Are you researching website design services? Before you begin it makes a lot of sense to find out which of the different website design services are relevant to the project you’ve got in mind, which will help you cut the initial research part of things down to a more manageable size. Do you need web design or CMS design services? Are responsive web design services top of your list? Or are ecommerce design services more like it? Maybe it’s a matter for e-learning design services.
As a highly experienced B2B and B2C website design agency, we offer them all. Read on to find out about the various different types of web design. By the end of this article you’ll have a clear picture about the best approach for your business.
A web designer can be involved in video, animation and interaction design, all of which comes with its own coding and other requirements. Web design involves creating ecommerce sites people love to buy from, and designing online learning sites where people get the knowledge, support and qualifications they need to succeed.
Some examples? Asos sells fashion for people of every age, shape, size and taste. Their site delivers an optimum search, fast checkout and quick delivery plus a host of user friendly ways for the brand to drive more sales, up-selling and cross selling, for example the ‘people who liked this also looked at that’ function, discounts for new and current customers, and a ‘style feed’ section for outfit ideas, editor picks and more. The site obviously took considerable expertise to design.
The same goes for the BBC website, entirely different animal but equally high-performing with both TV and radio programming and education in mind. It’s laid out so people can easily find what they want and the tone and design strongly suggest an establishment users can trust. Because you have to register and sign in to get the best out of the site, it feels even more trustworthy.
So what are the key principles of website design in general? There’s a long list including the 10 UX laws created by the product designer at General Motors, Jon Yablonski. They’re very helpful in putting the user first at every stage, exactly the way it should be, and they make an excellent starting point for every project.
There’s a great deal more to think about when designing a website, whatever the purpose. Too much choice at the wrong time is never a good idea because it paralyses people. At the same time offering limited payment options can put some people off. It’s always best to keep things simple. It’s wise to place related elements of the design in the same place so people can intuit where to find them. Similarly, you need to make sure the site works the same way other popular sites do, as users would expect, otherwise you just annoy them. Call your About page ‘meet us’, for example, and you go against the flow for no good reason as well as baffling Google’s search algorithm. The best designers keep the site structure flat and prioritise content so the most important user information is presented first.
Talented designers break content up into bite-sized pieces and express it in a logical order. The colour contrast needs to be good and strong, and you always need to take users with different abilities into account to stay within the laws around accessibility. It’s good to warn users if they’re about to navigate away from something potentially important by accident, and provide other timely warnings as well as clear ways to navigate back where they came from.
If a piece of information is vital, the best web designers make sure it stays visible throughout the user journey. The site should be easy to use whatever the user’s level of experience. The text needs to be easily readable. And website designs must be aesthetically pleasing, as well as reflecting and supporting the business’s brand.
We mentioned Google. Every web design, for every purpose, has to be designed with Google in mind. The layout and style of the text, the descriptions of the images, image quality and size, page naming protocols and urls, site architecture, page load speeds and much more, they all have an impact on how well – or not – a business will fare in the search results. This level of intel is fed into the design process at an early stage so the designer can take Google’s algorithmic needs into account throughout the design process. The most experienced web designers tend to have a decent appreciation of on-page and on-site SEO.
Are there any negatives around website design? Not really. The more knowledgeable and experienced the designer, the better the results will be and the more your visitors and customers will enjoy and appreciate the experience. And that means more sales!
Next, let’s get specific.
At the moment more than 64 million active websites sit on a content management system or CMS that’s easy for people to understand. It lets people build websites and manage content without knowing code, adding, amending and retiring content of every kind quickly and easily. There are thousands of different content management systems available. Each has its own target market and provides different features, but there’s a huge amount of overlap. If you need someone to design you a new CMS from scratch – although there’s little or no need for that these days - it involves a specific set of design skills.
CMS design services also involve working with an existing CMS to design sites for clients. Our designers, for example, are experienced in a wide variety of CMS software used to design websites, from Shopify and Joomla to WordPress. Some of the most popular CMS for 2022 are Hubspot, WooCommerce, Drupal, BigCommerce, Ghost and Umbraco (our personal favourite).
A good web designer will know what makes them different and be able to recommend the CMS that works best for your business. The key principles of website design we’ve talked about are baked into the best CMS. They come with varied design options, good data portability, creative extensions and useful add-ons, plus reliable help and support.
Responsive web design is all about making your site automatically available for your audience whatever device they’re using. It means adapting along with your audience so they don’t need to do anything to resize or reformat a web page to see it properly.
Because most people consume the internet via their phone these days, and Google’s search is configured to put mobile users first, it’s an essential aspect of every good website design. If you’ve ever come across a website you can’t use on your phone because the text is teeny-weeny and the layout has gone bonkers, it’s because it hasn’t been built responsively. And that must be one of the worst mistakes a web designer can make in today’s competitive landscape.
A responsive design always puts the user first. It’s about making their life as easy and pleasant as you can whatever the context. Your designer will make sure your site displays perfectly, seamlessly usable on a desktop, tablet, laptop and phone... as long as they have the right skills and knowledge.
Ecommerce web design services pay the same close attention to the key principles of web design, which run like a thread through every type of site from shops and brochure-ware to online education. A high quality design demands a deep and detailed knowledge of the way shops work online, and the way people buy online. It involves harnessing the many different ways in which design can encourage people to buy. Great ecommerce design drives more sales, encourages people to buy more of the same thing, buy it again, buy a similar thing or a complementary product, even buy a more expensive version of the same thing.
The UX is, if anything, more crucial than ever in an ecommerce web design context. There are usually several steps people take between arriving on a site and buying something. Every single step must be perfect as far as they’re concerned. No delays, no blips, no problems, just a smooth and enjoyable journey every step of the way, building a person’s trust and enthusiasm at every contact point.
The appearance of a store should be unique, on-brand and beautiful to look at, another essential a good website designer will achieve for you with flair and style.
In the early days of ecommerce, not that long ago, there were some horrors around offering terrible user experiences. Those were the bad old days. Now practically every ecommerce site you visit ticks all the right boxes as far as the UX and customer journey are concerned. It’s partly down to having so many excellent CMS to tap into.
An e-learning platform is an online learning environment where e-Learning happens. It includes a set of digital services involving teachers, pupils, all the right resources, tools, books, tests, and more. There’s usually a strong video component simply because video increases engagement across the board. When combined in the right way by a talented website designer all this provides an extremely powerful and inspiring environment for learning. As you can imagine, this might be the most challenging of all to design to fulfil the brief for everyone concerned. People learn differently, teachers teach differently, everyone’s needs are different. But every UX has to be seamlessly good or users will lose focus and lose interest.
So what are some of the world’s best known e-learning sites? Khan Academy earns a mention thanks to its self-paced, free online education offerings. An industry standard these days, it gives people an easy path to learning about any subject they like. And TedEd, a sister of Ted Talks, contains endless educational videos about a huge choice of general education topics, all free. Their topical videos are particularly popular, being less than ten minutes long in many cases.
The best e-learning sites are designed with users in mind, look great, and work beautifully. It’s those key principles of web design again. They pop up in every web design project. They matter just as much whatever is being designed. And they underpin everything we do for our clients.
Now you have a clear picture of the skills needed to design a site that works beautifully for everyone who uses it, in every circumstance. You understand the specific expertise and experience needed to get the results you want. You know what kind of focus your designer must have to make the best job of it. So you can choose the right website design services with confidence. If you’d like to know more about B2B or B2C website development from Intuitiv, we’re always happy to talk.