Design, like any other form of art, is not an exact science. Contrary to popular belief, however, design is a science and works by following an established set of principles to achieve a desired effect. There may be several different ways to arrive at the same effect (ie good design), but there is such a thing as getting design wrong — and the effects can be disastrous.
For better or worse, our first impressions of websites are almost entirely visual. If a website doesn’t look professional and visually appealing, we have a tendency to doubt its credibility. Sometimes this is unfair, as very informative and valuable websites sometimes just don’t have great design — and sometimes very weak and insubstantial sites look amazing — but the general rule is that the better your website looks, the more your viewers are likely to trust you.
Knowing that the difference between a successful website and an unsuccessful one rests on the visual design, sharpening design skills should definitely be a priority for any webmaster. But knowing where to look for design instruction is not as straightforward for some as it is for others, and still others simply don’t have the time to take a class in at a traditional environment to develop their talent.
Here is a list of online resources that teach the necessary design principles to get your website looking professional, so that you can make the best impression possible.
Online universities, such as the Art Institute, which offers one of the most well-known and well-respected online design programs online — teach the skills necessary in the graphic design industry, which will benefit anyone trying to design a website. Topics such as computer graphics, electronic imaging, and production are covered at length, and concepts of color, composition, design, and typography are place at the fore so that you graduate with a comprehensive understanding of the language, tools, and theories that contribute to great design.
Best of all, you can take the courses at your leisure from your own home, so you can still work at your day job and learn on the side at your own pace. Furthermore, you can take the courses that would be most beneficial to you, and leave the rest. Of course, the education isn’t free, but it could definitely be the next step in your design education that takes you and your website into new realms of profitability.
Other notable programs include Full Sail’s online graphic design program and MIT’s OpenCourseWare site, which offers some of the best design education available for free.
There are numerous graphic design blogs dedicated to design instruction. The people who run these blogs are typically design experts who want to share their expertise online (and get paid by advertisers when people visit their sites). Not only do these sites give tutorials and lessons about graphic design concepts, they also provide a wealth of examples that you can use as inspiration.
The instruction from blogs won’t be as guided as instruction you would receive from an online university, but if you just need a few pointers to take your design skills to the next level, start researching design blogs and follow a few that catch your eye.
Lastly, there are hundreds of thousands of graphic design video tutorials on YouTube that are not only free, but very informative and helpful. The benefit of these videos is that they are structured and usually show exactly how to achieve a certain effect, which will greatly expand your design repertoire. However, to make the most of this resource, you usually have to know what you are looking for. There are some videos that guide absolute beginners, but it’s best to have at least a cursory understanding of design before throwing yourself into YouTube videos.
Hopefully you will find something of value in these resources. Where else do you look for graphic design help?
This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes on the topics of online university. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.