The Digital Age is here and not going anywhere anytime soon, if ever. As such, every business must have a presence on the internet. A company without a website would be like a shopkeeper trying to run a business without a storefront a hundred years ago. It borders on the absurd to even think about. In fact, so important is a home on the web that a simple website will often not do. Many need blogs, social media, forums, comment sections, etc. just to compete. While this may not describe your current needs, a website definitely does if you have a business. Keep reading for a simple introduction to all that goes into web design.
Every website needs to be hosted. It’s helpful to think of web hosting with an analogy. If a website is an apartment, the web hosting company is the owner of the building. They pay for the property taxes, handle most of the maintenance, provide agreed-upon services and, in exchange, you pay them rent for your home. Web hosting works the same way. A company essentially pays for real-estate on the World Wide Web and you pay them for a spot on their server.
A server is basically a hard drive capable of containing all the information that makes up your website. Usually, you pay for a spot on that server which is shared by numerous other websites (again, just like a tenant in an apartment building). Depending on what you need, hosting can be very cheap.
Once you have a host, you can actually build a website. Technically, you can begin the process of building one without a host, but when you want to release it to the world, that hosting company will come first.
Every website needs graphics to keep the reader’s attention. Without graphics, your website will read, and look, like a book. However, that doesn’t mean you should overload your page either. You want to use photos sparingly and where they are appropriate. If you have a great photo from your vacation, it has no place in your blog about home improvement. Also, you’ll want to keep an eye on the size of the photos. A huge, color photo of something relevant might look great on your webpage, but that can also make it very slow. Web surfing is supposed to be quick, fun and easy. When your page takes forever to loan, you can expect to lose visitors.
Layout refers to the actual organization of your webpages—where everything goes. While this certainly deserves some thought, there are also plenty of templates out there you can use, many for free. While this might rub your creative gene the wrong way, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. In fact, there may be some harm in it. There are only so many options with web layout; I think it’s safe to assume the best have been discovered by now.
While it’s important to load up on content and graphics, be sure you leave enough white space on each page to make the content easily negotiable by the eye. Cram everything in there and people will lose interest trying to make sense of your dense mess.
Your website needs copy and the temptation, much like before, can be to search the millions available to find the right one, or handful, that you feel is best. Again, the problem is you’re reinventing the wheel. Billions of webpages have been created for decades, it’s unlikely you’re going to find the best fonts everyone else missed. It’s also possible people will find them jarring because they’ve become use to a certain pair.
This pair, the one most would recommend, is Sans-Serif and Serif. Use the latter for headlines and employ the former for text.
There are plenty of other options for adding to your website. Advertisements, for example, might have a home on your page. If so, and if you have control over their placement, remember the white space from earlier. You don’t want to overwhelm your visitors. You could limit access to your website with a sign-in page. Utilizing social media is a necessity these days as well.
Remember the blogs, social media, forums, comment sections from earlier? Those and the above components can all be goals to aim for. When you first begin in web design, take the above a day at a time. Even if you plan on hiring someone else to handle it for you, be sure to review the above so you’ll be on the same page.
Websites aren’t easy to build, but they’re far from impossible. Above are the basics that go into one. As I mentioned, there is plenty more you can add to a website these days, but it’s always best to start from square one.