Web Graphic Design


Graphic Design; Digital Media; Programming Language


Web graphic design is the use of graphic design techniques in designing websites. Web graphic designers must balance the marketing aspects of a website with aesthetic design criteria. They also attempt to increase the likelihood that the website will be found in search results and therefore be an effective advertising tool.



Web graphic design is a subfield of graphic design that focuses on designing for the web. It typically involves a blend of graphic design techniques and computer programming. Many websites are used as marketing materials for businesses and organizations. Consequently, web designers often incorporate business logos and other promotional materials. They also use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to increase the likelihood that the web page will be found by search engines.


Most websites, whether business, advocacy, news, or personal sites, serve as both marketing and informational tools. A website that represents a specific brand will incorporate iconic logos, logotypes, or combination marks to aid brand recognition. An iconic logo is a symbol or emblem that represents a person, business, or organization. A logotype is a company or brand name rendered in a unique or proprietary font and style. Combination marks combine icons with logotypes.

In addition to being informative, a website should be visually appealing and easy to understand. Skilled use of typography helps web designers achieve these goals. For example, while logotypes are designed to catch the eye, important information should be presented in a font that is aesthetically pleasing yet unobtrusive. A font that draws attention to itself will detract from the message of the text. Typography techniques such as this help web designers make websites easy to read and navigate.

In addition, web designers must be familiar with SEO, which relies on elements such as keywords and links to ensure that users can find a website using a search engine. SEO techniques are most effective when incorporated into the overall design of a website. As such, many web graphic designers also help users optimize their websites for better search results.

By the 2010s, web design had begun to focus on designing for the mobile web, creating websites and e-commerce sites that could be viewed and accessed using mobile devices. Many do-it-yourself (DIY) website builders started offering mobile web design templates and conversions.


Modern web design began in the 1990s, with the creation and adoption of hypertext markup language (HTML). This markup language specifies the location and appearance of objects displayed on a web page. In the mid-1990s, web designers began using HTML tables. These consist of static cells that can be arranged on a page to specify the location of text or objects. By placing tables within tables, designers could create a richer experience for websites.

A quality website design ensures that the message gets across. Good web design incorporates accessible content, provided in a visually appealing way, through strong website back-end functionality and front-end usability.

A quality website design ensures that the message gets across. Good web design incorporates accessible content, provided in a visually appealing way, through strong website back-end functionality and front-end usability.
EBSCO illustration.

In the 2010s, most web design is still based on a combination of CSS and HTML. Programming in PHP and the database server software MySQL provides options for greater flexibility and interactivity. New versions of web design languages, such as CSS4 and HTML5, offer more ways of incorporating multimedia, better support for multilingual websites, and a wider array of aesthetic options for designers.


The debut of WordPress launched a new era in DIY web graphic design. Other websites such as Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly soon began offering users the ability to design websites quickly and easily, without the need to understand programming languages. Most such sites provide users templates in the form of wireframes. Wireframes are structural layouts that specify the location of images, text, and interactive elements on a web page but are not themselves interactive. Users can then insert their own images and text and, depending on the underlying program, also rearrange the layout of the wireframe. Like most elements of online commerce and marketing, web graphic design is moving toward user-generated and user-influenced design in order to open up to broader audiences.

—Micah L. Issitt

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