[DISCUSSION] What is web design?

Discussion in 'Fan Sites' started by Brandon Rhea, Nov 26, 2008.

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  1. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    I was surfing the web looking for some ideas on potential website discussions, and I found a pretty good sample of what seems to be a well crafted resource guide for web design in a book called Web Design - The Complete Reference. One thing in the first chapter that it gives stood out to be, and that is how it is hard to discuss web designs without them getting off track. Why is that? According to this book, it?s because what people mean by the expression ?web design?. I?ll now directly quote here so I don?t have to keep paraphrasing. :p

    While everyone has some sense of what Web design is, few seem able to define it exactly. Certain components, such as graphic design or programming, are a part of any discussion, but their importance in the construction of sites varies from person to person and from site to site. Some consider the creation and organization of content?or, more formally, the information architecture?as the most important aspect of Web design. Other factors?ease of use, the value and function of the site within an organization's overall operations, and site delivery, among many others?remain firmly within the realm of Web design. With influences from library science, graphic design, programming, networking, user interface design, usability, and a variety of other sources, Web design is truly a multidisciplinary field. - Web Design - The Complete Reference, Chapter 1

    So basically, this discussion rests on a single question that I think could take awhile to answer, which is good for a forum that needs a kick in the rear end! That question is simple in nature but more complex when you think about: what is web design? To add to that, what are the components of it? What are the most important components of it? If you don?t agree with anything that was said before, why not?

    Personally, while a design can make or break a site, I think a good design is only half the battle. I?ve seen some great looking websites out there that were awful in terms of being user-friendly. Searching and functionality should be extremely simple, and if it means toning down your great design a bit then so be it. Your viewers may be impressed initially by your gift at designing, but they?ll be turned off and away very fast if they can?t easily search your website.

    Also, for anyone who's interested, click here for the link to the book.
  2. Trika_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 1999
    star 6
    Web design is most accurately summarized by the term "multidisciplinary field." Artists good at drawing may not necessarily be good at drawing a user-friendly menu bar, and a Flash and ActionScript expert may have to rely on an artist to come up with any sort of appealing design. The idea behind it all is the user, though. Web designers provide a method of getting information to visitors, no matter the type or format. While it could be strictly entertainment-based or important educational material, the idea is getting the information across in as pleasant a method as possible.

    Something to chew on... not sure what book this came from, but keeping with the idea of being user friendly, all designers should understand that in the fast-paced world of digital media, a visitor to a website determines if he will stay on that site within the very first second he sees it. If he cannot find what he's looking for or is not captured by the design, he'll go somewhere else. As for getting the information, it's a general rule that if a user cannot find the information they want within three clicks of the mouse, he will also leave and find it elsewhere. It's just the nature of the Internet and the attention spans of the modern Internet surfer.
  3. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    Yeah, agreed. Ease of use is a definite must. It goes back to what I've said about how even though elaborate designs are nice, they can end up sacrificing the ease of navigation and use.
  4. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    Nice thread, and a tough question. I guess I never really thought about what web design actually is. I am going to agree with what you guys have said: being user friendly is really important. Like Trika said:

    I have definitely heard that more than once in some tutorials I have taken. I think this takes into account one major thing: the site layout and design, which is probably the second most important aspect. If a website is not very appealing, one will not stay, it's that simple. So, in order to attract visitors, a web designer must create a visually appealing style and layout. However, that's not all it takes. The style needs to be unique. For example, I believe one should stay away from templates (that is, pre-made designs). The fact is, if you think that a particular design is cool, at least one other person will too. And now, your site is no longer unique. Although, creating a good layout is VERY challenging! (I know this from personal experience)

    Also, I think the definition of web design is different for the different types of sites out there. For example, a fan fiction website is going to be very different from a news site. Each will incorporate different "technology", or programming. And that programming has to follow the rules we already mentioned: user-friendliness and uniqueness.

    Anyway, that's my view on what web design is.
  5. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 9
    I was going to take a Web Design class next year at my high school, so now I can't really answer this question.

    Web design, to me, if the creation of an Internet site through the use of software that allow a person to express all kinds of thoughts by manipulating styles for sites and themes to create successful Internet sites.
  6. Destined_Jedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2002
    star 2
    I think that structuring a website in a logical and fast-loading (when possible) way and search engine optimizing the content are things that are as important or more important than the visual appeal of a website.
  7. Artoo-Dion Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2009
    star 4
    IMHO, it really is the union of all disciplines needed and/or desirable in building a site.

    This may or may not include:

    HTML and/or client or server-side scripting
    Java applet programming, Flash, etc.
    Database design
    Graphic design with Photoshop, etc.
    Internal structure of site

    That's off the top of my head.

    I'm currently completing a BCompSc with a major in Web and Networks, FWIW, and even I've got only the vaguest idea of what "web design" is.
  8. MasterLee Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2009
    Hey, this is a perfect thread to jump into. I've worked with a company and have helped design and implement websites for more than 10 years. We always talk about "form" and "fashion". Form, meaning the flow and architecture of the site. And fashion being the design. You have to find a good balance between the two so that it affects your visitors properly, achieves your goals, and is easy to use. And then after that, you need good content to put into the site.
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