Website Digital Design Process 2020: Key Elements of Web Design
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Website Digital Design Process 2020: Key Elements of Web Design

The digital design phase is the most important phase of website development because it sets-forth a plan for the coding phase. The website design phase is like working with an architect on the blueprint of your house. The design phase culminates with your approval on a design, which becomes the framework for constructing your website.

Like building a house, it is important to solidify your blueprint before the construction crew begins hammering-in the nails and putting-in the plumbing. So as to provide you with an understanding of what your development team is working on, this article is your guide to everything you need to know about the digital design phase for your website. 

A Complete Guide to the Digital Design Process for Your Website

After your sitemap is approved and your content is compiled, the second phase of your website development process is the digital design phase. Whereas, the sitemap solidifies the pages that appear on your website, and the content which those pages display, the design solidifies how your website’s pages and content are visually expressed. Using the example of building a home, designing the architectural layout comes first – before the construction begins. 

Imagine how much longer the building of your house takes when the construction crew has to build your home – twice. The construction progresses most efficiently when there are no last minute design changes. The same is true for the digital design and infrastructure of your website.

The construction phase of your house is equivalent to the coding phase of your website – the third phase. Ultimately, the design serves as the website’s blueprint, which the development team uses to code your website’s digital infrastructure. Like building a house – once the website goes into the coding phase, altering the design can cause significant delays.

What is Important in the Digital Design Phase? 

In the second phase of the website development process, you will receive a design proof. The proof is usually delivered in .pdf format and includes examples of each unique page on the sitemap. Once you have the design proof in-hand, it is your job to respond with an approval or list of revisions. 

Don’t Worry About Specific Content Appearing in the Design Proof

The design proof is a simple rendering of how the finished website will appear to frontend users. It is not, however, an interactive prototype –  you can’t click the menu buttons – it is only an image. Furthermore, it helps to know what you don’t have to worry about when viewing your design proof. 

Some elements of the website will not be expressed in the design proof, such as text content. Text fields on your website are like pictures on the wall of your new home – they are easily changed. So, designers use a gibberish text, called Lorem Ipsum, to visually show you where your specific content will eventually go. 

In the same vain, it is common for designers to utilize stock photography, in place of your supplied photography. Content, such as images and words, are not important in the design phase. In the design phase, thinking about the visual aesthetic and physical layout is the top priority.

1. Visual Hierarchy of the Design

Shop owners showcase their best inventory in the store windows with the intention of grabbing the attention of passers-by. The same logic holds true in website design. Therefore, website designers often implement a visual hierarchy that draws the viewer’s attention to information in order of priority. 

People read a webpage in a similar fashion to how they read a book. By tracking the eye movements of sample groups, studies show that a user’s visual gaze progresses down the page in an “F” shape. 

Upon arrival on any web page, the average user’s focus is initially drawn to the top-left and moves horizontally to the right. Then, the user scans back to the left and down to the center of the page, and again scans horizontally to the right. The user, then, scrolls to the bottom of the page, keeping their eyes to the left-hand-side of the screen. 

Knowing this helps you to understand the purpose of your digital design. Does the visual hierarchy of your website’s design make it easy for users to find the most important information, first?

2. Purpose and Communication

Nobody knows your business, better than you. So, when your website designer sends you a proof, it is up to you to provide key insights on what your user-base is looking for when they come to your website. The most efficacious design for your website depends as much on its functionality as its visual aesthetic. 

If, for example, your website is a new search engine to compete with Google, the most prominent thing on the homepage might be a search-bar tool, instead of text. If, however, your website is for a law firm, the most prominent thing on the homepage might be contact information, instead of a search bar. 

But, a public defender’s office spends most of its time providing a wide range of clients legal resources. So, the most important feature on the homepage might very well be a search function. So, the visual hierarchy of the page design guides a user’s attention, which can, either, help or hinder your website’s purpose. 

During the planning phase of the website development process, you make a choice for your websites “Call to Action” or CTA. The CTA connects the value of your website to the purpose of a user. So, your website’s design should succeed in communicating value to your users, funneling them to your CTA.

3. Branding Standards, Typeface, and Color Scheme

Your website is the homebase for your businesses online presence, which means it carries the same branding standards as the rest of your business. When someone visits your website, the goal is to leave the visitor with a clear image of your brand. Check your design proof to make sure your brand standards are clearly conveyed on each page. 

Among the brand standards that contribute to the clarity of your businesses online image and messaging is the font and color scheme of your website. One of the most important things to solidify in the design phase of your website is the websites brand standards, typeface, and color scheme, because every page of the website reflects these choices. 

The font of your website’s text is important to conveying an overall aesthetic. You might not think about it, but typeface is hugely influential to a user’s visual engagement. In general, users engage more with easy-to-read typefaces, like Arial or Verdana.

In addition, to the brand standards and font choices, color pallet greatly influences the readability and visual hierarchy of your website. You want color to assist in guiding the users attention to the most important information on the page. Likewise, the absence of color is crucial in keeping a user’s attention and providing a contemporary aesthetic. 

The color pallet chosen by your web designer compliments and parallels your business’s brand. How does the color pallet help to convey your business’s message? Think about if you want to try a black background, instead of a white background. A vibrant, bright color scheme is a good tool for making important information stand-out to make sure your visitors can find what they’re looking for.

Approve Your Websites Digital Design

The web design phase is where your development team and you confer on how best to convey your brand messaging, and how it will visually appeal to users. Think about what you want to see in the digital website design by keeping a list of other websites that you like. 

After you receive your digital design proof, communicate with your website development team on any revisions. Or, give your web designer the big ‘thumbs-up’ to start the coding phase of your web development process.