What is web design?

If you’re new to this blog, you’ll know that I, Amy, am not a traditional designer. In fact, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure that people know I build websites, I do SEO for websites, I run a web design company, but that I’m not a designer.

However, the more I talk to clients about their websites, the more I realize how wrong I actually am. I am a designer, but not in the way that most people when they think of design. Even though I’ve been building websites for thirteen years, I still think of “design” and think of colors, graphics, fonts, and logos. How to pick colors that match, how to coordinate the graphics so they are appealing. I fell into the trap of not even realizing that when it comes to what web design really is, it’s more than just colors and fonts.

Web design isn’t just about a website’s appearance

Although of course, we want websites to be attractive and look nice. And that’s design too. But if you dig deeper into what is web design, you’ll find out that web design goes far beyond the appearance of the website. We aren’t just designing how a website looks… we’re designing a website experience.

What is web design?

Web design includes designing a user-experience

Far beyond what colors you want on the website, and far, far more important, is the experience you want your user to have when they get there. For most of us who run websites, people don’t just accidentally land on it. Someone isn’t clicking through on a cat photo and landing on your business website. (At least unless you sell cat products.)

Design includes designing that experience that the user will have when they get there. Not just what they see, but what they do. What do we want the users to do when they land on the site? How will know what comes next? How will they navigate and interact with the site?

Design means planning for your target audience

So often when I talk to new clients, I ask who their target audience is and they say “everyone!” This is almost NEVER true. Your business has a target audience. There is a specific subset of people who are interested in your product or service. If you are a home remodeling company, then your target audience is homeowners. If you are selling personalized baby products, then your target audience is going to be parents, and you can take that a little farther and narrow that down to moms because it’s the moms who do most of the buying of these types of products.

Almost every type of business has a certain type of audience that’s most likely to convert, and that’s who we want to plan your website for. We want to research that audience and find out what they like, what they are looking for online, and how they interact with websites.

And part of designing a website is designing for that specific target audience. Knowing who they are is incredibly helpful. For example, if your audience is seniors, then you should know that seniors prefer longer web pages with more information and less navigation and of course, a larger font.

It is imperative that when you plan for a website, you design a website that meets the needs of your audience.

Web design includes the content

I can show you some lovely website concepts that are filled with filler Lorem Ipsum text. And you’ll get the idea of how the website will look and feel. But web design, when done well, means understanding how the content plays a role. And this doesn’t mean what size the content font is or where it’s placed on the page.

A well-done website will plan for how the content will draw and attract your customers. It’s not about placement, but about the words used on the page.

Yes, that too is design. We’re designing how to use the content on your website to create a better user-experience and to create a better converting page.

Web design isn’t about the overall look but about the overall strategy

Yes, we’re designing something that looks great, but the appearance is just a small part of the overall design. Your website’s strategy is by design. Everything we do on your website should answer a question and that question is just one word: WHY? Every thing we put on a website should have a reason.

We get asked to do things on websites all the time and if it’s not clear to me, I always ask why. WHY should we add a button there? Why should we add more text? Why should we include this specific graphic?

Your website is not just an online business card. Your website is marketing. Your website is often times the first impression your business makes on a potential client or customer. The design we implement, both in appearance and strategy, can play an enormous role in your business success. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a website that is designed for good user-experience and customer conversion. It’s easy to get distracted by fanciness and get sucked into stupid website tricks that distract your user from their intent. But that is poor design.

For many years I never considered myself a designer, because I can’t coordinate colors or pick fonts and graphics. But I can plan for a user-experience. I understand how a target audience uses websites and I know how to plan for that audience. I know how a button’s placement can make a difference on whether it gets clicked or not. And I understand how to arrange and organize content so that your users can find what they need and increase the chance of converting them into customers.

That’s all web design, and only some of that includes the types of things typically attributed to traditional design. Design is so much more.

Design is strategy.

Let us help you design a website strategy for your business. You may be surprised how much you learn about the importance of a good web design strategy and how big of a difference that can make on your bottom line.

Contact us today to request a quote or find out more about how we can help you.

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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