At AB Web Design Bangkok we generally manage either full-scale website developments projects, bespoke software solutions or smaller commissions such as logo design. This section details most of the common, design-related considerations we address when designing, coding and programming websites.
There are three main types of logos: symbols, wordmarks (or logotypes) and combination marks. Examples of symbols include Nike's tick and the familiar apple seen on iPhones. A wordmark is a typeface, often either commissioned or designed in-house, showing the company's name. Examples include the BBC logo, which uses a Gill Sans typeface, Ford and CNN. Combination marks combine a symbol with a wordmark. Starbucks, KFC and Mcdonald's are well known examples.
The logos below are from a set of ideas I developed for Thailand's Department of Highways, part of the Ministry of Transport in Bangkok. The concept is based on an early 20th-century illustration depicting an elephant chair above a pair of tusks. The version on the right was chosen (and colored) for the website.
Responsive design describes the techniques needed to ensure that websites can be viewed on desktop PCs, netbooks, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Many of these devices have different screen sizes, so it's important that websites can adapt (or "respond") accordingly. An easy way to think of this is to consider a shopping website which displays items in a three-column layout when viewed on a PC. A responsive design would typically mean that two columns are shown on tablets, while on smartphones items would be presented in a single column.
Responsive design is now an integral part of the design process and something anyone about to hire a website designer should be aware of. For more information, Wikipedia's article about responsive design is informative, well-sourced, and offers links to other useful CSS resources.
Along with logo design and photography, typography is an aspect of the design process that impacts heavily on "look and feel". Thanks to services like Google Fonts it's now easy to add interesting fonts to websites and create the style you want. The most basic considerations when choosing a typeface are whether you like the characters and how they render at different sizes. The pages on this site are displayed mainly with Gill Sans Light, a famous typeface designed in the late 1920s. For a brief overview of typography, click any of the icons below.
Serif vs Sans Serif
Serif typefaces differ from their sans-serif counterparts in that they feature small, decorative flourishes at the end of the strokes. These flourishes, called serifs, were traditionally thought to increase readability and reading speed.
On websites, especially at smaller sizes and for short passages of text, sans-serif fonts are often a better choice. Popular serif typefaces include Georgia and Times Roman, while Arial, Verdana and Helvetica are some of the better known sans-serifs found on the web.
Descenders are the parts of letters that descend below the baseline. The word below is displayed with Gill Sans and includes three descenders.
What I particularly like are the straight lines in the letters p and y, as well as the "goggles" shape of the g. This website uses the words designer and Bangkok a lot, so I wanted an interesting g rather than the bland curl found in sans-serif typefaces such as Arial or Helvetica.
Kerning is a typographic term that refers to spacing between two consecutive letters.
The word above features two examples of kerning: the W "pulls back" the letter o that follows it, and the y occupies some of the space used by the a. The reduction in white space leads to a neater, more uniform appearance, and enhanced legibility. Some web fonts are notorious for poor kerning: Arial, for example, has no built-in kerning pairs and by default will display excessive white space between letter combinations such as Va and Te.
A typographic ligature is a special character that represents two letters joined together. Ligatures generally occur only in serifs, though Gill Sans and Futura (both sans serif typefaces) include them as standard characters. The text below is displayed with Gill Sans and features two ligatures.
The letters f connect to form a single character, and the second f joins with the i to form a character without the dot. The result is interesting, though not necessarily more legible.
More than 50% of online traffic comes from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, so it's essential that websites load quickly. To help web designers assess page loading speeds, Google has developed a tool (PageSpeed) that monitors performance and gives technical advice on how load times can be improved. We use this tool for our clients' websites and in some cases have achieved a near 100% score.
Whether your website is a brochure site or an e-commerce venture, high-quality photography is essential. A common myth is that expensive cameras and lenses are needed to capture the best photos. While it's true that cheap equipment is best avoided, most mid-range cameras are capable of producing excellent-quality shots suitable for websites. One of the easiest ways to improve image clarity is to use a tripod.
A few years ago I managed photography on location for several projects. This was fun, but often very time consuming. These days we generally outsource photo shoots to other website designers in Bangkok or professional photographers we partner with in Thailand and Singapore.