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A Beginners Guide to Web Designing

Looking to design your own website? Or do you want to make a career out of web designing? Well, it is not going to be easy. It takes time, patience and lots of hard work to design your own website. While a single article is not enough to bestow all the skills, tools and technology needed to become a Web Designing, this particular guide will help you get to the right direction. Once you know the path to take, you need constant development and learning to get to your destination.

This guide is for those with no formal background or education in web designing. As long as you know the basics of operating a computer, you should be able to follow the contents of this guide pretty well. However, keep in mind that web designing is a pretty high-end subject. You might start from the basics, but you have to pick up lots of skills and knowledge, like human interaction with websites, color theory and, of course, coding languages such as CSS and HTML. You may also have to learn JavaScript and other programming languages. Then there is search engine optimization, content management systems, and so on.

Let’s begin by going through some of the concepts of web designing:

User Experience Web Designing

Also called UX or UI design, user experience design is basically about knowing how people will view, interact with and use your website, and how to use that knowledge to make a better website. There is a lot of work involve, and lots of trial and error too. The way in which you interact with and experience a website may be different from how others do. Your web designing may make perfect sense to you but end up confusing others.

While you learn about user experience design, it is also a good idea to start reading up on wire-framing, which is the processing in which you sketch very basic layout ideas. The sketches and concepts are pretty rough, so you can use a good old pen and paper or a phablet. You can then switch to a tablet or desktop as your layout ideas become more detailed. This process determines how your website will work, starting from scratch.

Learning aesthetic skills

Some people tend to focus on learning coding first before going for aesthetics, but it can be more beneficial to cover the theoretical bits of aesthetics before dipping your hands into coding. Aesthetics, after all, can be quite tricky to master. There is no accounting for taste; what looks good for you may be unpalatable to others. Fonts that seem to work well with your entire website’s theme may look weird and downright wrong to others. Everything is subjective, but there is a science to it all. If you can nail down this science and master the basic rules of aesthetics, you can get past most problems associated with this part of web designing.

Typography

typography

Images and videos are becoming all the rage online, but text remains and will always be the biggest part of websites. The internet is all about words and how to make them look and read amazing. Writing good text is up to the writer, but making it look good depends on the typography. Typography is not just about picking a font, though. It is also about choosing a good font size and type and arranging it to make it readable to your website visitors, irrespective of what browser they are using on which device. It is also about creating a visual hierarchy between the headings, titles and body.

Once you know the rules of typography, it is time to pick the right fonts for the website. You can find a lot of free ones, and Google Web Fonts in particular can be a great tool in this. In web designing many designers choose Google fonts because they can be directly embedded onto the website. You can even find some great Google Font combinations online, or use the Web Font Combinator to pair and preview your own font combinations.

In some cases, you may have to embed the fonts on your own, which is not as convenient. If you want to learn how to embed fonts on your own, you’ll have to start learning some basic CSS and HTML coding.

Color theory

colors

Color theory is more than just about learning the technical names of various colors. In fact, it deals with color combinations and how different colors can have different impacts on human emotions. Color theory is an actual science and can have a big impact on the usability and user experience on your website. For instance, the text on a web page would not be very visible if its color was too close to that of the background. Screen glare, visual impairments and poorly configured screens can add to the challenges.

HTML

web designing

Once you know the aesthetics and theory behind web designing, it is time to get your hands dirty and learn some coding, starting with the most fundamental language: Hypertext Markup Language or HTML. Every website ever uses HTML, which tells the web browser whether it is looking at a video, link, image or text.

The next language you need to learn is Cascading Style Sheets or CSS, which is what makes your website look good. It tells the browser the font of the text and colors of various elements. It can also define the layout of the website, the look of the buttons, the size of various elements, and even animations.

HTML and CSS are actually pretty easy to pick up, but they are extensive and can be used in various ways to make unique web designing. It takes time and practice to learn how to use them effectively.

JavaScript

Learning JavaScript is an optional thing, but it can be a huge bonus. It is a programming language that can manipulate web content in ways that cannot be done through just CSS or HTML. But it is not a necessity for every website and it can be a little more difficult to grasp than HTML or CSS. Nevertheless, it is very useful and an important technology used in web designing. You can use it to add fancy elements such as slideshows or call in new content without needing to reload the page. This can improve website usability.

Getting the tools needed

Web designing requires certain tools, processes and workflows, although it is hard to lock onto a certain mix. Everyone has their own favorite tools, and there are those who would defend their selections with savage loyalty. Leaving aside this intense loyalty, it is always a good idea to keep experimenting with new web designing tools rather than locking yourself up.

It is never a good idea to lock yourself into a limited number of tools and get too comfortable with them. Keep experimenting with new tools and keep your mind fresh. To begin with, however, let’s look at the free ones.

  • All major browsers

The major browsers – Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer – work in their own unique ways and can display the same web page in different ways. You need to see how your website looks in all these major browsers and make sure that there are no major problems in any of them. Website layouts in general are pretty much uniform across the major browsers thanks to improvements in their capabilities, but the same cannot be said for all elements. The key to good web designing is to test in multiple environments.

Mobile browsers also need to be used, although you would be limited to the devices that you currently own. Nevertheless, most major mobile browsers today have similar capabilities. Chrome is the most common mobile browser, but Mozilla is working on a mobile version of Firefox for iOS. Opera and Opera Mini are other common alternatives.

  • Wire-framing tools

For wire-framing, you can use a basic pen and paper or a drawing app of some sort. The key is to have something disposable and to have a platform for sketching out rough ideas to refine them a little more.

Wire-frame-example

  • Drawing apps

Once you begin making real wire-frames for the basis of your code, it is time to get yourself a wire-framing app. Google Draw from Drive is a good option because it features all basic shapes and live collaboration and sharing features in case you want to work or get help from someone else. It is also web-based and you get around 15GB of free space. If you work with your tablet though, you have to find an alternative.

  • Code editor

HTML and CSS can be coded on something as basic as Notepad. All you need is a text editor, but not a word processor like Microsoft Word. Code editors are essentially text editors with added functions to make coding programs and websites easier.

notepad4ever

There are lots of them available, and the best thing to do here is to experiment and to not keep yourself limited to just one. For beginners, a good option to start with is Brackets. It is stable and free and works on Linux, Mac and Windows. Brackets is also specifically designed for those who build and design websites on the browser.

  • Image editor

Text forms most of website content, but images are also a big part of the experience, and you need to create and edit icons, logos, photos and other images for your website. Once again, the key is to keep experimenting with different programs. You will have to pay for these editors, but there are free trials available for you to test them out. Common ones to start with include GIMP, Photoshop, Paint.Net, CorelDraw and other Corel apps.

Adobe_Photoshop_screenshot

  • Local server

This one is optional, but it is a good idea to install a web server in your personal computer. A web server is essentially meant to allow people to access all or parts of your website. A local server remains closed from the internet unless you have a really fast internet connection and a powerful computer. Instead, you can just set up a server to imitate how things work online. Learning to work with a locally installed server can also save lots of time when uploading your files onto an actual hosting server. For beginners, XAMPP is a good option to set up a local server. It can be installed on Linux, Mac or Windows.

Steps to designing a website

Now that you have the tools, skills and knowledge needed, it is time to quickly look at the web designing process:

  • Bringing in the content

Creating website content is different from the web designing process. You have to write the content yourself or get it from your client. You can also hire a photographer or copywriter, or choose good stock images. In any case, you need to get all the content, including the text and images, organized and ready to go.

Once you have all the content, it is time to get everything organized. What goes on the home page and other pages and how are these pages connected? These questions are important in establishing a structural organization that will determine your site navigation, file organization and other aspects.

Wire-framing is a good process to follow here. Start with disposable wire-frames and keep things basic. It is a quick process and should not take more than half an hour to complete each page. Make more detailed versions once you are done with the disposable wire-framing process. Include actual content as much as you can and add individual elements such as buttons and forms. Keep adding more definition. If you have lots of pages of the same type, just make a page of each type.

  • Coding

Now it is finally time to get your coding hat on and fire up your text editor. The key here is to keep typing code until you are happy with the final output. The Brackets text editor has a great feature for this: the Live Preview button. It opens up a Google Chrome browser window that is updated with the changes that you make to the code. During this process, you will be resizing your browser several times to see how the website looks in various sizes. Typos will be made and there will be trial and error.

  • Testing

With the basic code in place, it is time to begin testing the website on all the major desktop and mobile browsers and start fixing up the bugs. Do not worry about small inconsistencies; the key is to make the user experience positive irrespective of the browser. The user should be able to navigate the site like you intended and reach the call to action.

The post A Beginners Guide to Web Designing appeared first on eduCBA.



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A Beginners Guide to Web Designing

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