design will undoubtedly suffer from inadequate visuals. A graphic enhances a visual statement.
Even if you lack talent as an illustrator or photographer, you may still create stunning visuals for your website. All you need is a basic understanding of Photoshop, perhaps some stock photos, and excellent taste. Make an effort to make the visuals complement one another and reflect the design aesthetic you are going for. But not everyone is born with the same innate talent. While there are certain things you may learn from others, other times you just have to choose the approach that works best for you.
Enhance the typography of your website
Talking about the art of type may be challenging since it involves so many different aspects. Even though it may be thought of as a subset of design, learning all of its facets takes a lifetime. Since this isn’t the place for a comprehensive typographic reference, we’ll focus just on the things that will help you right now.
Compared to print typography, web typography suffers from limitations. The largest distinction is that because the Web is dynamic, we don’t have perfect control over how type will look. Undoubtedly, dynamic rendering offers advantages, but for the time being, Web designers have limited influence over the outcomes. Web typography is a difficult, if not tedious, undertaking due to the lack of typefaces on the user’s computer, variations in browser and platform rendering, and usually poor support in CSS. However, even if Web typography may not be fully realized until CSS 3, we now have the tools to make it interesting and, more importantly, beautiful.
Increase the visibility of design elements by adding ample white space around them
Negative space, often known as white space, refers to what is absent. White space, like measure and leading, offers text some breathing room and spatial tranquility. By surrounding components with white space, you may make them stand out. Copy, for instance, shouldn’t appear crowded. Make sure paragraphs have enough space between them to guarantee reading.
It seems appropriate to give a shameless promotion now. Shift, my personal website, is seen in the image above (px). Typography and white space are widely utilized in the design. About half of the page is likely made up of white space. One of the simplest and most efficient methods to make a design aesthetically beautiful and readable is to employ white space.
White space gives a design a lot of sophistication. Do not be afraid to leave certain gaps, even large ones, unfilled. Inexperienced designers are prone to trying to fill every empty space. Design is all about getting your point through. Therefore, design components should reinforce this message rather than detract from it.
Establish connections between all design elements
Although the word “connection” is somewhat fabricated, it serves our purposes here admirably. When discussing websites, “connection” refers to the degree to which the layout is unified and consistent throughout. Both of these characteristics are indicative of a professional level of design (and thus its designer). They are general characteristics. The colors, typefaces, icons, etc. used in a design should all work together harmoniously. All of these things matter, and even a beautiful design might have problems due to inconsistencies.
The user may not notice the design’s flaws as much if they are inconsistent. There is a fine line between consistency and unity. By “unity,” we mean the sense of harmonious coexistence among all the parts of a design. Do things like the colors and the graphics all go together? Does it all add up to a coherent whole? On the other side, continuity exists between the many components of a design.
Perhaps the importance of unity should be given more weight. Achieving design success without harmony is challenging. However, even if inconsistencies make the design look “sloppy,” that doesn’t necessarily make it “poor.”
The most crucial of the seven guiding principles discussed here is connection. The cohesiveness of a design depends on the way its many constituent parts work together. In a way, it can be thought of as the glue that holds everything together. The whole thing won’t hold together without this glue. The design will fall flat regardless of how lovely the typeface or how well-thought-out the color scheme is if the graphics are bad or don’t go together or if everything is thrown together hastily.
Getting over this stage is really challenging while designing. Because of this, it is not something that can be taught simply or even usually. To some extent, innate talent and experience are prerequisites. Well, it is what it is, and it does help a design seem excellent overall.
The seven guidelines presented here are not exhaustive. Accessibility, readability, and usability are also important factors.
Because of this, creating a website is a challenging task. There are many free resources accessible, including as content management systems, blogging tools, and themes, that make it simple to dip your toe into the creative world. However, it takes practice and, well, talent, to become an expert in every element of Web design. Possessing the capacity to create attractive designs is only one aspect, albeit a crucial one.