Web Design Fundamentals: A Comprehensive Guide

Published 2020-05-11T06:00:59 by Bryan Miller

If you’ve recently been taking steps to grow your brand, among the more important steps that you should take in the near future is to design and develop a website that will represent your brand online. Web design involves a variety of different processes that include conceptualizing, planning, and arranging content that’s meant to be placed on the internet. In many cases, web design will involve the creation of a website.

When you’re attempting to create an effective website for your brand, it’s important that you understand the purpose of your site. If the website is an eCommerce store where you sell products or services, users should be able to navigate between different site pages without any slowdown or loading problems. The content that you place on your site pages should be curated to your overall purpose, which should allow you to grow your business and improve your brand.

You could decide to use web design for the purpose of obtaining higher conversion rates for your business, which can assist you in bringing in more revenues. If you want to reach high conversion rates, it’s recommended that you implement a responsive web design that will allow your website to work properly on all devices. If every type of customer can reach your website and have a great user experience, you should soon notice a substantial increase in site traffic.

Another essential web design fundamental involves the content you place on your website. Whether you write blog articles or implement videos and other forms of multimedia on the site, the content that you create should always be centered around your target audience. If you can satisfy this audience, you shouldn’t have difficulties retaining customers. Before you get started with web design, it’s recommended that you learn about the most essential fundamentals, all of which are detailed in this guide.

A Web Page with Purpose

two women looking at laptop screen

Many websites are bogged down by having pages upon pages that are filled with content that no one wants or needs. If you want your website to be wholly successful, it’s highly recommended that your web pages have a purpose. Users are almost certainly visiting your website for a reason, which is why you should take some time to identify what you want that reason to be. If you want site visitors to search for your website because they view it as a leading authority in the industry that you operate in, you will likely need to provide visitors with premium content that can’t be found anywhere else.

When designing your website, make sure that you communicate clearly and succinctly. If your content is vague and relatively meaningless, you’re not providing site visitors with any tangible value that will make them visit the website in the future. To make sure that your web pages are purposeful, focus on catching the attention of your site visitors above the fold. The “above the fold” phrase refers to the top half portion of the initial page that users will view when they select a link. While the bottom half of the page is important, the top half is where visitors will spend most of their time.

When you’re working on making your web pages more purposeful, it’s also important that you focus on page ranking and SEO. Search engine optimization involves optimizing your website and the content inside of it to be more appealing to search engines like Google. By using the right keywords and phrases in your site content, your website should start to appear towards the top of search results.

Web Design for Higher Conversion Rates

Conversion rates for websites refer to the overall percentage of prospective customers who eventually take a certain action when viewing your website. When you’re attempting to measure conversion rates, you will have the ability to set what you want the specific action to be. For instance, the conversion rates that you measure could be based on the number of site visitors who end up purchasing a product. However, you could also measure these rates by the number of people who sign up for a newsletter or submit a questionnaire.

If you want to boost your conversion rates, you can do so by adding social proof, which is a kind of concept wherein people decide to take the same actions as the masses. To add social proof to your site design, it’s recommended that you add some case studies or customer testimonials, both of which almost always increase conversion rates. Make sure that you determine your purpose as well as the purpose of the user when identifying how to increase conversion rates.

Finally, it’s important that you clearly display contact info that will allow customers to get in touch with you. While you will likely want to create a “Contact Us” page, the telephone or email address associated with your company should be displayed in the header or footer of every page. On the “Contact Us’ page that you make, consider including a web form that will allow site visitors to write a simple message and send it to you when they have a query. Following all of the guidelines in this article should help you increase your conversions substantially.

Content is King

person using computer mouse

Another key web design fundamental is that content is king. If you provide site visitors and your target audience with the kind of content that they’re interested in, you should start to see an increase in traffic to your site. When you’re trying to determine how effective your content is, you should look at the bounce rates for each page of your site. These rates indicate how long users typically stay on a specific page before they decide to leave the site. If you experience high bounce rates on the checkout page for your website, this means that customers are deciding to leave your site before purchasing a product.

In general, you have around 15 seconds to capture the attention of site visitors once they reach their intended page. Users typically appreciate credibility and quality with the content that they view. If a page on your website delivers useful and premium content to site visitors, they will likely continue to view the content even if there are advertisements on your page. There are many websites that are poorly designed but still gain a significant amount of traffic through the years because they provide users with premium content that they can’t get anywhere else. It’s important that you understand that content is definitely more important than the site design that supports it.

Keep in mind that site visitors don’t typically read content in detail. At first, these visitors will quickly scan the content to determine if it’s appealing. When they are analyzing a page on your website, they will search for various anchors in the content that will take them through the page. Because of how important content is, it’s recommended that you create a blog for your website. This blog should be filled with articles and posts that are relevant to the interests of your primary audience.

Page Layout Essential Concepts

design definition

To make sure that site visitors remain engaged with the content on your website, there should be a flow so that you can properly guide visitors through the website in the direction that you want them to go. With the correct layout, you can guide site visitors through a targeted website experience that takes them from the initial page to a conversion page. The page layout on your website should allow visitors to understand the purpose of the page, which should keep these individuals engaged.

Page Navigation

Page navigation is highly important if you want users to remain on your website for more than a couple of minutes. Placing navigation lists above the fold provides visitors with a preview of site content and a look at the various pages that they can navigate to. Since you have 15 seconds to capture the attention of site visitors, you should use the 15 seconds to your advantage.

Grid-based Layouts

Likely the best type of layout for websites is the grid-based layout, which allows you to keep site content structured while still being able to customize the design and layout of the site. The grid displays how all of the page elements interact with one another while also ensuring that you are able to use a basic structure that can accentuate the most important page information.

To understand how this type of layout works, think about a standard grid. A single page element would be placed in one section of the grid. You could decide to include the entirety of the “above the fold” portion of a page as one element while dividing the lower portion of the page into several different elements. Take a look at the Mercer Tavern website to see an example of a grid-based layout.

F-Pattern Design: Don’t Do It

It’s highly recommended that you avoid using the F-pattern design when creating your website. While this design was once popular among site designers, the Nielsen-Norman group found that this reading pattern is bad for site visitors and should be avoided whenever possible. The reason that this pattern used to be popular is because people are known to scan computer screens in a standard “F” pattern.

However, forcing the visual flow through your site design is a bad idea. Instead, you should accommodate the pattern. When users scan a website in an F-pattern, they are focusing primarily on the left portion of a web page while overlooking pertinent information on the right side of the screen. If you want to prevent this type of scanning, your content should direct users to the area of the page with the most important content.

UX Writing Tips

When you’re working on creating the user experience for your website, there are some simple guidelines that you should follow if you want to keep users engaged with the site. When writing for your website, try to avoid using the word “is” as often as possible. This word is boring and basically useless in UX design. Consider replacing the word with active verbs like “defines” or “expresses”.

You should also focus on creating lists in the UX content. When you’re listing ingredients for a recipe, you don’t do so in sentence form. Whether you number the lists or use bullet points with them, short and simple lists are much more readable than placing numerous items in a single sentence.

Whenever you place lengthy content on your website, it’s important that you break it up as often as you can, which can be done with headings, bullet points, and bold words. Finally, it’s essential that you link to other sites or articles in a clear manner. You should avoid placing a link over the word “here”. Instead, you could place a link over the name of the article or website that the user will be sent to when clicking on the link.

Online Resources to Learn Web Design Fundamentals

two large computer screen monitors

If you would like to learn more about web design fundamentals and how to use them in your website, there are some great and highly useful online resources available to you.

Lynda.com + LinkedIn Learning

Lynda.com is a wonderful online resource that provides extensive web training and tutorials on a wide range of subjects. Every course is separated into numerous videos that are outfitted with sample code and walk-through examples as they are needed. Whether you would like to learn about web design or web graphics, you can jump into any subject and learn at your own pace. When you first sign up with this resource, you’ll be provided with a free month of access. After this period, unlimited access is available for $29 per month.


Udemy is a highly popular resource that allows users to learn everything from web development to game development. Keep in mind that you will be required to pay separately for each course that you’re interested in. However, free previews are available for some of the lectures, which can help you determine if you’re interested in the course. These courses are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses. Once you enroll, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t wholly satisfied.


CodeAcademy is a comprehensive online learning resource that aims to help individuals learn more about such subjects as computer science, code foundations, and web development. The path that you take will include numerous lessons that start with the basics and end with advanced application of the lessons.

Written instructions are included with every lesson that should help you get familiar with writing code. You can complete these sources at your own pace. To use this resource, you can create a free account that provides limited interactive lessons or a pro account that costs $20 per month, the latter of which should help you learn how to convert lessons on writing code into practical knowledge that you can take with you into the workplace.

MDN Web Docs (Free)

MDN Web Docs is a free web design resource that was originally created by a community of developers. This community updates the resource frequently and is comprised of employees from Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Mozilla. When you use this resource, you can effectively search for the topic that you would like to learn about, which could be anything from CSS and HTML to web development. When you select the specific topic you’re interested in, you’ll be provided with lessons, information, and additional resources on the subject.

Web design is a core element involved with creating websites for any purpose. When running your own business, it’s important that you have a strong and effective digital presence that will bring in new customers and satisfy your current audience. While you can always hire a professional web design team to assist you with building and developing your website, knowing what kind of content to include in your website and how to add value to a web page can be very beneficial towards allowing you to maintain a website even after you have received assistance from a design team.

Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller

Bryt Designs

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web tech enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. Bryan is a recent graduate of the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine and continues to pursue tools and technologies to find success for clients across a varieties of industries.

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