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What Does a Web Designer Do - Scope of Web Design Explained

Not sure what are the responsibilities of a web designer? Let’s answer the question “what does a web designer do” by looking at the web design process in more detail.

Web design
June 5, 2023
10
min

Since website design is such a complex process, it can be difficult to understand the scope of web design services. So, what does a web designer do, exactly? 

But before we get into how web design works, let’s answer one of the most frequently asked questions small business owners ask: do I need a professionally designed website?

Well, we’ll let you decide.

  • 38% of visitors will stop engaging with a website if the design is unattractive, and 48% say the design of the website is the most important factor in determining a business’ credibility (Blue Corona)
  • 98% of people who’ve had a bad website experience will shop with a competitor (Web FX)
  • 61% of consumers plan to spend more time online post the covid-19 pandemic than before it (Salesforce)

And the list of stats goes on. With more people online than ever before, more websites, the standard for web design is very high. If you want your business to succeed, you must have a well-designed, technically optimized and mobile-friendly website.

Of course, hiring web designers and developers can be costly. So you can try to create your own website or landing page with the help of online tools. However, this requires a lot of time, and you may end up with a poorly designed website that hurts your brand image and online presence. 

For a professional and user-friendly website that represents your brand well, you’ll need to hire a professional web designer.

What does a web designer do?

So, you’re looking to hire someone to create a brand new website for your business. Does that mean you can simply let work and end up with a live website? Not quite.

Let’s take a look at website design tasks that are the responsibility of a web designer.

 

Research

No design project comes out of thin air. First the client does the necessary research in order to write a good design brief. After that a designer has to find relevant projects and research competitor websites.

Wireframing

Wireframes are visualizations of the basic look and layout of your web pages, and together they create a complete sitemap. This is a critical step in ensuring that the website goals are evident for anyone landing on it.

This is often something whole design teams work on together. UI designers ensure that the layout makes sense and that the site provides visual guidance for visitors. UX designers are concerned with information architecture, or grouping the information in a way that helps visitors have the best experience.

wireframes.png
Image source: G2

Graphic design

Finally, your team is ready to start working on the actual visual design part. For this, they’ll need to have access to your brand guidelines, to ensure that the website matches the look and style of the brand.

There are many web design tools out there, and you ought to specify whether you have a preference beforehand. Here are some of the most popular programs for web design:

  • Adobe XD
  • Figma
  • Sketch
  • InVision

We’ve already talked about the importance of written content for your website. So it’s time to consider how important visual elements are in creating a powerful online presence. In fact, we only remember about 20% of what we read, and 80% of what we hear. So, relaying key information in a visual manner is a great way to ensure a positive user experience. 

This is where graphic design skills really pay off. Stock photos and product shots are great, but creating custom visuals that tell site visitors about your business is another level. 

Another thing that a professional UI designer knows is the importance of load time. Around half (47%) of consumers expect a website to load within 2 seconds, while 40% abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

All the graphics and images used on your website need to be of high quality, but remember that they should also be optimized (or compressed) for web use, so as not to slow the website down.  

Information architecture

While the designer isn’t responsible for creating the copy used on the website, they can make decisions on how to present the text.

The way information is grouped and presented on the website is called information architecture.

This might mean the organization of entire pages, or how specific chunks of text are presented within the page. Bear in mind that this is rarely something a web designer does (or should do) without any input from the client. In order to understand how to create information architecture, the client needs to provide web designers with the following information:

  • Who are the users?
  • What is the content?
  • What is the context?

Responsive design

In a world where over half of Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, the need for responsive design is one of the most vital project requirements for requesting web design.

Responsive design means creating websites that adapt and respond to different screen sizes, devices, and orientations. The goal of responsive design is to provide an optimal user experience regardless of whether a user is accessing the website on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

From using the right kind of fonts (web vs. system fonts) to anticipating how content will be scaled to smaller screens, and optimizing images and media for web use - there’s much more tweaking involved than a simple piece of graphic design. Although  web developers execute the scaling, web designers provide guidelines on how the content should look on a different screen. 

User experience design (interaction design) 

Although technically everything we’ve talked about thus far falls under the umbrella term “user experience design (UX)” , it’s worth understanding what this concept is all about in a bit more detail.

When a designer creates packaging for a product, apart from aesthetic considerations (what will draw consumers attention, what’s the brand identity, etc.) they also have to think about the protection of a product, transportation, etc.

User experience design works similarly in web design. Aside from making sure the website looks good and professional, one of the most important web designer responsibilities is to ensure the website is enjoyable to use. Some aspects of a positive UX in web design are:

  • Intuitive Navigation: Clear and easy-to-use navigation menus that help users find the information they need quickly and effortlessly.
  • Fast loading speed: Optimized website performance with fast loading times, minimizing user frustration and abandonment.
  • Mobile-friendly design: A responsive design that adapts to various devices, ensuring a seamless experience on smartphones and tablets.
  • Visually appealing design: A visually attractive design with a consistent and aesthetically pleasing layout and color scheme.
  • Clear call-to-action (CTA): Obvious and well-placed CTAs that guide users towards desired actions, such as sign-ups, downloads, or purchases.
  • Accessibility: Design elements that accommodate users with disabilities, ensuring that everyone can access and interact with the website.
  • Error handling: Informative error messages and helpful guidance when users encounter errors or issues on the website.
  • Consistency: A consistent design across different pages and sections of the website, providing a sense of coherence and familiarity.
  • Feedback mechanism: Providing ways for users to offer feedback, report issues, or contact support, showing that their opinions and concerns are valued.
  • Fast and efficient forms: Streamlined and user-friendly forms with clear instructions, making it easy for users to complete their tasks.
  • Loading progress indicators: Displaying loading indicators during processes that may take some time, indicating to users that the website is actively working.
  • Personalization (when appropriate): Tailoring content or recommendations based on users' preferences and behavior, enhancing their experience.

What doesn’t a web designer do?

Web design scope of work often depends on the agreement with your service provider. Some freelance web designers may offer development services. And there are web agencies that stick to design and development, and won’t help out with tasks like copywriting. 

Market research

No matter how vital a website is to the success of any business, a web designer is not a business strategist. 

Before a designer starts working, or before you even consider hiring a designer, you need to properly identify the purpose of your website

It’s easy to see how a SaaS business that operates fully online will require a different website than, say, a local coffee shop. In order to properly define your website’s purpose, you should answer the following questions:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. How will they use the website (for information about the business, purchase, online tools, etc.)?
  3. Do you need a website or a landing page? A company website includes all the relevant background information about your business, and a landing page focuses on a single call to action.

Content creation 

While the design is without any doubt critical for the success of any website, without SEO it definitely won’t rank well in search engine results. Meaning, potential clients won’t even have the chance to discover your beautiful website.

Before the website can actually be designed, designers need to have all the copy at their disposal. You can of course make small changes, but adding or removing large blocks of text can disrupt the balance and layout, and require the designer to start all over.

Creating the content for the website is the job of digital marketing teams, as these professionals will have the knowledge of relevant search engine optimization techniques and industry trends which need to be included in the web design. 

Site development

Just in case you might be wondering about this, most UX/UI designers aren’t developers; meaning that while they are in charge of building a website, they can’t actually get it to work.

Web development requires knowledge of coding languages such as CSS or HTML, and there are specific professionals who do this, called web developers.

Since web development is more of a technical, and less of a creative process, expect to pay less for this part of the process than web design. If you require a very simple website (without things like web apps, dynamic content etc.), you can find affordable development services on many freelancing platforms.

Testing and maintenance

Nowadays, you can’t just launch your website and expect prospective customers to find you. 

Regular updating of your website primarily means content marketing, which helps to improve search engine ranking. Still, there are technical details that you need to stay on top of, such as broken or outdated links, software updates, mobile responsiveness, security and backup, and more.

As you might suspect, most of these tasks fall into the responsibilities of the development/tech team members. Of course, a lot of the time (especially with content creation), you will need the assistance of a web designer. 

Where to find web designers?

We hope this answers your question “what does a web design agency do” and any confusion about web designer responsibilities. Still, there is more than one way to get your web design project done. 

If you have a generous budget, you can hire a web design agency. Although you will still need to provide some guidance, these professionals will handle most of the work around project management, the creation and launch of your site.

Hiring a freelance designer is generally less expensive. Still, the cost of web design can sometimes be unpredictable with this route. Website design is a complex project, so multiple revisions and additional working hours can rack up quickly.

If you have a bit of design skill yourself, there are numerous great website builders that allow you to create your own website, often for free! The downside of this approach (aside from the time you’ll spend designing your website) is that it’s easy to end up with a website that doesn’t look original or doesn’t match your brand identity.

Finally, if you want to get a custom website for an unbeatable price, you should check out our unlimited web design service. For as little as $549 per month you can get your website designed, as well as graphics for different purposes: illustrations, social media, and more! 

Get started today or get in touch with us to ask any questions!

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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