Common Web Design Challenges Designers Face
Web design has its own fair share of web design challenges and still evolving rapidly. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in the entire web design process.
Web design concepts and practices have evolved extremely over the past 30 years. With the advanced HTML5 and CSS3 features and the modern web design tools and frameworks used in the development process, we are now experiencing one of the most innovative ecstatic expansions and efficient technologies. With all of the benefits of the new web design features, tools, frameworks, and practices, one thing remains constant: web design will always persist in being a form of communication medium for whatever niche you are trying to promote online, be it personal or business goals.
In the early days of development, most website designs are dominated by built-in website tables-format and boxy styles. Back then, there were only a few browsers that you could use to view your websites, such as the Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which became a hot topic for the first browser war in the usage share of web browsers during the late 1990s. Furthermore, search engines are also not a thing until later.
Even though the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) was introduced in 1996, it did not immensely affect the design process and how you can control design elements until 2010. With the subsequent rise in popularity of HTML5 and CSS3, web designers and developers significantly benefited from the enormous new technology, including proprietary tags, selectors, and modern development practices. Even more, the web development community has found ways to standardize targeting different screen sizes through CSS media queries and other modern CSS features to solve some of the common web design challenges on different devices, especially during the mobile revolution where mobile users are often visiting websites. These rules and standards started with the introduction of the responsive web design concept.
The term responsive web design was first introduced by Ethan Marcotte an independent web designer based in Boston, Massachusetts who wrote the article Responsive Web Design in 2010, where he discusses different web application architectures and some of the biggest challenges in modern web design.
This is a term used to define the way a browser responds to its environment. The concept of responsive web design covers the web design practices of making websites that respond to the user's behavior on various aspects, including screen size, platform, and even orientation across various devices (desktop, tablet, and mobile). Websites built with modern responsive web design conform their layouts to fluid grids, web page contents, and CSS media queries to polish essential elements that may break in specific breakpoints.
By all means, the concept of responsive web design did not solve all web design challenges. There are various other concerns when designing and developing a website, and one could lead to another.
The Goals of Web Design
Developing and designing modern, effective websites and web apps requires rational design principles along with underlying practices, tools, and technologies (such as frameworks or programming languages) to deliver the best possible UI and UX experience in the way users expect it to behave.
Before you can build well-designed websites, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of design. An effective website design should create ecstatic experiences and fulfill its intended purpose or function to make people's lives easier. It's also important to note that good web design should communicate a message while engaging visitors or customers in the best possible way, which most site owners or builders often neglect when going through the design process. This includes utilizing several design elements, including consistency, typography, colors, images, and functionalities that affect the overall website goal.
For example, in an e-commerce website, a well-designed store should help customers find products easily by categorizing, filtering, and organizing them so that users won't take too much time before they can choose and purchase a product.
Whatever niche or business type of website you are trying to design and build, it is important for a web designer and developer to take the time to plan every detail of the website using the available resources, discipline, and skills that can be used in the design process. Additionally, the web designer should organize and categorize certain types of information when designing a website to provide some pragmatic meaning to each part while making it as visually attractive as possible.
To be precise, below are some of the common end-goals of web design that are worth mentioning:
- Increase Revenue. One of the primary goals of web design is to convert leads into sales and visitors to repeat customers. All of your web design efforts will mean nothing if you are not profiting from them, especially if you run an online business. Whether you are selling products in your e-commerce store or want to gain followers, taking profit from your website is likely your most popular website goal.
- Improve Search Engine Visibility. In the internet age, most website visitors come from search engines. If your web design doesn't consider search engine optimization in its design process, such as utilizing page links, improving site load time, using the right tech stack to build your site, and other design elements that can impact your website performance, you are losing a lot of prospects from search engines. Popular search engines such as Google and Bing rank the best-optimized website to provide users only the most relevant search results. * Build Strong Website Branding. Web designers are expected to create a go-to authority website under a specific niche to market the website effortlessly. A unique brand personality that customers or users trust will set businesses apart from the competition. Having strong branding nurtures loyalty and trust.
- Automate/Streamline Process. Every web design and development outcome should be user-friendly to help users or customers save time and make their lives easier. With the proper practices, tools, and technologies, a website can automate processes such as quickly finding products through categories, providing the appropriate navigation, and an easy login/signup process through multi factor authentication.
What is the most challenging part of creating a website?
The most challenging part of web design is its consistency. Your web design is always at the mercy of each user's platform, browser, and screen resolution. Your website might look good on your end but look ghastly on another user's machine. The user's machine environment can have its own distinctive user preferences such as color, fonts, and the like, but the display resolution plays a large part in web design provocations.
In this part of the article, we will go through each of the most common challenges in web design and look at how we can solve them through modern web design practices and tools.
List of Common Web Design Challenges
Web design has its own fair share of unique challenges as it's still improving and evolving rapidly. In the field of web design, we're quickly getting to the point of being unable to keep up with the endless innovation. This is a crucial thing to understand. With all the innovation happening on mobile devices, tablets, desktops, smartphones, and other consumer electronics that can access the web, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in the entire web design process.
Nonetheless, web designers do not need to reinvent the wheel to solve these common challenges in the web design industry. However, recognizing these challenges will help you build a better and more efficient website in the long run.
Below is the list of the most common web design challenges that web designers and developers face and some recommended solutions to overcome them and improve your skills and workflow.
1. Creating efficient, responsive websites
Most web designers would agree that the website's responsiveness is the biggest key web design challenges in the industry, especially when trying to target a variety of screen resolutions and orientations. Designing and building a website version for each type of device would be impossible, impractical, and a misguided view.
According to Oberlo.com, 58.26% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices as of May 2022. With the continuously booming mobile and desktop/TV screen market, people can now access the web anytime and anywhere with a simple tap from their pocket. From visiting media-based websites to checking reviews and ordering products online, the internet no longer requires you to be limited to the four corners of your computer. This leads to an increase in complexity when designing websites for different viewports and devices.
Recommended Solution: To cope with the different screen resolutions and orientations, it is recommended to make every website element flexible by using fluid grids, fluid images, and applying the best possible markup and CSS as needed, as advised by Ethan Marcotte. With the introduction of Flexbox and CSS grids, using their dynamic arrangement features, you can change the behavior of each design element according to the kind of device displaying them and its current orientation in a one or two-dimensional layout. Additionally, CSS media queries would help you apply different styles for media types/devices. While it's not a 100% bullet-proof fix, the solution gives you far more control over your web design elements.
2. Making websites cross-browser compatible
The major browsers on the internet at the time of this writing are Google Chrome, Apple's Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Each of these browsers has its own way of interpreting HTML, CSS, and scripting elements. New features and support can improve the functionalities of modern browsers, but that doesn't imply that the older browsers will not be in use even though the company that built them cuts its support, especially on outdated machines.
According to Oberlo.com, Google's Chrome is the most used internet browser in the world, with a global market share of 64.91%. While you might be tempted just to design your website for chrome, it is counterintuitive as users' preferences may vary from different demographics and needs. Additionally, your web design may work perfectly fine on some browsers but might break on some. As a web designer and developer, you cannot let your browser bias take a toll on your design process, as browser type affects the entire website's creativity and efficiency.
Lastly, it is vital to perform cross-browser testing before putting your website into production to ensure that your website works across an acceptable number of web browsers. Remember that you are not your users, so always consider how your website will look in all browsers.
3. Improving Website Speed / Load Times
Optimizing website performance is not an optional feature to be included in your web design process but rather a necessity in modern website production as it affects your page speed, user experience, and overall search engine visibility. With the rising internet speed nowadays, users can now access different website content like never before, making most websites increase in available bandwidth.
However, with the increasing bandwidth comes a major problem as the average website's file size increases. The more a website's size increases, the slower it loads. The slower the website responds, the less engagement it gets.
In fact, 40% of visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load, according to Kissmetrics. This means that people's impatience affect your website's bounce rate, which can have a tremendous effect on conversion rates too. This also conveys that your website is less effective and will likely have a lower chance of ranking well on major search engines.
Recommended Solution: To improve page speed/load time, it's important to understand how the speed metrics work and the factors affecting them.
Below are some steps web designers and developers can take in the web design process and make a website faster:
- Choose a better hosting solution. The hosting provider plays a vital role in the website's performance and management. Dedicated hosting will help you speed up your website no matter when or what part of the world it's visiting or viewing.
- Optimize your images. While graphics made the web it is today, a web designer should learn how to compress or optimize images. Graphics contribute to the time it takes for a website to load, which can have some significant download times. By reducing graphics file size, you can decrease the website's weight, leading to a faster speed/load time.
- Use Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDN can help you improve your website speed by adding content cache on your files that are being loaded in the host close to your user's location and not from your own hosting, which can add weight to your website file size.
- Remove unused files and codes. Unused files and codes can affect your website load times by increasing the size of the files your website needs to load, which leads to longer download time. The more files and codes the browser needs to evaluate, the more it will slow down the rendering time.
4. Composing effective UI and UX
UI and UX are terms often used synonymously but have different definitions. However, both shares the proposition of how the user will interact with the website. With the rapid innovation of design trends, web designers often face challenges considering the UI and UX when designing a website.
UI stands for "User Interface Design," referring to the website's look and feel, including its creative presentation and interactivity. This includes designing components or sections of a website to attract users and provide value to the website's overall efficiency. On the other hand, UX stands for "User Experience," which covers all factors of the end-user and website interaction.
Composing UI and UX is not an easy task which can ruin the website's brand and integrity if not done well.
Recommended Solution: UI and UX are both complex topics. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach and steps to create a perfect UI, using a UI style guide for your brand will help you smoothly transition to crucial design components of your website. Documenting design-related elements and interfaces such as typography schemes, color palettes, icons, and buttons will speed up the process. Additionally, using online tools to design your UI, such as Figma and Adobe XD will allow you to visualize live elements that operate as they would in the final output.
Lastly, it's important always to keep it straightforward. Always be clear and concise with your UX writing to easily lead your website users to move forward in the user flow as intended. Remember to be consistently conversational and ensure that users understand what you want them to do.
5. Making websites secure
Website security has been one of the main concerns of every web designer and developer for ages. The problem with website security is that while it is essential to the design and development process, it's also a very complex topic. Since the evolution of dynamic websites, many security threats have been reported, including network attacks, SQL injections, or a user's data being taken and used for malicious purposes. Data is one of the most essential resources in a business. Once modified, stolen, or deleted can lead to profound business loss.
According to OWASP, the top ten web security vulnerability in 2022 includes broken access control, cryptographic failures, injections, insecure design, security misconfigurations, and software and data integrity failures. While these security threats can be overwhelming, you can still secure your website by making security issues coherent to your users.
Recommended Solution: There is no such thing as bullet-proof security. However, there are some things you can do as a web designer to keep your website safe, including:
- Choose a reliable host. An established host will take care of your website security. The level of security may vary, especially if it subscribes to advanced features such as web application firewall (WAF) and denial-of-service (DDoS) protection.
- Sanitize input data. Apply the concept of "input filtering" or "sanitizing input" to strip out unsafe HTML characters.
- Add validation on input data. Adding validation to use input will prevent them from entering any improper formed data entering your database.
- Include SSL. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates provide an extra layer of security to your website whenever you request information from your user.
- Set an automatic backup. No one knows when security attacks might happen, and some unexpected factors could lead to server failure. Having an automatic backup gives you the peace of mind that when uncertain things happen, you can always restore your website files promptly.
As web design experts, it is essential to understand the key web design challenges to help you build an efficient website. When designing websites, more unique challenges may arise and a series of design principles may need to be learned. Although web design is a progressing field, web designers should not reinvent the wheel but adopt modern solutions to each problem and challenge that might emerge.
Always remember that the best-designed website is the one that satisfies the user's expectations, is user-friendly, solves problems, and meets the objective of the brand and its owner, whether it's an individual, organization, or business.
Updated: May 31, 2023