How does a Website Come to Existance? Website Design Basics Chapter 1: Basic Concepts

by | Apr 25, 2024 | Website Design Basics, Alstra Technical Blog

What is web design?

Web design is an art that involves planning and laying out content on a website so that it can be shared and viewed online by users worldwide. This design blends aesthetic and functional elements that determine the visual appearance of a website, including colors, fonts, graphics, and the user interface (UI).

Today website building has become the core of online business. As a result, the field of web design continues to maintain its vibrant trends. This includes not only traditional web design, but also mobile apps and user interface design to accommodate the growing needs of website owners and visitors.

Web design is often a collaborative, interdisciplinary process that integrates knowledge and tools from several related fields, from web design statistics to search engine optimization to user experience. In the process, web designers need to understand the knowledge and techniques of each field, collaborate with professionals from different backgrounds, work together to optimize the performance of the site, and keep an eye on the big picture and end result of the entire project.

This post will be divided into multiple chapters due to the richness of details, with the intention of providing local merchants in Toronto, Canada with the basics of web design and development to facilitate future online ventures.

This post starts with the basic concepts of web development and the most important elements of website functionality.


The relationship between web design and web development

While web design is concerned with the visual presentation and user experience of a website, web development involves the construction and maintenance of the structure of a website, including the programming and system administration that ensures that the website functions properly.

These two areas are closely linked and inseparable. A mature design and development team needs to have technical skills in both areas.

In creating a website, Web developers typically use the following basic markup languages:

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): It is the programming language used to build the front-end of a website and is responsible for defining the structure of a web page, which is converted by web browsers into the pages we see on the Internet.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): This is a design language that contains all the styling information that controls the display of a web page.CSS works in tandem with HTML to design the layout, fonts, spacing, and other visual effects of a website or web page.

With the popularity of Content Management Systems (CMS), it has become easier and more efficient to create and update websites.

The Beginning of Web Design

There are a few key issues to consider before you start building your website:

  • Team size: How many members are on your team?
  • Budget allocation: How much budget have you allocated for the website build?
  • Technical Requirements: What technical requirements does the website need to fulfill?
  • Aesthetic pursuits: what overall aesthetic do you want the website to present?
  • Design type: Do you intend to create an adaptive or responsive design?
  • Targeting: what is the website built for?

Answering these questions will help you determine the right website building tools or professionals needed.

For startups or individuals, there are several advantages to using website builders like Wix, GoDaddy, and Squarespace, especially because they allow websites to be created without coding and offer a wide range of preset templates. But these platforms also have fatal flaws. For more information on these tools, check out this article: No-Code Sitebuilders for beginners Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace. What are the myths and beginner pitfalls?

As your specific needs for web design become clearer, you will be able to identify which tools and what kind of design and development team is best suited for your business needs.


Basic Concepts for Web Development


Website Appearance and Layout

Designing a website layout is the equivalent of building the framework for a website, which determines the placement and order of the visual elements on each page of the site. This critical step in web design is essential to the visual style, usability, and delivery of information on a website.

Determining the ideal layout for a website requires consideration of several factors: the goals of the site, the message to be conveyed to visitors, and the type of content that will be included. While there is no one layout for all situations, there are two main layout directions to look at:

  1. Content-adapted layout: the layout should match the type of content. For example, if you need to display products, you may choose a layout that emphasizes space for images; while a blog may need a layout that clearly conveys new information.
  2. Common Layout Patterns: There exist a number of proven website layout patterns that are based on users’ expectations and experiences with other websites and therefore can feel familiar. They often provide intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces that are suitable for novice adopters.

When considering what kind of website you need, you can refer to various types of website types to see your preferences and how they fit with your business.


Functional Parts of the Website

Website functionality covers the mechanics of running a website, including page loading speed, user experience, and the various actions users can perform on the website.

The most important aspects of website functionality are the following:


Website Navigation

Navigation is a key element of web design that helps visitors find the information they are looking for or accomplish specific tasks on a website. An intuitive and easy-to-understand navigation system is essential to providing a good user experience.

Website navigation usually consists of the following most important aspects:

  • Menu bar: this is the most common form of navigation and is usually located at the top or bottom of a web page. Menu bars can contain multiple levels of links that allow users to access major sections or specific pages of a website.
  • Search function: for websites that contain a large amount of content, providing a search box can help users quickly find the information they are interested in.
  • Tabs or filters: On pages displaying a large number of items (e.g., product listings, blog posts, etc.), tabs or filters can help users sift through and browse content based on specific criteria.
  • Mobile navigation: for mobile devices, websites need to have responsive navigation to provide a good navigation experience even on devices with smaller screen sizes.

When designing website navigation, designers need to consider user habits, the site’s information architecture, and how content is organized to ensure that the navigation system is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.


Loading Speed

Website speed is an important aspect of user experience that directly affects a visitor’s first impression and satisfaction with a website. In today’s fast-moving digital age, users expect quick responses and a seamless experience, so website loading speed is critical to boosting conversions.

Factors that affect page load speed include:

  • Server response time: the faster the server processes requests, the shorter the website load time.
  • Website content: the size of elements such as images, videos and code on a web page directly affects load time. Optimizing these resources can significantly improve loading speeds.
  • Browser Cache: Browsers store data from visited websites to speed up subsequent visits. Proper use of cache can reduce load times for duplicate content.
  • Internet connection speed: The speed of a visitor’s Internet connection can also affect the loading experience of a website.
  • Website structure and code optimization: Good website structure and efficient code can reduce unnecessary loading time.

To improve website performance and page loading speed, you can use tools and methods such as:

  • Deploying a CDN to speed up content distribution globally.
  • Use browser caching strategies to ensure that content loads quickly on repeated visits.
  • Compressing website resources to reduce file sizes for faster loading.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy for improving a website’s ranking in search engine results. Given its critical role in the success of a website, we see it as an important part of a website’s functionality. Obviously, being able to be found more easily on search engines like Google means that your website will attract more visitors.

While SEO is a long-term process, there are some basic measures that can be implemented starting as early as the website design and development stage. Before launching your website, it’s a good idea to adopt the following common SEO practices: make sure each page has a compelling title, set clear alt text for images, use engaging meta descriptions on appropriate pages, and choose a domain name that reflects your brand or business.


User Experience

User experience (UX) is a broad concept that is often closely related to user interface design (UI) and usability, but they are all just part of what makes up the overall user experience vision. UX designers focus on these aspects of a product, but their work doesn’t stop there. They also need to consider the big picture of a product’s development and look for ways to improve and enhance the product, brand, design, usability and functionality.

To ensure that a website delivers high-quality interactions, content, products, and services, UX designers focus on improving the following seven key factors:

  • Usefulness: ensuring that the website provides the information and functionality that users actually need.
  • Usability: Make the site easy to use, so that users can easily complete tasks.
  • Findability: Users are able to quickly find the information or functionality they need.
  • Trustworthiness: Builds user trust in the content of the site, including privacy protection and data security.
  • Attractiveness: Website design should be in line with user aesthetics and provide a pleasant visual experience.
  • Accessibility: Ensure that the website is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
  • Value: The value provided by the website should match the needs and expectations of the user.

UX designers will improve overall user satisfaction and loyalty to a website by continually iterating and improving these factors.

We will introduce more about website visual elements in our next article!

Alstra is a custom website designer and online solutions specialist based in Toronto, Canada. Our web designers focus not only on the look of the website, but optimize it from all angles, working to make Toronto business websites stand out from the competition.

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