Web design is a broad term covering many different skills and disciplines that are used in the production and maintenance of websites. The different areas of web design include; web graphic design, interface design, authoring; including standardized code and proprietary software, user experience design and search engine optimization. The term web design is normally used to describe the design process relating to the front-end design of a website including writing mark up, but this is a grey area as this is also covered by web development. Web designers are expected to have an awareness of usability and if their role involves creating mark up then they are also expected to be up to date with web accessibility guidelines.
Web designers use a variety of different tools depending on what part of the production process they are involved in. These tools are updated over time by newer standards and software but the principles behind them remain the same. Web graphic designers use vector and raster graphics packages for creating web formatted imagery or design prototypes. Technologies used for creating websites include standardized mark up which could be hand coded or generated by WYSIWYG editing software. There is also proprietary software based on plug-ins that bypasses the client’s browsers version, these are often WYSIWYG but with the option of using the software’s scripting language. Search engine optimization tools may be used to check search engine ranking and suggest improvements.
Web pages should be well laid out to improve navigation for the user. Also for navigation purposes, the sites page layout should also remain consistent on different pages. When constructing sites, it’s important to consider page width as this is vital for aligning objects and in layout design. The most popular websites generally have a width close to 1024 pixels. Most pages are also centre aligned, to make objects look more aesthetically pleasing on larger screens.
When creating a site it is good practice to conform to standards. This includes errors in code, better layout for code as well as making sure your IDs and classes are identified properly. This is usually done via a description specifying what the element is doing. Not conforming to standards may not make a website unusable or error prone, standards can relate to the correct layout of pages for readability as well making sure coded elements are closed appropriately.