An illustrative definition of Web design would be that it is a branch of design that deals with the development, planning and application of Web sites, including tools that allow the information prioritization, surfing, interaction and location, and the use of means such as audio and video ?neither of them part of graphic design. However, this definition is not enough for people who want to learn how the Internet and a Web site can greatly benefit their company. We need to explain what Web design is and what a Web site is. Thus, we have a method and an object ?design and the site. We will star talking about the object.

A Web site is an advertising tool which, nowadays, is essential. An Internet site is no longer a luxury, but today it is a need for all corporations. A firm without a Web site will find it difficult to get a place in the market, and that is because these sites provide companies with different characteristics which are indispensable for a company. These characteristics are interactivity, location, advertising, identity and, of course, appearance. We will start with the latter.

Appearance on the Internet is not negotiable: A company that is not on the Internet cannot be found and it gains a bad reputation, as it looks old and careless about society's and the market's changes. Nowadays, it is very common to have a Web site for your company, and people will be disappointed if they find there is no Web site to visit. Internet is the most visited mean when looking for a certain firm: users type the company’s name or field in a search engine such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. and hope to find a site they like. That means that if your company is not listed on the Internet, it is not listed in the market.

Interactivity is a distinguishing feature of Web sites. Internet sites belong to a group of elements that make up the corporate identity. All design’s components that make up this identity share the same characteristic: the company’s message is send from it to the public. On the other hand, a Web site does not share this feature; it receives a response from the public and, at the same time, the company answers to the clients and, thus, a relationship is built. This is what Web site’s interaction is all about. This interaction allows businessmen to learn more about their potential clients, their wishes, needs, likes, dislikes, etc. This way, a Web site is a company's unique communicative tool that results in an endless number of benefits.

The information about the location a Web site gives is rather complex. Let’s start from the beginning. Before the Industrial Revolution, all the communities had their factory or company, everybody knew them, a great number of its people worked there and everybody knew its location, its building and its owners. Industrialization and the small and medium size companies’ boom packed the global markets and, thus, people stopped recognizing them. As people no longer recognized the company, a process of abstraction started: it was no longer known by its building, its workers or its owners; it was just recognized because of the signs that represented it. Companies used to have a customer service office where clients' problems were solved and their doubts were clarified. Besides, that office was a place where people had a «material» place to relate to the firm. Over time, that customer service office disappeared and Web sites were born: the abstract company has new offices, which are virtual, a sign that represents the firm and «places it» ?although it is a virtual space? so that the public can relate to it and takes it into account when they need to buy a certain product.

The Internet creates great advertising. A Web site itself advertises the company, its products or services, and also allows an indirect advertisement. A big deal of advertisement comes from the Web site's visits, from search engines, but having a Web site also allows you to advertise on other Web sites. The ads we see on the Internet are different from the traditional ads. A simple ad advertises a certain product: the ad communicates a product or service’s benefits and advantages. On the other hand, Internet ads lie in placing an ad on a site so that people click a link and directly go to that site. Thus, an ad sends people to your site. If you do not have a site, there is nowhere to send people and, if your site is not good enough, the money you spent on the ad is a waste.

A corporate identity is created from the elements that make it. Your company’s Web site is one of the most important elements, due to its persistence, its duration, its publicity and its interactive nature. There is a whole section about this subject, Concept and corporate identity, about a company's Web site.

Having explained the features of the Web design’s object of work, we should think about the benefits of hiring a designer. A Web design expert will make full use of them, taking the client’s likes into account and directing them in a useful way. However, Web designers do not create ideas, but they produce signs that efficiently communicate them. You just need to think about what you want, and the designer will make it come true.

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