Web design is the design of web pages, websites and web applications using HTML, CSS, images, and other media. Web design is in contrast with web
development, which includes web server configuration, writing web applications and server security.
2 Website design
2.1 Multidisciplinary requirements
3.1 Lack of collaboration in design
3.2 Liquid versus fixed layouts
3.4 CSS versus tables
3.5 How it Looks vs. How it Works
4 Accessible Web design
5 Dynamic web design
6 Website Planning
6.4 Compatibility and restrictions
8 See also
9 External links
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, published a website in August 1991, making him also the first web designer. His first was to use hypertext with an existing email link.
Early on, websites were written in basic HTML, a markup language giving websites basic structure (headings and paragraphs), and the ability to link using hypertext. This was new and different to existing forms of communication - users could easily open other pages using browsers.
As the Web and web design progressed, the markup language used to make it, known as Hypertext Mark-up Language or HTML, became more complex and flexible. Features like tables, which could be used to display tabular information, were soon subverted for use as invisible layout devices. With the advent of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), table based layout is increasingly regarded as outdated. Database integration technologies such as server-side scripting (see CGI, PHP, ASP.NET, ASP, JSP, and ColdFusion) and design standards like CSS further changed and enhanced the way the Web is made.
The introduction of Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash) into an already interactivity-ready scene has further changed the face of the Web, giving new power to designers and media creators, and offering new interactivity features to users, often at the expense of partial search engine visibility and browser functions available to HTML.
- Website design
A website is a collection of information about a particular topic or subject. Designing a website is defined as the arrangement and creation of web pages that in turn make up a website. A web page consists of information for which the website is developed. For example, a website might be compared to a book, where each page of the book is a web page.
There are many aspects (design concerns) in this process, and due to the rapid development of the Internet, new aspects may emerge. For typical commercial web sites, the basic aspects are:
The content, substance and informational value of the site, from its target public's point of view;
The usability of the site, navigation scheme, intuitive interface, compatibility and reliability of dynamic functions;
The appearance, what's communicated by the styles, aesthetics, and professional appearance of the pages;
The visibility of the site on the Internet, particularly within the major search engines, effected by compatibility with those search engines and all of the above.
A website typically consists of text and images. The first page of a website is known as the Home page or Index. Some websites use what is commonly called a Splash Page. Splash pages might include a welcome message, language/region selection, or disclaimer. Each web page within a website is an HTML file which has its own URL. After each web page is created, they are typically linked together using a navigation menu composed of hyperlinks.
Once a website is completed, it must be published or uploaded in order to be viewable to the public over the internet. This is done using an FTP client. Once published, the webmaster may use a variety of techniques to increase the traffic, or hits, that the website receives. This may include submitting the website to a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, exchanging links with other websites, creating affiliations with similar websites, etc.
A relatively new technique for creating websites called Remote Scripting has allowed more dynamic use of the web without the use of Flash or other specialized plug-ins. Leading the various techniques is Ajax, although other methods are still common, as Ajax is not a fully developed standard.
- Multidisciplinary requirements
Website design crosses multiple disciplines of information systems, information technology and communication design. The website is an information system whose components are sometimes classified as front-end and back-end. The observable content (e.g page layout, user interface, graphics, text, audio) is known as the front-end. The back-end comprises the organization and efficiency of the source code, invisible scripted functions, and the server-side components that process the output from the front-end. Depending on the size of a Web development project, it may be carried out by a multi-skilled individual (sometimes called a web master), or a project manager may oversee collaborative design between group members with specialized skills.
As in most collaborative designs, there are conflicts between differing goals and methods of web site designs. These are a few of the ongoing ones.
- Lack of collaboration in design
In the early stages of the web, there wasn't as much collaboration between web designs and larger advertising campaigns, customer transactions, social networking, intranets and extranets as there is now. Web pages were mainly static online brochures disconnected from the larger projects.
Many web pages are still disconnected from larger projects. Special design considerations are necessary for use within these larger projects. These design considerations are often overlooked, especially in cases where there is a lack of leadership, understanding or concern for the larger project to facilitate collaboration. This often results in unhealthy competition or compromise between departments, and less than optimal use of web pages.
- Liquid versus fixed layouts
Programmers were the original web page designers in the early 1990s. Currently most web designers come from a graphic artist background in print, where the artist has absolute control over the size and dimensions of all aspects of the design. Many of these web designers have knowledge in Adobe Flash, Photoshop and Illustrator. On the web however, the Web designer has no control over several factors, including the size of the browser window and the size and characteristics of available fonts.
Many designers compensate for this by wrapping their entire webpage in a fixed width box, essentially limiting it to an exact pixel-perfect value, which is a fixed layout. Some create the illusion of liquidity by building the graphics for their webpage at a size larger than any current standard monitor size. Other designers say that this is bad because it ignores the preferences of the user, who might have their browser sized a specific way that they like best. These people propose a liquid layout, where the size of the Web page adjusts itself based on the size of the browser window. Many prefer to set a standard browser size like 1024x728 and say on the web page that the website should be viewed with the said browser setting.
In some cases, it is difficult to create fixed layouts which work well given the amount of content needed, and the fact that one has to try to cater for the needs of all prospective users.
Similar to liquid layout is the optional fit to window feature with Adobe Flash content. This is a fixed layout that optimally scales the contents of the page without changing the arrangement or text wrapping when the browser is resized.
Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) is a proprietary, robust graphics animation/application development program used to create and deliver dynamic content, media (such as sound and video), and interactive applications over the web via the browser.
Flash is not a standard produced by a vendor-neutral standards organization like most of the core protocols and formats on the Internet. Flash is much more restrictive than the open HTML format, though, requiring a proprietary plugin to be seen, and it does not integrate with most web browser UI features like the "Back" button unless a hyperlink is programmed to link a new html page from the Flash file, in which case the animation of the previous page would reset. However, those restrictions may be irrelevant depending on the goals of the web site design.
According to NPD study, 98% of US Web users have the Flash Player installed, with 45%-56% (depending on region) having the latest version. Numbers vary depending on the detection scheme and research demographics.
Many graphic artists use Flash because it gives them exact control over every part of the design, and anything can be animated and generally "jazzed up". Some application designers enjoy flash because it lets them create applications that don't have to be refreshed or go to a new web page every time an action occurs. Flash can use embedded fonts instead of the standard fonts installed on most computers. There are many sites which forego HTML entirely for Flash. Other sites may use Flash content combined with HTML as conservatively as gifs or jpegs would be used, but with smaller vector file sizes and the option of faster loading animations. Flash may also be used to protect content from unauthorized duplication or searching.
Flash detractors claim that Flash websites tend to be poorly designed, and often use confusing and non-standard user-interfaces. Up until recently, search engines have been unable to index Flash objects, which has prevented sites from having their contents easily found. This is because many search engine crawlers rely on text to index websites. It is possible to specify alternate content to be displayed for browsers that do not support Flash. Using alternate content also helps search engines to understand the page, and can result in much better visibility for the page. However, the vast majority of Flash websites are not disability accessible (for screen readers, for example) or Section 508 compliant.
- CSS versus tables
Back when Netscape Navigator 4 dominated the browser market, the popular solution available for designers to lay out a Web page was by using tables. Often even simple designs for a page would require dozens of tables nested in each other. Many web templates in Dreamweaver and other WYSIWYG editors still use this technique today. Navigator 4 didn't support CSS to a useful degree, so it simply wasn't used.
After the browser wars were over, and Internet Explorer dominated the market, designers started turning towards CSS as an alternate, better means of laying out their pages. CSS proponents say that tables should only be used for tabular data, not for layout. Using CSS instead of tables also returns HTML to a semantic markup, which helps bots and search engines understand what's going on in a web page. Today, all modern Web browsers now support CSS with different degrees of limitations.
However, one of the main points against CSS is that by relying on it exclusively, control is essentially relinquished as each browser has its own quirks which result in a slightly different page display. This is especially a problem as not every browser supports the same subset of CSS rules. For designers who are used to table-based layouts, developing Web sites in CSS often becomes a matter of trying to replicate what can be done with tables, leading some to find CSS design rather cumbersome due to lack of familiarity. For example, at one time it was rather difficult to produce certain design elements, such as vertical positioning, and full-length footers in a design using absolute positions. With the abundance of CSS resources available online today, though, designing with reasonable adherence to standards involves little more than applying CSS 2.1 or CSS 3 to properly structured markup.
These days most modern browsers have solved most of these quirks in CSS rendering and this has made many different CSS layouts possible. However, some people continue to use old browsers, and designers need to keep this in mind, and allow for graceful degrading of pages in older browsers. Most notable among these old browsers are Internet Explorer 5 and 5.5, which, according to some web designers, are becoming the new Netscape Navigator 4 — a block that holds the World Wide Web back from converting to CSS design.
- How it Looks vs. How it Works
Since so many web developers have a graphic arts background, some may pay more attention to how a page looks, without considering how visitors are going to find the page via a search engine. Some may rely more on advertising than search engines to attract visitors to the site. On the other side of the issue, search engine optimization consultants (SEOs) obsess about how well a web site works technically and textually: how much traffic it generates via search engines, and how many sales it makes, assuming looks don't contribute to the sales. As a result, the designers and SEOs often end up in disputes where the designer wants more 'pretty' graphics, and the SEO wants lots of 'ugly' keyword-rich text, bullet lists, and text links. One could argue that this is a false dichotomy due to the possibility that a web design may integrate the two disciplines for a collaborative and synergistic solution. Because some graphics serve communication purposes in addition to aesthetics, how well a site works may depend on the graphic designer's visual communication ideas as well as the SEO considerations.
Another problem when using lots of graphics on a page is that download times can be greatly lengthened, often irritating the user. This has become less of a problem as the internet has evolved with high-speed internet and the use of vector graphics. This is an engineering challenge to increase bandwidth in addition to an artistic challenge to minimize graphics and graphic file sizes. This is an on-going challenge as increased bandwidth invites increased amounts of content.
- Accessible Web design
Accessible Web design is the art of creating webpages that are accessible to everyone, using any device. It is especially important so that people with disabilities - whether due to accident, disease or old age - can access the information in Web pages and be able to navigate through the website.
To be accessible, web pages and sites must conform to certain accessibility principles. These can be grouped into the following main areas:
use semantic markup that provides a meaningful structure to the document (i.e. Web page)
use a valid markup language that conforms to a published DTD or Schema
provide text equivalents for any non-text components (e.g. images, multimedia)
use hyperlinks that makes sense when read out of context. (e.g. avoid "Click Here.")
don't use frames
use CSS rather than HTML Tables for layout.
author the page so that when the source code is read line-by-line by user agents (such as a screen readers) it remains intelligible. (Using tables for design will often result in information that is not.)
However, W3C permits an exception where tables for layout either make sense when linearized or an alternate version (perhaps linearized) is made available.
- Dynamic web design
The traditional method of laying out web pages, HTML, is static. There are two ways of delivering content dynamically:
A web server, running special software, constructs an HTML page 'on the fly', according to the user's request and possibly other variables, such as time or stock levels.
Suitable scripting languages include:
XSLT can be used to translate data from XML format into HTML.
MySQL and PostgreSQL are popular free SQL databases, suitable for use with the above. They can be used to allow users, subject to password access if required, to update content.
Client side DHTML can pose major problems for Web accessibility and search engine optimization. Most software designed for assisting people with disabilities, and most search engine robots do not support client side DHTML.
- Website Planning
Before creating and uploading a website, it is important to take the time to plan exactly what is needed in the website. Thoroughly considering the audience or target market, as well as defining the purpose and deciding the content will be developed are extremely important.
It is essential to define the purpose of the website as one of the first steps in the planning process. A purpose statement should show focus based on what the website will accomplish and what the users will get from it. A clearly defined purpose will help the rest of the planning process as the audience is identified and the content of the site is developed. Setting short and long term goals for the website will help make clear the purpose and plan for the future when expansion, modification, and improvement will take place. Also, goal-setting practices and measurable objectives should be identified to track the progress of the site and determine success.
Defining the audience is a key step in the website planning process. The audience is the group of people who are expected to visit your website – the market being targeted. These people will be viewing the website for a specific reason and it is important to know exactly what they are looking for when they visit the site. A clearly defined purpose or goal of the site as well as an understanding of what visitors want to do/feel when they come to your site will help to identify the target audience. Upon considering who is most likely to need/use the content, a list of characteristics common to the users such as:
Taking into account the characteristics of the audience will allow an effective website to be created that will deliver the desired content to the target audience.
Content evaluation and organization requires that the purpose of the website be clearly defined. Collecting a list of the necessary content then organizing it according to the audience's needs is a key step in website planning. In the process of gathering the content being offered, any items that do not support the defined purpose or accomplish target audience objectives should be removed. It is a good idea to test the content and purpose on a focus group and compare the offerings to the audience needs. The next step is to organize the basic information structure by categorizing the content and organizing it according to user needs. Each category should be named with a concise and descriptive title that will become a link on the website. Planning for the site's content ensures that the wants/needs of the target audience and the purpose of the site will be fulfilled.
- Compatibility and restrictions
Because of the market share of modern browsers (depending on your target market), the compatibility of your website with the viewers is restricted. For instance, a website that is designed for the majority of websurfers will be limited to the use of valid XHTML 1.0 Strict or older, Cascading Style Sheets Level 1, and 1024x768 display resolution. This is because Internet Explorer is not fully W3C standards compliant with the modularity of XHTML 1.1 and the majority of CSS beyond 1. A target market of more alternative browser (e.g. Firefox and Opera) users allow for more W3C compliance and thus a greater range of options for a web designer.
Another restriction on webpage design is the use of different Image file formats. The majority of users can support GIF, JPEG, and PNG (with restrictions). Again Internet Explorer is the major restriction here, not fully supporting PNG's advanced transparency features, resulting in the GIF format still being the most widely used graphic file format for transparent images.
Many website incompatibilities go unnoticed by the designer and unreported by the users. The only way to be certain a website will work on a particular platform is to test it on that platform.
Storyboarding is the process of taking into account the purpose, audience and content to design the site structure that is most suitable for the website. In this process the organized and categorized content is used to develop a diagram or map. This creates a visual of how the web pages will be laid out and interconnected which helps decide how the content is portrayed. There are three main ways of diagramming the website organization:
Linear Website Diagrams will allow the users to move in a predetermined sequence;
Hierarchical structures (of Tree Design Website Diagrams) provide more than one path for users to take to their destination;
Branch Design Website Diagrams allow for many interconnections between web pages.
In the process of storyboarding a record is made of the description, purpose and title of each page in the site and they are linked together according to the most effective and logical diagram type. Depending on the number of pages the website will include, methods include using pieces of paper and drawing lines to connect them or alternatively, creating the storyboard using computer software. Storyboarding can be considered like a creating a prototype for the website – a model which allows the website layout to be reviewed, resulting in suggested changes, improvements and/or enhancements. This review process increases the likelihood of success of the website. Some people refer to this as a "tree" because it branches from the main page.
Source : www.wikipedia.org