What is Web Design?

Most definitions of Web Design begin and end with a list of technical elements, but the science of web design is rarely enough to move the needle in any meaningful way.

The technical elements of web design are important, but it’s the art of the why in web design that leads to meaningful results.

I think that good web design leads the way without getting in the way.

If that definition doesn’t quite scratch your itch, read on.

Good Web Design Focuses on the Why, not the How

I remember the moment my thinking shifted on what good web design is. I was sitting with a client, pouring over this beautiful new site I had built for them, and she kept asking one question over and over again, “Okay, so why did you do that?”

I quickly realized that what she was really asking was, “How does this get me closer to achieving my goals?”

We know that things like site navigation, font choices, and color palettes have an impact on the user experience, but at the end of the day, the client cares about her whys more than her hows. She just wants to grow her business.

And that is what I really think web design does, it is a tool that never sleeps. It never takes a day off. It grows and adapts to your customer’s needs, and it represents you to the hundreds and thousands of eyes that might not be ready to talk face-to-face just yet, or more importantly, to the eyes that don’t yet know they need to talk to you in the first place.

Good Web Design Designs for Its Intended User

The most beautiful design brings together the aesthetic principles that get results.

Every picture, color choice, icon, and font selection should work together to lead the user to the areas of the website that have the most impact on the goals identified during our Discovery stage.

It means designing the user experience to be intuitive and frictionless. There are a million tiny decisions that don’t seem like a big deal in a vacuum, but when looked at from 30,000 feet, we are able to begin articulating a visual brand that is consistent with an organization’s overall image and values.

They say the devil is in the details. Well, so is good web design. At RedTree, I really stress the details, things like placing the menu on the right side of the screen instead of the left because we know that most users are right handed. That might not seem like a big deal, but the way a site menu is designed has a huge impact on things like bounce rates, search engine optimization (SEO), and your conversion analytics.

Good Web Design Starts with Discovery

You don’t know how to design a website until you know who you’re designing it for and why you’re designing it in the first place.

When I started RedTree Web Design a little over three years ago, I thought the secret to making a good website was being a better aesthetic designer than my competition. What I found out was that my clients couldn’t have cared less. Sure they wanted it to look nice, but what they really wanted to know was how investing in a new website was going to help them achieve their existing business goals.

Good web design has far less to do with making things look pretty as it does with tying functionality to performance indicators and knowing who your audience is. Be wary of anyone who tries to tell you differently. The prettiest pup at the dog show isn’t going to win anything if it can’t walk in a straight line.

Good Web Design Reinforces Customer Experience

Good web design should deliver the digital equivalent of someone talking to you in real life.

If you pride yourself on having the best customer service among your competitors, then maybe a live chat option should be front-and-center or maybe that wouldn’t work at all and there is a better option for your unique brand experience. If the web design doesn’t take the time to get to know you and what drives your organization, it can’t help you make that decision.

Web design should reinforce who you already are in a new and refreshing way instead of squeezing your brand into something that feels foreign and forced. That often means taking things away to clarify your message and streamline your intent.

What do you think web design is? How do you expect it to impact your business?


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