Introduction to Design and UX (v1)


You can’t code the front end and ignore design and user experience (UX). Not everyone is cut out to be an artist and you don’t have to be. But you do have to actually use your design brain a little bit if you want a site your users actually care about visiting. That doesn’t mean just having beautiful graphics, which is a common misconception about design.

User Experience is really about focusing on three things — can the user get done what he/she is trying to do effectively, efficiently, and with satisfaction. Half the battle is just having the mindset of trying to optimize those three things by talking to your users. The other half is about actually building and measuring those things.

Web design is more than just building "pretty" things; it’s about crafting useful and effective experiences for your users. It starts with making your site fast and reliable. Then you need to properly set up the structure and information architecture of the page so users have a logical schema for navigation. Then you will build your user interfaces for optimal user experience. Only then, finally, can you worry about aesthetics.

Given the focus web design has on crafting an effective user experience, which is the only way to have a successful website, it’s probably worth spending a little time to absorb the high level stuff, huh? You don’t want to go too crazy, though — this is definitely a rabbit hole where you can spend way too much time trying to learn everything there is to know about UX or Design.

Remember that your goal here is to absorb the most important concepts and continue on your way. You can always come back when you’ve got enough experience to start asking the right questions.

Learning Objectives

  • What is design?
  • What is user experience?
  • What’s the difference between UX and UI?
  • What are the three things UX is meant to focus on?
  • What is visual hierarchy and why is it so important for websites?
  • What are the primary ways to achieve visual hierarchy?
  • What is the design hierarchy pyramid?
  • What are the CRAP factors of effective layout and what are they used for?
  • What is A/B Testing?
  • What is Web Accessibility (A11y) and why should I care?

Web Accessibility

Web Accessibility is crucial to the success of all web products and services. Watch the following video about web accessibility, take notes and make sure to keep these rules in mind when developing websites and web applications from now on.

Duration: 35 minutes

User Experience

You are probably familiar with the successful products and services of companies such as Google, IBM and Amazon, but what you might not know is that these companies have based their success and increased their profitability by investing heavily in the UX (User Experience) of their products.

Let’s see how UX can either break a website or make it successful by looking at the following Infographic: UX 101: What is User Experience?

UX 101: What Is User Experience?

From Visually.


  1. Read Startups, This is How Design Works

  2. Get a more detailed look at what UX really is from Smashing Magazine. Don’t worry about absorbing all the tools and techniques… focus on the high level stuff at the top. Take a short break and grab a cup of coffee before diving into this one. You’ll need some time and a clear head for some serious studying.

"Does this website give me value? Is it easy to use? Is it pleasant to use?" These are the questions that run through the minds of visitors as they interact with our products, and they form the basis of their decisions on whether to become regular users. ~ What is UX Design, Smashing Magazine

  1. Read a very simple overview of Visual Hierarchy from 52weeksofUX.

Visual hierarchy suggests there is a proper way to view content visually: in a hierarchical way. ~ Visual Hierarhy, 52weeksofUX

  1. Read about the C.R.A.P Design Principles, which you’ve been subconsciously aware of for years.

Design matters. But design is not about decoration or about ornamentation. Design is about making communication as easy and clear for the viewer as possible. ~ C.R.A.P. Design Principles

Additional Resources

UPDATED: 29.03.2021

  • Added 5 Things Developers Need to Know About Design video link
  • Embedded UX 101 Infographic from Visually