Website Design

If you’re a WordPress user, you might be wondering why you even need to hire a web designer. After all, many themes come with customization built in. It’s easy to throw together a functional WordPress site in an afternoon, so why bother spending the money?

We are passionate about everything we create and understand who our target audience is. Our designers work closely with our client success managers and developers when managing content workflows for site visitors, creating wireframes. We want your site visitors to have a user friendly experience whether they are using a phone, tablet or laptop. Using growth driven design, our creative team will help attract, convert and retain leads for your marketing pipeline.

Brand Strategy

It’s more than your website looking good – it needs to be on brand, function efficiently, and allow users to easily navigate to find the content they need.

Responsive Design

Whether the user is on their laptop or using their phone, they’re going to have a good experience with a well designed responsive website.

Graphic Design

We can create web design elements or incorporate your branding into a new page template or full website build with professional illustrations.

Why Do You Need Web Design Services?

If you’re a WordPress user, you might be wondering why you even need to hire a web designer. After all, many themes come with customization built in. It’s easy to throw together a functional WordPress site in an afternoon, so why bother spending the money?

While it’s true that you’re totally capable of making your own site, there’s quite a lot that goes into professional web design. Choosing palettes, making mockups, optimizing user experience, and knowing how to put everything together in a way that makes a statement are skills an expert designer is trained in.

Web design isn’t just a matter of feeling it out and putting elements on the page until it looks okay. Great web design is a whole artistic process, and it takes talent and experience to pull it off effectively. With a professional agency, you’ll be able to truly bring your idea to life on the screen.

If you want to create a site that makes an impact on visitors, and you aren’t sure how to do it by yourself, you should hire a web design company.

What is Web Design?

Do you know who’s responsible for the way sites look and feel? The answer is web designers. A specialized field of graphic design, web design focuses on creating webpages and web apps using visual and interactive technology. It encompasses several sub-types including UI and UX design.

You might be surprised at just how much goes into a beautiful website. They’re made up of color palettes, typography, user interface, animations, layout arrangements, and more — that’s just a piece of the puzzle. Each of these elements needs to be carefully considered, chosen, and tested. There’s a careful process for each one.

It’s also the job of a web designer to speak with clients and draft up a plan that encompasses their vision. They need organizational and communication skills as well as ability in graphic design.

Web designers primarily focus on aesthetics. They work hand-in-hand with web developers, who make everything function using CSS, HTML, and Javascript.

Web, UX, and UI Design

So web designers create websites, but what about all the others? The main sub-types of web design are UX and UI design, and they both do very different things.

While other types tend to base their creations solely on appearance, the UX (user experience) designer’s job is to make them user-friendly. Websites aren’t just visual, they’re interactive. And a bad interactive experience leaves as large a negative impression as a bad visual design.

UX specialists ensure that a website doesn’t just look good, it works seamlessly and is well organized. They do all the behind-the-scenes work, from designing the basic wireframes to site hierarchy graphs.

UI (user interface) specialists are just the opposite. Their focus is solely on visuals, and they select palettes, typography, and other visual aspects. UX designers make it feel good, and UI designers make it look good.

“Web designer” is often a job title for UI designers, or those who are good at a little bit of everything — UI, UX, graphic design, and maybe even a little programming. They work with UI/UX specialists to refine their creations.

Graphic designers also play a huge part. These are the pure artists; they make your logo, interface elements, and any other artistic assets. A web designer can usually create some digital assets, but a specialized web graphic designer will be much more refined.

What is Responsive Design?

When the internet first started gaining in popularity, there was only one type of device that could use the internet: A computer. That made web design easy, since you knew what your site would look like for pretty much everyone.

In the early 2000s, tablets and mobile phones became more common. They could sometimes connect to the internet, but navigating on the tiny screens was extremely difficult. As smartphones and more refined tablets were released, the world began to shift to the mobile internet, and there was a push for design that was friendlier for smaller devices.

At first, the solution to this was to create separate mobile sites. Then, pages would adapt to the most common screen sizes; this was called adaptive design, and while it worked at times, users with uncommon screen resolutions were left with a broken website.

Thanks to new technology, web designers can now create totally responsive websites: pages that adapt fluidly to any screen size, no matter how large or small.

The way responsive design works is by placing content in a series of boxes, or grids. These grids stretch and shrink as necessary to fluidly adapt to various screen sizes. Images resize or get replaced as well. With this simple principle, you have a responsive website. No more having to deal with separate mobile and desktop sites.

Why Do You Need Responsive Design?

Nearly one third of the human population owns a smartphone, and a vast majority of Americans do as well. One in five Americans only accesses the internet through a smartphone, and never uses a desktop computer at all. By now, more people are using phones than computers.

If you’re designing only for computers, you’re alienating a huge audience. Smartphone users aren’t going to deal with a website that doesn’t work properly on their phone. They’re going to leave and find a site that does work. And with the widespread adoption of responsiveness, it won’t be difficult.

Mobile-first is now the web standard. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, your users will leave you for someone who does.

That’s why we design all our websites to work on mobile devices and adapt seamlessly to screen size. Anything less just isn’t good enough for our clients.

Web Design and Branding

Branding is a crucial part of owning a business. Your brand is your personality — without one, your business is bland and forgettable. But an attention-grabbing personality is something customers will remember for a long time.

What’s in a brand? Branding is partially your style and tone. Are you cheerful, elegant, classy, serious, helpful? How do you speak to your customers, and how does your business present itself? Branding is the audience you target, and what type of content you create for them. And branding is how your business looks; the colors associated with it, its logo, and even its typography.

A good brand takes the form of a memorable persona, or a strong feeling evoked when someone thinks of your business.

Your website is an extension of your brand. It should reflect your tone, existing visual design, and core values. That comes into play everywhere from the color palette you choose to the content presented.

Should an elegant fashion shop be filled with bouncy button animations and a bright, childish palette? Or the blog of an upbeat world traveler designed with drab colors and bold, serious fonts? Of course not. A website should accurately reflect your brand.

When you choose a web designer, they should understand branding and work with you to create an accurate depiction of your business’ identity.

The Web Design Process

All design projects between a client and agency begin with a discussion. Together you’ll decide the scope of your project and the goals you want to accomplish with your new website. You might bring up your branding style guide if you have one, or decide on a target audience and some general ways you want your site to look.

At this stage, you’ll decide on overall appearance, what pages you’re creating, and the project deadline. You might also brainstorm a web style guide with typography and colors if you don’t already have one for your brand.

After this, the designers will begin creating basic wireframes and sitemaps, followed by fleshed-out mockups for each page. You’ll be able to give your feedback every step of the way, until every revision is approved.

This process can take weeks or months, depending on how long revisions take and the size of the project’s scope.

From there, the process transitions to web development as the devs begin coding and making these designs function as a website. Soon enough, you’ll have a fully usable site ready for publishing.

What if You Have an Existing Website?

If your old website isn’t converting users, it might be time to try something new. A shiny new redesign might be just what you need to get out of your rut and get things running again.

The process is much the same whether you have an existing site or not. During the project outlining phase, you’ll be able to discuss what you like about the old design, and what you definitely want to trash.

The main concern here is moving everything you want to keep over. Content will need to be saved and copied, and if you’re purchasing a new domain, old links redirected to prevent 404s. Any content that doesn’t quite fit anymore will need to be repurposed, which is a job for the copywriters.

At DC Dev Shop, we can help you create the perfect website whether you’re starting from scratch or have an existing site.

How to Choose a Web Design Agency

Once you’ve made the decision to hire a web design agency, you now have the monumental task of choosing from the hundreds of WordPress design companies out there. It’s certainly not an easy choice with such a large variety of agencies, so make sure to look for these key traits.

Design Know-How

Of course, the designers you hire should know what they’re talking about and how to create an amazing website. They should have clear methodologies for their design process, and show the ability to craft a great user experience.

A design agency’s website is its own portfolio, so take a look at it and any client websites they may have linked to in their testimonials. Do you like what you see? Are they beautiful, dynamic, and fitting for the brand? If so, this may be the company for you.

A Clear Process

It’s important to find an agency willing to communicate. It’s no good to hire someone who gives you no chance to offer feedback, doesn’t work with your vision, and just sends you a generic completed product after a week.

The best companies go through a clear step-by-step process, starting with a discussion about what you’re looking for in this design, and with plenty of chances to give feedback on each revision.

Anything less, and the company may be thinking less about providing you with a website that will help you grow, and more about just getting it done as quickly as possible.

Branding Tie-Ins

Good agencies don’t just make you a generic website; they tailor their creations to your brand. They know that the way your site looks and feels has a direct impact on your conversions, and the tone of your content should match how your business presents itself.

A white, minimalistic website has a very different tone from a bright and colorful site, or a dark and serious one, and picking the wrong design choices for your target audience can do serious damage. Your agency should be able to help you figure out what’s right for you, work with any existing brand guidelines you have, and craft the perfect site to fit your unique company.

Follows Web Standards

This ties more into web development, but it will have an effect on the design phase as well. The agency you choose should understand the standards for HTML/CSS/Javascript coding (including the unique WordPress standards), accessibility, and mobile responsiveness. 

In the initial phases, your designers should take these into consideration. They’ll help you create a website that can be used by disabled visitors, and ensure that any elements you want to include will adapt seamlessly to any screen size.

You should ensure that the designers and developers in the agency you choose adhere to these guidelines. Accessibility and responsiveness don’t just impact your SEO; they tremendously improve user experience.

Let's Work Together

We are the leading  WordPress focused development shop in the D.C. area, working with brands to attract and retain clients by leveraging web technologies and inbound marketing methodologies.

Don't be shy, drop us a line. Whether you are aiming to launch a new website yourself or want to hire a team of experts to build a custom site, we'd love to hear from you.