By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
When is it appropriate to hire a graphic designer? When should you use Flash animation or HTML? We are joined by Sparxoo’s Senior Designer, Deirdre Zahl, to discuss the basics of web design and how entrepreneurs can utilize design for their brand.
Deirdre is a graphic designer with seven years of industry experience who specializes in web design. She has worked with clients ranging from top-tier luxury brands in the fashion industry such as CHANEL and MAC Cosmetics, commercial and residential real estate clients, Ann Taylor LOFT.com and other small e-commerce sites. She is also experienced in logo, brand and web development, as well as print and web design. She holds a BA in Communication Design from Skidmore College.
What is the purpose of web design?
Web design is not just how a web page looks, it’s how users interact and have a relationship with it. It’s about designing an experience on a visual and functional level.
It’s incredible how subtle, functional changes can make tremendous impact. Consider the donate button for non-profits. If the button is not prominently displayed, it could greatly reduce the amount of donations. A solution could be as simple as changing the button to a bold color, like orange or red, or increasing its size.
Functionality also extends to search. The basic HTML on a website enables it to be indexed by search engine crawlers.
The website has to have enough live content, tags and links that it can be picked up by Google in order to be found. While graphic treatments can enhance a site visually, they also limit its visibility to search engines. It is important to have a balance of both, proportionate to the goal of your business. E-commerce sites, for instance, or real estate listing services, would want to have a very high percentage of searchable content.
There are SEO specialists who can help with the technical side–implementing it from the back end. Designers have to consider this in crafting a site, adding visually friendly places for links, not overusing graphic or Flash elements and thinking about natural ways to interlink pages and sections of the website.
When would an entrepreneur want to consider hiring a web designer?
Web design and layouts used to be the domain of tech-savvy professionals (think coding languages: HTML, Java, C++, etc.). In today’s digital world, there are incredible tools for non-professionals to create professional-looking websites. WordPress and SquareSpace enables anyone to design and manage a website. Thousands of web designers & developers have created high quality WordPress templates for anyone to use.
In theory, anyone can build a website if they take the time to learn what it entails. Though templates might be cost effective in the short term, web designers analyze how your audience is going to use your site and recommend ways in which you can increase revenue through strategic design changes and deliver the most appealing design for your audiences. Consider the role of an architect in building a house. You would want them to have an engineering degree. The same is true for building a website. Where a template might meet your basic digital needs, web designers can tailor a layout to meet the unique preferences of your audience. In the long run, understanding just how your audience uses your website and how to maximize your space is essential for a return usage and meeting long-term goals.
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