Mastering website design part 1: Learn the basic principles

Designing a website? Then our short guide will go over the basics you need to know to make your online presence stand out.
Christopher McFadden
Stock photo: Building your own website isn't too challenging with the right tools.
Stock photo: Building your own website isn't too challenging with the right tools.

Canan turan/iStock  

  • Any company or organization wishing to create an online presence in the current digital age must have a website.
  • A website must be well-designed to attract and keep visitors; merely having a website is no longer enough.
  • But where do you start?

If you are interested in building a website for yourself or want an insight into the process, then here we'll look at some fundamental website design principles, the tools you'll need to create a website, and the no-code and low-code options you have for building a website without much coding experience.

So, whether you are a business owner, a blogger, or a web designer, you need to know the basics of website design to have a successful online presence. Let's get stuck in.

Is designing a website easy?

How long is a piece of string? But seriously, like anything in life, how "hard" or "easy" something is, depends entirely on your character, work ethic, the complexity of the task, and the tools you're using. To this end, creating a website can be both simple and challenging.

However, be under no illusion that creating an effective, visitor-hooking website from scratch can be challenging without prior expertise. However, there are lots of user-friendly content management systems and website generators that can make the process much simpler.

If you have some experience with web design, you can make a simple website with just a few pages pretty quickly. However, the difficulty of the design process rises along with the website's complexity. Even for designers with a lot of experience, building a website with advanced features, dynamic content, and custom designs can be challenging.

That all being said, with enough dedication, anyone can learn to create a fantastic website with the proper resources and some practice. So, what essential things do you need?

What tools do you need to build a website?

In most cases, anyone considering building their website will need a few key things to make it happen.

These include, but are not limited to: -

  • A text editor is a software used to create and modify web pages. It is also known as a web development environment. Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, Atom, and Notepad++ are a few of the well-liked text editors for web programming. A text editor, code libraries, and other utilities are all parts of a larger software package called a web development environment, used to make changes without breaking anything in a live environment.
  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the language used to build a web page's structure (think skeleton), along with CSS and JavaScript. Layout, color, and typeface choices are all defined by CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which is used to create a web page's visual appearance. Using JavaScript, a web page can have interactive components like buttons and forms.
  • Web hosting is a service that enables you to keep your web pages on a server so that internet users can access them. There are numerous web hosting companies, including HostGator, SiteGround, and Bluehost.
  • The web address users will use to reach your website is a domain name. A domain name can be purchased from a domain provider like Google Domains, GoDaddy, or Namecheap.
  • Without prior knowledge of HTML or other programming languages, a content management system (CMS) enables you to create, manage, and post content on your website. WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are a few standard CMS systems. A CMS isn't essential, but it is a great way to build a website quickly.

These are the essential resources you'll need to create a website. You might also require extra tools, like graphics or database management software, depending on your particular requirements and the complexity of your website.

What are the most critical web design principles?

There are many key web design concepts that you can use to build a website that is both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. The following are a few of the most crucial guidelines:

  • A website should have a clear purpose and aim, whether it is to inform visitors, offer them products, or amuse them. The layout and substance of the website should make this goal explicit.
  • Visual hierarchy: The design should establish a distinct visual order, giving more prominence to essential elements such as headlines, images, and calls to action than to less crucial ones.
  • Navigation: Thanks to the website's straightforward and intuitive navigation, users should be able to quickly locate the information they want.
  • Consistency: The layout, color scheme, and typography should all be consistent throughout the site.
  • White space: Using white space can help a website appear tidier and well-organized while highlighting key components
  • Accessibility: The website should be created with accessibility in mind so that those with impairments can easily use it.
  • Mobile responsiveness: The website should be created to be responsive or able to change to fit various different screen types, operating systems, and gadgets.
  • Speed of loading: The website should be created to load quickly, as slow loading times can hurt user experience and search engine rankings.
Mastering website design part 1: Learn the basic principles
Building a website can be a challenge, but is not impossible when you know how.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can design a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing website that will keep users interested and help you reach your website's objectives.

What are the seven steps to effective web design?

Effective web design can be done in a variety of ways, but there are seven fundamental stages you should follow to build a successful website:

  • Define the website's objectives and purpose before you start designing it. Before you start, you should know your target audience and what you want the website to accomplish.
  • Conduct research and collect ideas: Look for inspiration and ideas by researching other websites in your industry or niche. Think about what functions well and poorly on those sites, and use this knowledge to influence your design choices.
  • Determine the hierarchy and arrangement of the website's pages, and then plan and organize the framework by creating a sitemap. This will assist you in managing the website's navigation and structure.
  • Create a visual style that aligns with the website's objectives using colors, typography, and imagery to produce a unified look and feel.
  • Create the website: To transform the graphic design into a functional website, use web development tools and coding languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  • Test and improve the website: Test the functionality, usability, and design of the website across a range of platforms and browsers, and collect user input. Utilize this input to enhance and improve the design.
  • Debut and upkeep of the website: As soon as the website is prepared for debut, check that it is search engine optimized and use analytics tools to monitor its effectiveness. Keep the website's design and material current to keep visitors interested.

These tips will help you make a successful website that meets your goals and gets the attention of your target audience.

Does designing a website need a lot of coding?

The intricacy of the website and the tools you're using will determine how much coding is needed to create it. Generally speaking, some coding is required to make a website, but it doesn't have to be much.

Without writing much code, you can create a website using one of the many website builders and content management systems (CMS) that make this process more accessible, like WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. These tools typically offer a drag-and-drop user interface (UI) and pre-designed templates that make it simple to build a website without any coding experience.

But you might need to know how to code to make a more complicated website or one with a unique look. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the main languages for building and developing websites. Understanding these languages can help you build a website that is more tailored to your needs.

In conclusion, coding is necessary when creating a website, but how much coding is required depends on the tools you use and how complex the website is. You don't need to write a lot of code to create a fantastic website if you have the proper tools and some basic coding knowledge.

Are there no- or low-code ways to build a website?

Yes, there are numerous low- or no-code methods for creating websites. Here are a few of the most well-known:

  • Website builders: With the help of these internet resources, you can make a website without knowing how to code. Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly are a few well-liked website makers. These platforms offer drag-and-drop tools and pre-designed templates that make it simple to build a website.
  • Content management systems (CMS): CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla offer an intuitive user interface for controlling the content and appearance of your website. They frequently come with various pre-made plugins and themes that let you modify your website without writing code.

  • Platforms for visual development: Tools like Webflow, Bubble, and Tilda offer a visual user experience for creating and designing websites. You can build intricate webpages with them without writing any code.
  • Website frameworks: These are essentially the same as website builders in that you can build a website without knowing how to write code by using website frameworks like Jekyll, Hugo, and Gatsby. They create your website's HTML, CSS, and JavaScript using themes and markdown files.

You can build a website without writing a lot of code using these no- or low-code tools. To customize your website and solve any potential problems, it's still beneficial to have a working understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Using these "no-code" or "low-code" tools, you can build a website without writing much code.

And that is your lot for today.

A good online presence requires successful website design. By following key principles like purpose and goal, visual hierarchy, navigation, consistency, white space, accessibility, mobile responsiveness, and loading speed, you can make a website that looks good and is easy to use.

In addition, whether you have coding experience, many tools are accessible, making it simpler to design a website. You can create a fantastic website without writing much code using website builders, CMS platforms, visual development platforms, and website generators. You can draw people to your website, keep them interested, and accomplish your online objectives with a well-designed website.

In the next part of this series, we'll briefly guide you on how to build one for real.

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