Introduction to Professional Web Design

When I originally set out to write this article, the question as I had it in my mind was “How long should it take to design a web site?”  After some reflection, I decided that while this question is a burning one for clients, it would be more comprehensive for me to ask what issues necessarily must be considered when doing design for the web?  What I’ll be doing in this article here is laying out some general areas for consideration, into which we shall delve further in detail in later articles.

To begin with it is best to consider the requirement of the customer client.  Not merely as a straightforward requirement; but rather for its practicability and level of feasibility. This is saying nothing more than that many clients are not deeply IT literate and will need some assistance in understanding their own optimum need.

This is not to say that the IT person always knows best because the design, feel and ambience, as well as many desirables for function and purpose for his site must adhere to what the client stipulates.  A developer and designer must listen to his clients.

Website Content

Website content is normally the chief determinant for the creation of the vehicular (purpose and function) parts of any website; parts like the design, the navigation, and layouts of data and so on.  The formats largely follow the nature of the content. For example:

  • Type(s) of content largely determines the design of a website (regular pages of text and pictures vs. tabular data vs. media gallery vs. etc.)
  • The variety of content requires a corresponding variety of layouts
  • The amount of content can affect the way navigation is implemented, as well as other features like search, hierarchy, etc.

You will need to hire a good designer, one who is able creatively to match not just your wishes for how your site will look but who is able to integrate content and your wishes into a look and feel that is persuasive and attractive but at the same time functional and offers ease of use. So as to obtain this sometimes elusive combination considerable experience and artistry is required from a designer. It pays to inspect the previous works of any designers in the frame to create your website so that you choose one who suits your preferences and needs.


Function, what your website is going to do, impacts strongly on its design. Sites mostly for display of data alone are generally less complex and involved in their build and workings than are sites on which calculations, movements of data, and even software developments happen. These more intricate specifications sometimes may have differing emphases to impress upon users; such as how to use them and where to find wizards and clarity of procedure. These will clearly take precedence over a criterion for displaying images seductively for sale.

Identity and Branding

One of the most crucial aspects of site creation is to arrange the layout of your branding so that it impresses favourably straightaway visitors who come to the site. The landing page is the ‘hook’ which draws in the curious or the impressed visitor for her to go into the site prower and look around.  This generally always means that you must seek to have a strong identity for your site and exploit that identity in choosing its design and layouts.

A brand identity might be transferred from an older idea or may be made entirely anew.  It is worth spending time mulling over potential site identities before you finally commit, since this is one of the key factors that will or will not sell your site (and goods/services) to others

Screen Size Considerations

Impinging upon design is the scale of the apparatus that accesses views of your site pages. Since more and more commerce and browsing is being done on the hoof via tablets and phones you might want to check and see how your prospective site is going to show on the smaller scale of these apps?  Clearly items like font sizes and quantities of data on screen at any one page are going to interfere with how communicative your layout is able to be at smaller magnitudes. Keys that navigate pages and links also need to be useable at smaller scale viewing

Browser Compatibility

There is a considerable range of browsers to choose from. There are many versions older and newer within each of these.  Older versions (like IE7 and below for instance) will often inhibit certain more recent display techniques that they cannot support. But it is not necessarily so that a latest browser version is always desirable.  From experience it can be shown that certain sectors of users of the web retain older versions of browsers usually because the resource to upgrade regularly a large number of instances is prohibitive for them. Government and public sector bodies are more likely to fall into this type of web user. So if your target audiences are in these areas then a design capable of displaying and functioning well on an older browser version might be best for you?

Further, there are a number of plugins and add-ons which are browser specific and if you feel you want your audiences to make use of certain ones you must choose the right browser for them to be supported.

Website design then, can easily become a complex and thought-absorbing procedure. This means, since some problems are less intractable than others, that particularly with complex builds, one cannot easily pin down exact time estimates for getting together an agreed specification or, less so, for the build which follows thereafter.

Based on experience a good developer will be able to give you a duration within which she feels a task can be completed. But if she has to accommodate a run of in-process client-side changes, which all designers prefer not to do, and much prefer specifications agreed up front and stayed with, this elastic duration might be stretched a way further.

Clients on the other hand almost unanimously are chaffed and aggravated by designers’ timeframes that are offered to them. Client’s have different schedules and agendas than designers; which are what cause a mutually-felt incongruity of understanding: that is – parties not seeing from the other party’s perspectives.

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