What is web design?

When looking at the topic of web design from the 50,000 foot level, it is “simply” (ha!) the planning, creation and upkeep of websites. Common topics or specialties associated with web design include:

  • Information architecture and site structure
  • Navigation
  • Usability
  • User experience (UX)
  • User interface (UI)

Then there are the more traditional “design as imagery” components:

  • Colors
  • Images and photos
  • Layout
  • Type

But web design also embraces:

  • Accessibility
  • Backend “stuff” (hosting services, DNS, security)
  • Code and languages (HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby, PHP, Python, SQL…)
  • Devices
  • Domain names
  • Platforms
  • SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Testing (functional, user acceptance)

Once-upon-a-time, we tried to teach folks who were accustomed to an 8.5×11 world that a computer monitor was oriented as 11×8.5 — and visual designs needed to adapt to a horizontal world. Today, with the rise of the smartphone-as-Internet-device, we are returning to a vertical world. Well, we’re having to embrace both a vertical world and a horizontal world at the same time. How can we do this? With design.

Your guide to web design




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