Website Design

The Best Design Classes, Certificates and Bootcamps in NYC

The Best Design Classes, Certificates and Bootcamps in NYC

Design and prototyping applications

In days past, the primary tools that interface designers used was a hand layout building tool (which was often as basic as a sheet of paper, scissors, various cut-outs representing assets and glue). When digital tools became available, this work was migrated to platforms like Adobe InDesign. In recent years, however, most web design projects are undertaken on dedicated design and prototyping apps, like Figma. Knowing how to utilize these applications, particularly in a collaborative context, is vital if you plan to find work in web design. What makes these applications unique is that they are tailored to the needs of designers working in a digital space. Figma, for example, is a browser based application, allowing users to not only collaborate with one another from anywhere, but also allowing users to view browser-based designs in a web browser.

These applications also provide designers with the ability to test and iterate on their designs though proto-typing features. This allows users to create working, practical models of their designs and interfaces so that real world users can use the interface and provide feedback on it. This is an essential part of the design process, since while it is one thing to consider whether or not a design looks good, it is another issue entirely to make sure that it feels good for users to engage with. Modern prototyping applications also greatly improve the speed at which designers can iterate on designs, conduct A/B testing and respond to user feedback. This streamlining of the design process is part of the reason that interface and web design philosophies change so quickly.

Front end web development

While not a required skill, it benefits Web Designers to have an understanding of the technical aspects of building a working web application. Learning how to work with HTML/CSS and JavaScript will likely help students of web design better understand the limitations of traditional web design practices and the required infrastructure that they need to ensure that their design either includes or does not obstruct. This will make designers and developers work better in tandem and it will ensure that projects suffer fewer hiccups as they move from design to development phases.

In addition, if you hope to work in web design as a freelancer, it is very likely that you’ll need to know how to code websites as well as design them. Only being able to do part of the work as a freelancer will put you at a significant disadvantage relative to your competitors, so knowing how to launch a website will be as important as knowing how to design them. This will also help make your application more competitive if you are applying for jobs at smaller firms or institutions that may require you to work as both a developer and a designer in some capacity. While you likely won’t need as much training as someone looking to become a professional Web Developer, learning these skills can open up a number of new career paths.

WordPress

WordPress is the most commonly utilized content management system in the world, with over 40% of all commercial websites using some amount of WordPress infrastructure. This makes learning how to use the platform a great way to shortcut design (and development) tasks, particularly the mundane ones that would normally consume time but not be particularly creative. Streamlining the design and development process will make designing complex websites easier than ever and WordPress offers a wide range of different plug-ins and templates, including tools to create digital storefronts.

If you become sufficiently skilled with WordPress (and with some rudimentary HTML/CSS and JavaScript), you can even begin making your own templates and plug-ins to add further functionality to your designs. This will be particularly useful for anyone looking to work as a freelance designer, since it will streamline the workflow and it will give potential clients a much better idea of the kind of website that you will produce when you are hired. It doesn’t take much time or energy to become relatively proficient working with WordPress and because the platform is so ubiquitous, this knowledge will be applicable in a wide range of professional and personal contexts.

Design principles

In order to succeed at web design, you’ll need to understand a number of important graphic design concepts. Even though websites are more “practical” in their application than many graphic design projects, they are still attempting to communicate ideas to an audience and persuade them to a specific course of action. This means that learning the basics of design principles, including things like color theory, composition theory and visual rhetorics is an important part of becoming a successful Web Designer. In most web design training programs, you’ll learn the fundamentals of visual design and the common application of these principles to designing in a digital space.

Learning design principles can also be useful for anyone looking to create websites that are themselves visual design projects. Not every website you create is going to be a storefront or a product announcement and creatives may find that the expansive digital canvas is an ideal place to create new and interesting works of art. Learning design principles as part of a broader web design education will help creatives expand their toolkit and become more adept at using platforms as visual tools.

User interface design

One of the most common aspects of web design is user interface design, the process by which a designer plans, prototypes and creates the look of an application that a user interacts with. This can include everything from the shape and color of the buttons to the layout of the interactive elements to the pace of scrolling images in a slideshow. Learning these design principles is important because users need to be able to understand and intuit the visual signals that a website is trying to communicate. For example, on Google Docs, the button to print a document utilizes a visual representation of a printer to clearly communicate the function of the button. This kind of visual language is a standard part of user interface design, so much so that many of these designs endure as self-sustaining iconography (floppy disks haven’t been utilized in decades, but an image of one remains the near universal icon for ‘save’). Knowing how to utilize certain shorthands and visual design techniques is important to creating easy to utilize and effective web applications. 

In addition to making sure that your web designs communicate important information (obviously, you want users to know what button to press to take them to your webstore), you’ll also need to learn design principles that help you create certain emotions and affects in viewers, since you want to communicate how users should see your web presences as much as how they should use it. The website for a small Italian bistro opening downtown will want to look different than the website announcing the launch of a new tech product which will want to look different from a tractor supply company website. Knowing how to make these different kinds of designs will be important, especially if you are working as a freelance designer or working as part of a design studio.

User experience design

Unlike most graphic design projects, which are almost always static and primarily function as graphic design pieces, they are also tools that users need to interact with, so if they are too confusing or difficult to utilize, users are likely to move away from the website and find what they are looking for in a more convenient place. There is a reason that so many of the largest and most successful websites prioritize user-friendly design as an important aspect of their success. User experience design is the process of building websites that account for how real life users will interact with that website, since designers can never really be sure how users will engage with their designs. This means that web interfaces must be rigorously tested in real world situations in order to avoid design pitfalls or unexpected QA issues that arise when a website has been launched.

In addition, as more and more of the basic functions of our everyday life are migrated online, even things as fundamental as paying bills, applying for jobs or scheduling doctor’s appointments are done digitally, which means that the web applications used to facilitate those activities need to be designed such that anyone can use them. Making the internet more accessible for users, particularly older users and those with physical disabilities is an important job and it is the responsibility of UX Designers to frequently iterate upon designs and create the best practices used to create accessible web pages.

User experience design is a less tech-focused skill set and it is less concerned with visual design as opposed to accessibility. This means that UX Designer will primarily be concerned with testing the practical functionality of a web design, whether that be in focus groups, surveys, QA tests and A/B tests. UX Designers need to have a firm understanding of data analysis principles and the ability to gauge and sort through quantitative and qualitative feedback that they receive from testers.

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