Web design is different than traditional print publishing. Every
website is an information display container, just as a book is a
container; and every web page is like the page in a book. However the
end size and shape of the web page is not known to the web designer,
whereas the print designer will know exactly what size paper he will be
For the typical web sites, the basic aspects of design are:
- The content: the substance, and information on the site should
be relevant to the site and should target the area of the public
that the website is concerned with.
- The usability: the site should be user-friendly, with the
interface and navigation simple and reliable.
- The appearance: the graphics and text should include a single
style that flows throughout, to show consistency. The style should
be professional, appealing and relevant.
- The structure: of the web site as a whole.
A web site typically consists of text, images, animation and /or
video. The first page of a web site is known as the Home page or Index
Page. Some web sites use what is commonly called a Splash Page. Splash
pages might include a welcome message, language or region selection, or
disclaimer, however search engines, in general, favor web sites that
don't do this which has caused these types of pages to fall out of
favor. Each web page within a web site is a 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 web site is completed, it must be published or uploaded in order
to be viewable to the public over the internet. This may be done using
an FTP client.
Web site design crosses multiple disciplines of multiple information
systems, information technology, marketing, and communication design.
The web site 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
By its very nature, web design is conflicted, involving rigid technical
conformance and personal creative balance. Rapid technological change
complicates acquiring and deploying suitable resources to maintain web
Layout is a double edged sword: on the one hand, it is the expression of
a framework that actively shapes the web designer. On the other hand, as
the designer adapts that framework to projects, layout is the means of
content delivery. Publishing a web engages communication throughout the
production process as well as within the product created. Publication
implies adaptation of culture and content standards. Web design
incorporates multiple intersections between many layers of technical and
social understanding, demanding creative direction, design element
structure, and some form of social organization. Differing goals and
methods resolve effectively in successful deployment of education,
software and team management during the design process. However, many
competing and evolving platforms and environments challenge acceptance,
completion and continuity of every design product.
Proportional, liquid and hybrid layout are also referred to as
dynamic design. Hybrid layout incorporates any combination of fixed,
proportional or fluid elements within (or pointing to) a single page.
The hybrid web design framework is made possible by digital internet
conventions generally prescribed by the W3C. If any layout does not
appear as it should, it is very likely that it does not conform to
standard design principles, or that those standards conflict with
standard layout elements. Current knowledge of standards is essential to
effective hybrid design.
The earliest web pages used fixed layouts without exception. In many
business pages fixed layouts are preferred today as they easily contain
static tabled information. Fixed layout enforces device display
convention, as viewers must set their display to at least a certain
width to easily view content. This width can include display of
corporate logos, cautions, advertisements and any other target content.
Design frameworks for fixed layout may need to include coding for
multiple display devices.
Hybrid design maintains most static content control, but is adapted to
textual publishing, and for readers, to conventional (printed) display.
Hybrid layouts are generally easy on the eye and are found on most sites
that distribute traditional images and text to readers. For some sites,
hybrid design makes an otherwise cold text column appear warm and
balanced. A good example of hybrid layout is Wordpress, where liquid
design is now optional, and movie and auditory media is stretching the
Fluid design is useful where content is delivered to an 'unknown device'
population. Appropriate liquid code displays images, text and spaces
proportional to display size. Someone with a handheld can see view and
interact with the same content as someone using a large desktop monitor.
However, scaling of content for a variety of devices has more recently
evolved with modern web browsers, allowing users to see the same layout
across all devices.