This article has been contributed by Stephanie Norman.
If you tried to master web design on your own, you would inevitably get into stressful situations. Successful web designers don’t rely solely upon their own skills and efforts; they also learn from other people’s experience.
Clearly, all masters of this trade have secrets they are not willing to share, but their practices and products speak for themselves.
If you want come anywhere near to perfect design, you need to improve your skills on different levels. It doesn’t matter whether you are a veteran designer or you just started discovering the finesses; you can always implement the following 10 tips to become better at what you do.
1. Follow tutorials!
Seriously, you can never get bored of tutorials. Web designers always have new things to learn, so they need to keep in touch with reality. You cannot become better if you ignore the trends and decide that what you know is good enough. When you want to try a new program or add a new feature into your design, following a tutorial is the best way of boosting your skills. Set a goal to learn something new each month. Make sure to master the new skills you obtain; you don’t want to be superficial.
Of course, reading and watching tutorials is not enough. You need to follow the lead, practice a lot, and implement the things you learn in your own designs.
2. Learn from an expert’s experience!
You always need to be aware of the current trends in the design niche. That’s why you need to follow good blogs, join thematic forums, and examine the design of popular websites, posters, magazines, games, etc. If you isolate yourself from the online community of web designers, you’ll miss out on tons of opportunities to become better at what you do.
When you run into an outstanding design, analyze it to the tiniest detail. What makes it so great? A single look at a page designed by an expert can change your own approach towards the project you’re working on. Do not forget to read blogs! They give you ideas, insights, tutorials, and inspiration that can turn you into a better designer!
3. Use a sketchbook!
This is a classic tool that every designer needs. When you need to organize a concept and get new ideas, you just grab your sketchbook and start designing as your inspiration flows. Tablets also enable you to sketch easily, but the feeling of creating a design on paper is irreplaceable. This technique can improve your achievements through the brainstorming stage, so the overall designing process will be more effective.
4. Try the squint test!
From all that time you spend in front of a computer screen, your senses may become blurred. Have you ever tried stepping away and taking a look with your eyes partly closed? That’s the reaction your eyes respond with when your vision is affected by strong light and you’re trying to see things more clearly. When you squint few times, only the prominent aspects of your design will be visible. That will give you a clear understanding of the focal points.
5. Simplify the navigation through your design
Complex web design may seem appealing at first sight, but it’s definitely not something a random visitor wants to deal with. If you infuse too many options, you would achieve a counter effect: instead of simplifying the user’s experience, you’ll overwhelm him by making everything busy. The last thing a user wants is to lose time in the attempt to find what he needs.
Try this experiment: remove the dropdown menus and reduce the number of links in the sidebar or header of the website.
6. Add high-quality images!
Any low-resolution image makes you look like an amateur. There are more than enough top-quality images you can choose from in order to achieve an alluring effect. Don’t go for the cheap (or even worse – free) stock photos that can be seen on hundreds of other websites. You can either hire a professional photographer or purchase the copyrights of the greatest, most relevant images you locate online.
If you have an eye for photography, then you can get a nice camera and add make the design even more personal.
7. Black, white and gray should be your starting point!
The best way to start a design is with shades of grey. Then, you can gradually move towards color. This approach enables you to create a design that focuses the viewer’s attention on the most important points.
A grayscale visual design with carefully-positioned pops of color will prevent the effect of an overdesigned page.
8. Use simple tools to create site samples
When you need to create a quick prototype of a page, you don’t need to complicate things with Photoshop and other time-consuming tools. You can usePowerPointorKeynoteto create samples. Not every stage of your progress has to be a work of Photoshop art. When you simplify your approach, you’ll immediately become more productive.
9. Avoid slideshows and carousels
This type of content seems suitable when you want to feature a lot of information on a single page. However, it’s not what the audience prefers. Most of your visitors won’t stay long enough on the page to get all details you want to serve. If the title and images are not completely relevant to the message that got them onto the page, your visitors will be really frustrated. When you want to get someone’s attention, it’s enough to deliver what you promised and get rid of the irrelevant content.
10. Take care of the ‘fold’!
This is the website’s section that’s visible even when the visitor scrolls down. You need it for the sake of simplifying the navigation, but you must invest tons of effort in the fold’s design if you want to use its entire potential.
You want maximum exposure for the main points of your menu and the calls to action, so you should feature them above the fold. That’s how they will immediately grab the visitor’s attention.
Constant Work and Progress – That’s the Recipe for Success!
Web design is a flexible category. There is always something new to learn and try. The 10 tips above will give you a starting point, but you need to understand that the success you achieve will be in direct proportion to your level of commitment.
Stephanie Norman from Sydney has been a professional writer for 4 years already. Also, she is works as content marketing specialist and web designer in Australian Writings, a company that offers assignment help for students. You can follow her at Facebook and Google+.