There are almost two billion websites on the Internet. If you see similarities between certain websites, it is because some use prepared template designs. These are downloadable website templates where the layout and structure have already been established.

Although this is a fast, easy, and convenient way to put up a website, it misses a very important element of effective design: Uniqueness.

The challenge for professional web designers is to conceptualize a design that is unique to its owner. Everything must come-together or align in website design. A business is an organization of people who share core values and a common vision to what the future may hold.

Design should embody; not distinguish the business and its owner. Its elements should represent the owner and support the purpose, objectives, message, and overall vision of the business.

Our Design Process At Mountaintop Web Design

At Mountaintop Web Design, we like to think of ourselves as artists and scientists. We explore the boundaries of creativity through artistic expression. However, at the same time, we respect the rules and precision of web design science. There are theories, guidelines, and principles of web design that we use as the basis for implementing artistic concepts.

We conduct research before initiating the formal design process. Research is categorized into two areas: empirical and intuitive.

Empirical Research

Under empirical research, we gather facts, relevant information, updated data, and other forms of usable and measurable inputs on the type of business and industry. We also implement best practices of web design which likewise, includes its own research. These principles go into each and every website we build.

Once we have a deeper understanding of the nature of the enterprise, we do a comparative analysis of the industry. This includes looking at the websites of the client’s closest competitors. We take note of design elements and similarities in content.

We also look through the competitors’ social media accounts. We want to see if there is alignment or some congruence between its design elements and those of the website.

Intuitive Research

Intuitive research is focused on the person behind the client. This is similar to a bank’s KYC or Know Your Customer approach. We want to know who the client is. What is his/her purpose? How did he/she get into this type of business? What are the motivating factors?

Our objective is to capture the essence of the client. His/ her personality should manifest on every page of the website. Its elements should reflect the client. When a visitor views the design and reads the content, he/she should have an accurate idea on who the business owner is.

Elements such as the use of color, spaces, angles, lines, and content will give site visitors clues on the type of person the owner is. Based on the interaction or response to the elements of design and content, the website visitor will rely on his/her intuition to formulate a profile on the business owner.

5 Popular Styles Of Web Design

There are many styles of web design. We would have to write an e-book to give you a complete rundown of every style that can be used for designing websites. Fortunately, we are not writing a textbook.

The purpose of writing this article is to give you an idea of how the design process works. It will give you a better understanding of what a professional web designer does and how to work with him/her when coming up with your own site.

In this section, we will discuss five of the most popular styles of web design. Then we will proceed to our own approach in designing websites for clients.

1. Illustrative Style

The Illustrative style of web design is highly visual in presentation. It uses drawing as the primary tool for design. We have graphic designers and artists who can come up with drawings or renditions based on an exchange of ideas with the business owner.

Renditions are visual expressions or concepts which the team believes best captures the message of the website. Creating design renditions for the Illustrative design is a close collaborative process with the client. We encourage the client to throw ideas on the design table.

As professional web designers, we incorporate principles of design to finalize the concept. Oftentimes, the client may have a different idea. Part of our job is to take the client through the design process so that he/she will get a better understanding of the principles of web design. This is how creative differences are resolved.

The final design is the one which the client feels accurately represents the business and at the same time stays within the parameters of effective web design techniques.

2. Single Page Style

The Single Page approach to web design is often confused with the Illustrative because it uses a rendition or depiction of a concept as the main design element. It can be colorful or simple. It could be vibrant or subdued.

Its overall purpose is to simplify web design. The structure is very simple and easy to navigate. You won’t find much text content on the Homepage as the focus remains on the image.

The Single Page style carries the same risk as the Illustrative in that the message of the design may not resonate with the site visitor right away. An image can look visually appealing but if used for symbolic purposes, its meaning may get lost in translation.

These styles of web design may work from an aesthetic standpoint. However, from a functional or messaging standpoint, the use of symbolic images may not deliver the desired results. That is why we do not actively recommend these styles to our clients.

We caution clients who prefer this style of design to exercise caution when it comes to the use of images as metaphors or symbolism.  As much as possible, the design concept should provide visual signals that make it easier for site visitors to understand what the business is all about; who the owners are, what they do, their purpose and vision. The content should resonate immediately with the viewer.

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3. Minimalist

Have you ever come across a website where the Homepage looks like an abstract painting? How about a website where it seems like you just landed on a maze? Outside of getting a migraine or feeling like a laboratory mouse, these designs have so much going on that its purpose and functionality are lost.

The Minimalist style removes all the clutter so all that remains are the essential elements, features, concepts, and forms. This type of design is very easy on the eyes. Good examples of the Minimalist style are websites that greatly use space. You see only black and white colors. Orientation is very clean and organized.

The Minimalist design is popular because it acts as a counterbalance to the chaos on the Internet. There is information overload; run a search query and you scroll through hundreds and thousands of websites. The Minimalist works because it focuses only on your central message.

4. Flat Web Design

If you’ve come across the Microsoft website, you’ll have a good idea of what Flat Web Design is. This style of web design combines minimalism with usability. It attempts to clear out unnecessary elements and just focus on items that greatly support usability and functionality.

Advocates of Flat Web Design typically use a combination of space with bright or dominant colors as defining areas of references. Overall design remains clean; the addition of colors with sharper hues creates better distinction among the other elements.

When we implement the Flat Web Design approach, we want the design to be prominent but not to the point that it detracts from the purpose of the website. Navigability should never be compromised.

5. Typographical

There is a good reason why recruiters generally reject resumes that are prepared using the Comic Sans font. You just won’t be taken seriously. Recruiters will always recommend Calibri, Cambria, Helvetica, and the over-used but still popular Arial.

The type of font you use is a design element that can successfully make or break your message. It triggers an emotional cue and an ensuing response. Used properly with image and text- based content, the typographical style can help you deliver a powerful and compelling story.

The drawback with the Typographic style is that it may slow down loading time. This is especially true when using mobile devices.

Mountaintop Web Design’s Approach To Web Design

Our underlying principle in web design is that best practices must always be implemented. Best practices in web design are those tried and true elements that have been proven to work. In this sense, we approach all of our clients in a similar same way. We can apply any style of web design that the client wants and which we feel strongly supports the purpose and objectives of the website.

However, our approach never veers off from the standard guidelines for effective web design:

  • The website must be mobile-responsive. Design should be able to set up seamlessly and effortlessly on mobile devices regardless of screen size. It should be accessible by large groups of people.
  • The website should have fast download speed. Our years of experience working with different clients and studying various industries have shown us that consumers are impatient. Our target is to make sure the client’s website can be accessed within 3 seconds.
  • Design should be optimized. Even if you have the best images and text content, these would have little value to your website if they cannot be found. We implement the principles of SEO or Search Engine Optimization to make sure all images and text-based content can be easily searched, found, and indexed by web crawlers.
  • Reliable security measures should be in place. We understand the value of a website for your business. Thus, we make sure all of our websites are built with the latest versions of the best security software. We also conduct regular site audits to run updates on plug-ins and address other issues that may present vulnerabilities to its security.

Case Study: Severe Weather Shelter

Severe Weather Shelter Network New website

We designed this website for a non-profit ministry. The objective of our design approach was to strongly highlight the services of the ministry. This was effectively done through the use of relevant images, the organization of the site, and the layout which were proprietary to the ministry.

The overall effect of the design was to deliver a clear message that was powerful and urgent, yet sincere and simplistic in tone and content.

The design gives website visitors an accurate idea on who the ministry is, what they do, how they operate, and helps them gain a deeper understanding of their objective. As we mentioned earlier, website design must represent the purpose and vision of the business.  

In this case, the purpose of the ministry is covered by the question , “Why did the ministry set up this organization?” The images, use of color, space, and layout, emphasize the ministry’s intent to help people in need.

We integrated the use of these provocative images with real statistics in order to compel the visitor into action. It certainly helped increase the number of donations and contributions to the ministry.

With the ideal design elements in place, our biggest challenge became the donation platform. We wanted to make sure it was easy and secure for people to use. Fortunately, we were able to implement the right platform for them and to date, the ministry continues to receive donations through its website.

If you are planning to have a website for your business or if you are thinking of having your current website re-designed, please feel free to give us a call or an email.

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Graphic design is an important component of marketing and sales. It’s objective is to create designs that inspire, inform and fascinate consumers. Ad campaigns start out by defining the message or the business’ value proposition. This is the main selling point of the product or service. The job of the Graphic Designer is to translate the message into images that will entice the consumer to patronize your product or the service over your competitors.

6 Great Qualities You Should Look For In A Graphic Designer

  1. Aspires to be a constant learner;
  2. Embraces criticism as part of the creative process;
  3. Open to different sources of inspiration;
  4. Pushes the boundaries of creativity by exploring outside the comfort zone;
  5. A good listener and articulates ideas clearly for effective communication;
  6. Conducts work in a professional manner.

Why Graphic Design Is Important For Business

Visual content is a powerful vehicle for marketing because by nature, people are attracted to great-looking images. What would push you to eat a slice of decadent chocolate cake: a written description or a high- resolution image? A study by MDG Advertising showed that content with images are viewed 94% more than those without.

Businesses both big and small need great graphic designers. Take a look at those multi-million dollar Hollywood movies. They definitely look nice on your bedroom wall but the movie posters are an important part of the film company’s marketing campaign.

The posters are used to officially launch a movie because they help generate buzz and create more excitement. The marketing team will go through a number of designs before deciding on which concept to use.

Likewise, small business owners use graphic designers to come up with marketing collateral that will encourage more sales. If you were looking for a place to eat, you would probably choose the restaurant with the most appetizing and captivating food shots on the windows.

The Role Of Graphic Designers In Website Design

In website design, we use graphic designers to come up with concepts that best represent the branding strategy of the client. This is especially important for the Homepage where site visitors land after clicking the link.

A report by Pew Research showed that the Homepage was the most viewed page for 84% of the websites studied. For some of the websites in the study, the Homepage accounted for 60% to 79% of their traffic.

We would like to compare the Homepage to a storefront window. This is where site visitors get a glimpse of what the client has to offer. If it is true that humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, then we have fewer than eight seconds to pique the interest of the site visitor.

At Mountaintop, we work with great graphic designers who can get the client’s message across right away. It is not an easy task as we have to consider both functionality and aesthetics in the design process. We want our websites to feature amazing, breathtaking design without compromising usability.

The Responsibilities Of A Graphic Designer

A Graphic Designer is one-half artist and one-half scientist. They need great artistic sensibility and precision. A great Graphic Designer knows how to combine creative expression and technology.

There is more to Graphic Design work than just creating design concepts. Here is a summary of the responsibilities of a Graphic Designer:

  • Collaborates with the client, web designer and Artistic/ Creative Director in all stages of the design process particularly on the message or branding value proposition.
  • Provides client with input on the best tactics and strategies to reach the target audience.
  • Performs research on target audience; helps the client build a Buyer’s profile.
  • Learns and utilizes the best software programs to bring design concepts to life.
  • Conducts tests such as surveys to determine the effectiveness of design concepts.

Graphic design is not something you can learn from watching YouTube videos. The best ones in the business go through formal schooling. You need to have a good understanding of its fundamentals and experience applying its technical aspects to become a good Graphic Designer. Becoming a great Graphic Designer comes with experience. The more you work at it the better you get.

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6 Qualities Of A Great Graphic Designer

You can have a Graphic Designer who graduated from the best university, worked in the top firms and show the best recommendations. However, unless he/she has certain qualities or attributes, all the skills in the world may not result in your desired outcome.

Most businesses put more focus on a Graphic Designer’s hard skills. These are the technical skills learned in school and gained throughout their experience. While this is understandable, the value of soft skills or key personality attributes becomes overlooked.

Soft skills are the intangibles. These are the traits or qualities that drive the hard skills forward. What good is having top- level training if the Graphic Designer does not have the patience of working with a team? What is the value of being highly recommended if the Graphic Designer does not consider the client’s inputs?

There are many talented graphic designers. If you want to find the best one for your business, consider these qualities when hiring a Graphic Designer:

1. Constantly Learning

Early in their careers, graphic designers take to knowledge like a sponge. As they got deeper into their careers, some may become more focused just on getting paid for their profession.

The best graphic designers are those who believe they don’t know everything. Therefore, they seek to get better by constantly learning new skills and techniques. For them, every day is an opportunity to improve and excel in their craft.

This is the kind of Graphic Designer you want on your team. He/she will constantly look for ways to sharpen their skills and take your design team to a higher level.

2. Values Criticism

A Graphic Designer is tasked to manifest the message in highly visual format. Unfortunately despite all the work put in, other people may not see it that way.

Sometimes design can be subjective. What is beautiful for one person may not be the case for another. The same can be said when interpreting design because we all view images through individual filters.

It is normal to have disagreements or dissenting opinions when it comes to design. Most of the time, design revisions are just minor changes. That is why we usually go through 3 to 4 mock ups before finalizing the design.

A great Graphic Designer is one who can take the criticism and turn it into something productive. He/she is not onion-skinned and is always open to suggestions to make the design better.

3. Seeks Different Sources of Inspiration

“Creativity” is an attribute closely associated with great graphic designers. But where does creativity come from? For the best in the business, creativity is like a faucet that runs 24/7. It can strike anywhere so they have to be ready.

When assigned to develop a concept for a client, the best Graphic Designer does not get stumped. If the usual sources of inspiration are not delivering, they look for new sources.

It’s not just having a complete understanding of what the client wants and what the business is all about. Like a writer who encounters “writer’s block”, graphic designers may hit a wall on their creativity.

Look for a Graphic Designer who is resilient in finding inspiration. It’s part of the creativity process. You have to open yourself up to new stimuli because creativity itself should be allowed to flow freely.

4. Fearless! Ventures Outside the Comfort Zone

A university will give you the theoretical background and technical tools to have a deep level understanding of the fundamentals of graphic design. However, as we mentioned earlier the learning process should never stop.

Every client has different needs. The application of design fundamentals and techniques will vary from one project to the next. The great Graphic Designer will not be confined to what he/she knows. Instead, the Graphic Designer will not fear to venture outside the comfort zone to find the best design possible for the client.

All of this is tied up with the importance of being a constant learner. When you have more knowledge and tools at your disposal you have no fear of venturing into uncharted territory.

The best graphic designers know that sometimes you must take risks in order to reap greater rewards. In this case, the reward is a better and more effective design for the client.

5. Excellent Communicator

Successful marketing is all about effective delivery of the message. This is because communication is a two- way street. The message must resonate loud and clear; there must be no disconnect.

A great Graphic Designer is able to convey the message by expertly manipulating the image, text, colors, lines, angles, rhythm and lighting in his/her design. All the design elements must come together to deliver the same message.

And it’s not just in design that a great Graphic Designer shows his excellence in communication. You can see it in the way he/she interacts with the client and collaborates with the team. His/her points are well-articulated and everyone ends up always on the same page.

6. Professional

“Professionalism” is an attribute that is frequently used but often misunderstood. For graphic designers, being professional has a straightforward meaning: he/she must be focused and committed to completing the project according to timelines and guidelines.

What are the traits of a professional Graphic Designer?

  • Punctual at work and when attending meetings with the client and the design team.
  • Expert in time management; a great Graphic Designer knows how to allocate the hours in a day so he/she can consistently remain productive.
  • Regularly meets deadlines without compromising the quality of work.
  • Highly respectful and courteous to the client and everyone on the team.
  • The great Graphic Designer shares his/her opinions in a constructive manner.
  • He/she will not hesitate to seek clarification or ask questions in order to have a better idea of design requirements.

As you have read, being certified or licensed does not totally translate to becoming a professional Graphic Designer. The best one for your business is the Graphic Designer who is professional in his/her conduct of work.

Conclusion

Having a great Graphic Designer on your team will make everyone’s work so much easier. It is true that one has to undergo formal training in order to have a career as a Graphic Designer.

However, what separates the great ones from the good ones are not the technical skills and fundamental expertise but the qualities and attributes that contribute to effective graphic design. Before hiring a Graphic Designer, put time and effort in evaluating the person behind the profession.

Are you looking for a Graphic Designer to create inspiring and thought- provoking concepts for your business? Give us a call or drop us an email. We have an amazing team of graphic designers who have rendered outstanding work for several of our clients.

We would be more than happy to discuss the graphic design process with you!

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