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Web design is key to a successful website

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Websites are written in a language called hyper text markup language, or HTML for short. It is called a "markup" language because instead of being a traditional computer language that deals with logic and procedures it rather provides a system of predefined "tags" which are used to organize and format text. In other words the language itself does not perform any commands on the computer, but rather relies on the web browser to interpret the tags and display the web page. Initially HTML was very limited and technology limited the ability of web browsers to display graphics and complex information structures. However nowadays our virtual world is a lot more attractive because of advances in web design.

Web design principles

Web design is similar in some ways to conventional print design, but radically different in other respects. Because websites are an entirely new form of communication certain new elements have been introduced as part of a design philosophy. Another challenge that website design faces is that not everybody has the same type of computer system. When publishing a book it is possible for the designer to know exactly how that book will look to all users. A website designer needs to plan in advance how their webpage will look on different browsers, different computers, and in different situations (like accessibility and mobile devices). A well designed webpage will provide information that is easy to read and that leads the user to find more information that they might want.

Web design involves putting together the elements of a web page so that they are logically and aesthetically presented to the user.

Tools of web design

  • Various markup languages - HTML, XHTML, and XML
  • Style sheets that control the presentation of the page - CSS and XSL
  • Computer scripts that run on the web browser - Javascript
  • Computer scripts that run on the web server - PHP, ASP
  • Databases that run on servers - mySQL
  • Multimedia programs to deliver rich media to the user - Flash, Silverlight

Using these elements a web designer is able to take a complex system of information and present it to the user. There is increasingly a focus on making web pages accessible to all users. A framework known as the Web Content Accessibility Guideline has been developed to help web designers create webpages that do not discriminate against users with physical limitations.

Content Management Systems and Web Design

A content management system (for example Joomla, Drupal, or Wordpress) is a program that helps people to be able to edit their own website. Many of them are freely available and are helping small businesses to dynamically edit and update their websites without needing to hire web designers or web developers. Often a business will hire a professional web design expert to customize how a CMS looks and then use their own staff to implement ongoing changes to the site. Thus web design can be said to be increasingly becoming a system whereby professionals empower non-technical users to be able to run their own websites.