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What Is Web Design

When we talk about Web Design, many only think of the graphics, header, buttons and navigation of a Website.

Actually, Web Design may consist of
1. the structure of the website including the information architecture (navigation schemes and naming conventions),
2. the layout or the pages (wireframes or page schematics are created to show consistent placement of items including functional features), and
3. the conceptual design with branding.

In other words, we may need to break it into two parts:
1. The Front End:The design of the look and feel (the graphics, font type and size, color schemes, front end navigation, Ajax and other client side scripting techniques ), browser compatibility and accessibility;
2. The Back End: The design of the architecture (server side or back end, use of Web servers such as Apache, IIS, or others, use of programming languages: J2EE, .Net, PHP, or Python, and use of databases: MySQL, MS SQL, Oracle, Sybase, SQLite, use of development frameworks: Spring, .NET, PHP frameworks such Symfony, Zend, PHPcake, Ruby on Rails, ). Scalability and extensibility are the main issues for business sites which may need to handle high volume of traffic or quickly adapt to the quick changing business needs.

Many people often think of Web design as a very similar way to traditional print publishing, only showing the contents in the browser. However, the two medias are so different that we really need to design the sites in a very different way.

For example, some sites try to design the online dictionary with the look and feel of a traditional dictionary. But that is a mistake because they do not really that their visitors really prefer the kind of online dictionaries that can provide interactive linking and customized to their Web browsers.

When we design an online newspaper, some tend to just put the pdf files (prepared to traditional printing) up there for online viewing. Even though the epaper format provide some good navigation buttons for turning the pages, but still the visitors prefer the convenience of getting to only the contents interesting to them quickly and get to the related articles with very few mouse click. They also want the articles are very searchable. The web site owners of the online newspapers also want the search engines to quickly index their new articles, while the pdf file with all the articles in one place turn out to a “no no” for SEO (search engine optimization).

Readers of online newspapers also would love the chance to join the discussion of each individual article on the major issues by adding their comments and feedback. And this is the most important part of the Web2.0 site design. The more active discussion on the article page, the better SEO results we can get. Search engines love fresh discussion.

Take a look at the good example of News for Chinese:

Contact Forms for Visitors Input

Lots of web sites were designed without the clear purpose of getting the leads for their business. Why? Because they do not offer easily accessible contact or feedback forms on their site. A good Web design need to offer two ways of communication, not one way. Some site owners said, “I don’t have time to respond to the incoming messages.” Well, does it mean that they do not care for harvest the return on their investment on the sites? Yes, you may get spamming or junk that may waste your time. That means we need to design the sites to prevent or reduce spamming. So many sites make the big mistake by only putting their email address ( in clear text) on their sites without any online email forms. That would definitely get you more spams.

This article only touch the surface of some basic Web Design.
Let’s talk more about that in our future articles.

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