You can build websites and now you want to design them

I’m Steve McKinney, I write this blog about designing websites and have done for a couple of years. My aim is to teach you how to design visually appealing websites.

You’re likely to be a developer wanting to improve their visual design skills, or getting started as a designer. Either way you’re someone who understands the value of not only good design, but the requirement of making it visually appealing too. Through sharing what I know and continue to learn, I hope to meet this need.

It started with writing weekly

I made the decision to start writing this blog consistently in January 2015. Every week, for two years, a blog post went out. I started out writing on anything I was interested in as long as it was related to websites.

It became clear to me over those two years, there is a lack of content focusing on how to design things which look good.

You want to learn visual design

The reason why it’s difficult to find content; is not for a lack of demand, it’s challenging to teach visual design. The theory only goes so far.

You’re told about colour theory, hierarchy, typography, grids, etc. but you find it challenging to apply it. You want to design something and feel like you’re making progress. You know theory is important, but applying it is the challenge.

Focusing on designing beautiful websites

I knew focusing on visual design would be a good start. I begun narrowing down to only designing with Illustrator and launched a redesign of the website. Things improved steadily, but I felt limited and ignoring a part of making websites.

The thing being coding, at least the HTML and CSS part. Understanding how to build websites is part of my unique advantage.

A new goal to be able to work with in depth content

So in the last few months of posting weekly, I thought about the focus of the website and taking a break. The realisation of posting weekly, with limited time, meant I couldn’t do certain posts. I wanted to change.

My vision for this website is to; teach in depth ‘web’ related design topics. Help you understand why and develop your own rationale. Using Illustrator and CSS as the core tools.

A mixture of practical tutorials and tips

All tutorials are taught using Illustrator and aim to make no assumptions. Meaning I will provide rationale behind my decision making, point out where things are or provide references. Each tutorial does fall at an intermediate level.

Some tutorials will feature CSS (using SCSS), and some will feature JavaScript. There are a mixture of articles from quick tips, to in depth design tutorials.

The aim is to help improve workflow efficiency and build up visual design skill. Code adds additional justification and is usually the best way to communicate extra details.

I’m certainly still figuring things out, but with a vision in mind I can work towards my goal.

About me

I’m a designer based in Manchester. I specialise in visual design and user experience for websites. I've been doing this professionally for over six years. I’ve worked with a large variety of clients in differing industries. With differing needs, shops, subscriptions, services and marketing.

I enjoy being involved along the whole timeline of a project. The earlier the better, I'm someone who likes to get the best understanding possible. This not only helps me provide the best solution and justification for the work but build trust. When a designer isn’t able to build trust with the client, it results in unnecessary revisions and a feeling of not being understood.

Personally, I've been doing this since I was a kid. In which I’ve always deemed myself a “web designer” but that’s like calling yourself a webmaster these days. I sit somewhere in the middle of being a visual designer and UX designer. Anyway, I’m someone who has always designed websites with the intention of being usable and visually appealing.

Starting at a young age has given me an advantage, as I learnt to code alongside designing. I saw it as part of the process, should designers code wasn’t a thing when I was 13. I generally get mixed opinions on my skill from this, I’m not “a designer who knows a bit of code” or a “front end developer who knows a bit of design”. I have a deep understanding of design and I know CSS like the back of my hand.

I do have a personal style, but I will always design for the audience and goals in mind. It’s important the user is put first, as they are the ones who are buying or using your service.

I enjoy drawing, illustration and hand lettering. I also have a bit of knack for website performance. I’m also a dog lover, if it wasn’t obvious, see the logo, the illustrations in the footer and some article images… everywhere.

Start new designs quicker

It’s my aim to help you be a better designer. I’ve made you a simple Adobe Illustrator template to manage your colour, grid and guides. So you’ll get to executing your ideas around 20 minutes sooner every time.

Join my list and I’ll send you the template and new tutorials to help you design beautiful websites (currently monthly).