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Web design – definition, agencies & current trends

Web design encompasses visually appealing and technically feasible concepts for web applications, websites and mobile apps. As the world becomes more and more digital, web design is also becoming increasingly important. More and more applications are running via the internet or mobile apps. At the same time, more and more is technically possible and sometimes it is not the simplest but the most beautiful solution that is the most convincing.

This is why software developers* nowadays always work together with web designers or are even specialists in the field themselves. But what exactly is web design? These and many other questions are answered in the following article.

What is web design?

As part of graphic and media design, web design involves the graphic, purposeful and structural design of web applications, websites, mobile apps and much more. A web designer therefore has the task of creating a user interface that is appealing to the eye and can be implemented by the system. Terms such as UI and UX play a major role here.

UI refers to the so-called user interface, i.e. the interface that a user sees when interacting with the website, online portal or mobile app. In purely technical terms, this is the front end that software developers / web developers program. UX, on the other hand, is the abbreviation for user experience, i.e. the experience that a user has on the user interface.

The whole thing is also referred to as user-friendliness, which should logically be as great as possible. Ultimately, the aim is to provide a clear and simple structure that everyone can find their way around and that also looks visually appealing. This must also be possible on any device, so that the application works well on a laptop or desktop as well as on a tablet or smartphone.

This is often referred to as responsive web design, which means that it is user-friendly on any device.

What areas of web design are there?

Overall, web design can be divided into several areas. However, these are not always universally valid, as all web design agencies work differently and all web designers have different preferences, skills and approaches.

At the beginning of a web design, a simple mockup is often created first. This includes a drawing that describes buttons, images, text areas and other modules. The structure is recorded there without going into any major design features. Only when this structure is in place is the whole thing converted into a graphically appealing form.

The reason for this is that otherwise the entire design would have to be changed every time there are changes to the structure. In this area in particular, we usually work very closely with the respective customer to exchange ideas, wishes and requirements.

The corporate design is also defined at the start of a project. Some customers already have one, for some customers it first has to be finalized. It contains rules for the external appearance of a company. In the end, it is not only about the design of a web application, but also about the design of business cards, company cars or advertising posters, for example. Specifically, it includes predetermined colors, fonts and shapes that are used again and again. This creates a recognition value and a coherent external appearance.

Once the structure and design specifications have been determined, it’s time for the elementary part of the web design. The mockups are further processed using various programs so that the final design is available for every screen, every page and every setting. Again, attention must be paid to technical feasibility, logic and user-friendliness. Once the web design is complete and has been approved by the customer, it is passed on to the developers, who program a functional application from it.

What exactly does a web design agency do?

Web design agencies take on all the tasks in these areas. They are experts in design, user-friendliness and programming. However, each agency focuses on different things. Some web design agencies only do the design, some may end up doing the software development as well.

In both cases, people often work in project teams that are each responsible for one customer or one company. Communication is particularly important here. Regular communication should take place during the project so that the end result is a satisfactory product for all parties involved. Regular meetings or calls are therefore held to discuss the current status, progress and uncertainties. The customer therefore not only receives a finished web design at the end, but can also be involved in the processes again and again, provide feedback and suggest changes.

Full service web design agencies accompany the customer all the way from the initial concept to the finished end product. Agencies that only take on partial areas must also organize the coordination and mediation with software developers or other web agencies. These must work hand in hand in order to implement the planned web design in the end.

Agencies that offer web design include Platri IT and Webseiten-Schmied.

How do I become a web designer?

To work as a web designer in such an agency, there is not just one career path. On the contrary, the term “web designer” is not protected in Germany. Therefore, anyone who wants to offer such a service can call themselves a web designer. No matter what previous experience, training or certificates they have.

Nevertheless, a web designer should have good technical knowledge, a high level of creativity and a willingness to communicate. Above all, technical knowledge and creativity can be acquired in training courses or degree programs. Examples include courses such as communication design, graphic design, computer science or media informatics. Ultimately, however, practical experience is the most important factor. Prospective web designers should therefore gain experience through internships, for example, because web design can be learned primarily through application.

Completed projects, a good customer portfolio and positive reviews also help you to recognize good web design agencies when you are looking for them. As a customer, you also want to see the end result beforehand, which can serve as an example for your own project. Good agencies therefore have a broad portfolio and can show meaningful examples.

Web design tools - Which programs do web designers use?

Every web designer has their favorite tools to do their job. Many of these tools are widely used, some are very easy to use and others take a lot of experience to get to grips with.

Tools such as Flowmap or draw.io are ideal for initial mockups. Structures can be easily pre-drawn there, which can be transformed into a beautiful design in a later step. Photoshop is particularly suitable for editing images, graphics or backgrounds. Canva can be used for smaller designs, while complex web designs can be created with Adobe XD, Sketch or Figma, for example. With Adobe XD, for example, screens can be designed and linked in such a way that they look like a real web application. This means that user-friendliness can be tested in so-called user tests before the application is actually developed.

Web design tools:

To create an appealing web design, images are essential. On About Us pages, team pages or project examples, you should always use your own real images. On many other pages and for modules that are more in the background, stock images are also a good option. These can be found on Adobe Stock, Envato or Pixabay, for example. However, web designers should use them sparingly, as too many stock images can look too artificial and dubious.

Stock images:

Web design trends 2023? What makes it different today?

Even though every web design agency works differently, has its own requirements and the end results are individually designed, there are some general web design trends every year. These often change and thus influence the work of web designers.

One trend, for example, is minimalism. Websites are often becoming increasingly empty, use only a few colors and have a very simple structure. This is primarily intended to be user-friendly, as it allows every user to reach their destination quickly.

The idea of “mobile first” is also an important trend. In many areas, websites or web applications are visited almost exclusively via mobile devices. This is why responsive design is a top priority for many web designers. This trend will continue to grow in the coming years as everything becomes more digital and people increasingly want to browse the internet on the move.

Minimalism and “mobile first” actually rule out elaborate interactions and effects, but this also describes a trend in web design in 2023. Hover effects, GIFs and 3D animations often find their way onto websites. These are intended to make the user experience more exciting and make your website unique.

There are many other trends that could be listed here, such as split screens, Memphis design, scroll effects, retro typography and much more. In the end, however, it is important that every app, web application or website is individual. This allows the customer to bring in their personal ideas and the web design agencies can give free rein to their creativity.

Web design awards

There are various web design awards that are regularly presented to particularly good web design agencies. For example, there are the CSS Design Awards, the German Web Awards and the Orpetron Web Design Awards. These awards recognize particularly creative agencies that have stood out for their outstanding work. It is not only the design that counts, but also the service, user-friendliness or certain unique selling points of the web design agencies.

You can find examples of such special work on the pages of the respective awards, but also on others such as Awwwards.

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