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Create a Clean Modern Website Design in Photoshop

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Build a complete website design mockup for a fictional design studio, starting with the creation of the initial layout then moving on to designing the individual page elements. The result is a modern, crisp and clean webpage layout ready for coding.

Photoshop Website Design

Taking inspiration from various modern website designs, we’ll produce this clean and crisp website layout. Key features include horizontal bands to separate the content into specific areas; a colourful header area introducing the site; a friendly welcome message with examples of work; two-column main layout and a resource filled footer.

Wireframe

A good start with any design is to sketch out the plans on paper, the free reign of the pencil helps flesh out the rough layout with ease.

Wireframe

Planning out a wireframe also helps develop a hierarchy and gives an insight into the best positions for key elements of the design.

Create a new document in Adobe Photoshop, I tend to make the size of the artwork similar to that of a common widescreen monitor to give a good representation of the overall look of the site.

Place guides at a 960px width in the centre of the document and create a basic grid to place the page items against.

Begin with the creation of the header bar. Draw a selection across the full width of the document and fill with white. Double click the layer to open the layer styles and add a Gradient Overlay from grey to white running vertically.

Next, draw the main header area where the featured content will be placed. On a new layer draw a selection, then add a gradient overlay with a selection of two vibrant colours. Also add a subtle inner shadow to add depth to the design.

Subtle touches of texture can really bring a design to life. With the header area selected with a mask press CMD+SHIFT+C to Copy Merged, then paste on a new layer. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise to produce a simple texture, then set the blending mode to Multiply and reduce the opacity to suit.

Paste in the company logo, position on screen according to the grid, then add some styling through the layer style options. Add a gradient overlay to match the feature header colours, then create a very soft inner shadow.

Use the Type tool to create the text of the main navigation, set the type in a mid-grey while using a slightly darker version for the active link.

The feature header is a great place to introduce the website, with the vibrant background colour it is given main focus to the user. Use this space to place a snappy intro title in a custom font that matches the company branding.

Continue fleshing out the introductory content, but this time use Arial or Helvetica as the font so that the text can be set in plain old html, without any image replacement techniques.

Position a laptop into the featured area (a range of examples can be found here), this fits in well with the nature of the fictional company, and makes a great focal area to display examples of work on the laptop screen.

Emphasise this focal point with a radial gradient emitting from behind the laptop. This adds that little extra detail that lifts the element from the page.

Underneath the main header, draw another selection and fill with a grey-white gradient.

Split the mid section of the page into two columns with guides in relation to the grid lines. On the left we’ll have a main content panel, whereas the right will hold a thinner sidebar. Use the Type tool to add some dummy content. Alter the sizing and leading to give digestible and easily readable passages of text.

Below this main content area could hold an area to display the latest blog posts. Split the column into another two columns and draw up a selection of example post entries. The title links should stand out to the user as something clickable, so change their colour to give a visual clue.

Use the Rounded Rectangle tool to draw a box in the sidebar. The original colour doesn’t matter too much as we’ll be styling it up in the next stage.

Double click the layer and add a range of layer styles, including a grey-white gradient, a thin grey stroke and a soft inner shadow.

Use this sidebar panel to develop a Featured Project section. Elements could include a small screenshot and passage of text.

Draw another rounded rectangle to use as a button, add a couple of layer styles such as a gradient overlay and stroke to style the button to match the overall clean/grey theme.

Create a short, descriptive label for the button prompting the user to continue through the site to view further projects.

Signify the end of the content by drawing a footer area onto the screen. Fill the area with a light grey to differentiate it from the main content area.

Draw a circular mask and fill it with a black to transparent radial gradient. Press CMD+T to transform the selection, squash and stretch the gradient to form a long thin shadow-like graphic.

Position the shadow centrally on the screen, then delete the excess area above the footer. The result is a subtle shadow that lifts the main page, adding a little touch of detail to the design.

The footer area is a great place to hold secondary page elements, one example could be a client login area. Flesh out the design with the Type tool, then draw a couple of input boxes. Style the boxes with a soft inner shadow.

Use the central area of the footer to display a message about the company. Set the text using consistent header and body text font sizes.

Finally, add a point of contact in the lower right. These details will then be handy to the user throughout the site. Give prominence to the most important aspects through size and stronger weights or colour.

Photoshop Website Design

The final design fits all the desired elements neatly onto the page, while keeping everything aligned to the base grid. The result is a structured and clean layout with lots of subtle greys to add depth. Colour is then used to highlight feature areas and important content.

Stay tuned for a future tutorial where we’ll look at coding up the visual into a complete XHMTL/CSS webpage.

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Written by Chris Spooner

Chris Spooner is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques collating creative website designs. Check out Chris' design tutorials and articles at Blog.SpoonGraphics or follow his daily findings on Twitter.

226 Comments

  1. Marco says:

    Here I see the “subtle gradient” at work and I must say, it really looks good. The purple bar absolutely stands out, giving it more attention to the product.

    Keep up the great work Chris :) .

  2. Mampranx says:

    Nice …, can’t wait to see the next tutorial. Screencast version will be nice … :D

  3. Great tutorial and nice outcome! I’ll be returning for part 2 because that’s the part I can’t do! I’m slowly learning by flicking through tutorials and tearing apart some templates… I’ll get there eventually!

  4. Mitesh says:

    This is a great tutorial by the way:) I’m always find myself getting stuck in the concepting page

  5. achikochi says:

    Nice tutorial, great example of use the 960 grid.

  6. Jaswinder says:

    Excellent tutorial I might start using photoshop over fireworks now.

  7. Andrew Houle says:

    Awesome end result. And I love how you’ve shown the importance of sketching, wireframes, and grids. Great job!

  8. Simmessa says:

    Chris, your work is first class as usual, love the little details… Keep up the excellent work!

    All the Best!

    Simmessa.com

  9. cssah says:

    excellent work ,thanks so much.

  10. akkis says:

    Thank you very much for another design tutorial! I’m waiting the second part with CSS “magic” :)

  11. Great tutorial. I like the use of inner shadow, adds a nice illusion of dimensionality. Thanks.

  12. Hassan says:

    Hey Chris, I don’t get the 960 grid thing? What is the use of it? Can you please refer me some place where they explain the use of 960 psd template? Like how is it useful?

  13. nice website tutorial, thanks..

  14. Igor Mattos says:

    Wow, superb tutorial !
    Really thanks!

  15. henry says:

    more of these would be nice! great job!

  16. another great tutorial, damn this site!

  17. henry says:

    while i was following this tutorial i realized that you dont really give specific details. I have to figure out how you got things done maybe in the upcoming tutorials it would be nice to see more detailed instructions with this tutorial.

  18. Great tutorial, very useful, some of your technique are very interesting

  19. WebUnicorn says:

    nice article
    but at the end it’s about how to translate good design to valid cross browser CSS/XHTML

  20. Matt says:

    I think it’s a good tutorial, but for many newcomers to Photoshop the steps might be a bit vague. Like henry above had said how he had troubles, I think steps should be explained more in-depth. I know how long it takes to write up a tutorial of such length but that makes it even more important to get it right for everyone.

    Regardless, thanks for submitting an awesome web design tutorial!

  21. Dan Alvares says:

    Now make it CSS/XHTML valid and compatible with the most used browsers

  22. mui interesante y parece bastante sencillo de hacer, tendre ke intentarlo haber ke sale :D

  23. Brilliant! I agree on the css – love to see the code behind this. I really like the emphasis on planning.

  24. Matt says:

    And although it is a good design, shouldn’t login forms like the one at the bottom follow the ‘above the fold’ rule? Elements critical to business should be above the fold, and I’d say that a Client Login is a critical element, depending on what is beyond that login awaiting them.

  25. very good indeed! very nice! mate!

  26. herya says:

    Great tutorial Chris thank you!

    Well I for one absolutely appreciate the brevity of this tutorial, if you know your way around Photoshop a long winded 8 page tutorial is obsolete and here you can learn more about the ideas than technical steps – there are loads of more detailed tech tutorials around but this one stands out b/c of ideas presented in such a clear way.

    Thanks again!

  27. Mark says:

    WOW! Nice Tutorial…can’t wait to integrate it to HTML

  28. Marc Kuiper says:

    Great tutorial, thanks!

  29. Kayla says:

    Great tutorial, much more insight and detail to other similar tutorials I’ve found.

  30. Very cool Chris. I really like how you use the layer style.
    Thanks !

  31. Raj says:

    The steps are difficult to reproduce as a new bee. It would be helpful if you could provide a download of the psd file. Thanks a lot.

  32. Meg Schlagel says:

    I found this article to be very interesting. I work for a company that promotes great priced websites and we use a lot of Photoshop to build graphics. Thanks!

  33. robby says:

    Love the final product Chris, keep it up!

  34. Dave says:

    Nice design, there was a good tutorial like this on nettuts as well.

    If this was a screencast I think I’d pay to watch it!

  35. T-Law says:

    Really great tutorial, I like modern designs, thanks.

  36. CgBaran Tuts says:

    Great tutorial thanks

  37. Sharon says:

    thanks, good tutorial .. :)

  38. devlim says:

    waiting for upcoming tutorial.!

  39. Melanie says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! Used some of the techniques in making my aunt’s website :) Looks like I need to explore the joys of layer styles more, because you used them in some creative ways =]

    Thanks so much again!

  40. Hello guys here we have got a great stuff , this tutorial helped me a lot in attaiing good knowledge.

  41. CallaB says:

    Sweet! Had a little trouble with creating the circular mask….but I’m a newbie. Looking forward to the XHTML/CSS tutorial!

  42. David says:

    Were can i download this template? (i do not want to create it)

  43. Megan says:

    I’m just curious about the various layers you used in this tutorial. For example, is each of the navigation words on it’s on layer or one single layer viz. Home is on it’s own layer Our work is on it’s own layer, or are they all on a single layer?? Great stuff though for sure!

  44. jez says:

    not for the novice, sorry couldn’t follow, just needed a few more intermediate steps…

  45. Pr0_dEsIgn says:

    Nicely Illustrated! Excellent tutorial for Photoshop users from start to finish. I really like your approach with a sketch drawing for a design reference. Thanks for the tips!

  46. Mr.Woodruff's Student says:

    This tutorial was great, and I love the outcome. My teacher, Mr. Woodruff, assigned us to follow this tutorial (and the next part, as well) for a homework assignment. I have to say, of all the tutorials he’s had us use over the last 3 years, this is the best and has the best result! Thank you!

  47. Los says:

    Great tutorial, I finally decided to do one of these tutorials. I’m a bit envious of Mr. Woodruff’s Student, the closest I came to anything computer wise was my computer literacy class. My school is so broke we couldn’t until like last year afford software like photoshop. Grrrr. Tomorrow I’m gonna do the Markup of the site during lunch.

  48. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for a GREAT tutorial!! You should get a Twitter page!!
    If or when you do:
    http://twitter.com/Devineca

  49. Amy says:

    Nvm about the twitter part. just found it, lol, whoops ;)

  50. Andrew says:

    I like it! ;-)

  51. Mah Milton says:

    yes, it will help to create my reviewed penis extender device site.

    • NewYorkRob says:

      Ahhh. I guess your device site will be very short sighted.

      • Sniffer says:

        Some people is not getting that it’s not a Photoshop tutorial, but a webdesign tutorial. You are supposed to know how to use this tool, guys. Or search for other tutorial explaining how to use it. I’m pretty shure that there’s a bunch of them around.

  52. Mie says:

    this is simply amazing!

  53. Codie says:

    Hey, love the tut, but could you break the steps down further, and show more screens, I felt a bit lost as to what to do at times.

  54. French6ko says:

    Thank you so much, the result is really impressive. What i would learn more is about the interaction between the 960 grid and the placement of design elements, which rules from this grid system do we have to respect to keep the design well positionned? Thank you for this nice tut!

  55. paul says:

    I agree with Codie, for people who are not as familiar with Photoshop, it’s not easy to follow, especially the Add noise part for the header area

  56. kordit says:

    nice

  57. AJ says:

    I really like the wire frame idea. Why didn’t I think of that? The transition from sketch to computer seems so arduous! I also need to thank you for the squished shadow effect. I have spent forever trying to figure out how that is done. Mystery solved.

  58. IW says:

    could you please share de .psd file? and sources..

    Thank you

  59. Hi Chris, nice tutorial and the site design is amazing. Because im new in this i had a little problems to follow the tutorial the first one, to draw a selection??? i just draw a rectangle because i didnt know how i could do it. second what size i should use for each text. U know since the size of the page is huge im like confuse.
    Ill be waiting for your answer! thanks

  60. Dave says:

    Good result.

    I agree that it needed more detailed steps

  61. Please anyone tell me something! which font size should i use for menu,

  62. Amit says:

    Hey, Thank for the tut.. Tried it, loved it!

  63. Merissa says:

    I’m going through this tutorial right now and it is great! I’m a bit lost at the mask/copy merged right before the add noise part, so I’m going to skip that and see if it all works out in the end. :-)

  64. borntobeaseo says:

    nice tutorial, nice design, excelent for company homepage, have your this as wordpress theme?

  65. John says:

    horrible!
    the outcome is looking good but the steps really need more details!!!

    for example:
    Begin with the creation of the header bar. Draw a selection across the full width of the document and fill with white.

    OK and how is the height of the header bar ?

    nobody is perfect but please look twice before releasing a tut with lots of errors.

  66. arshad says:

    Chris Spooner can you give me more detailed steps

  67. Shane says:

    This is one of the tutorials I give out to the people I am training – very solid, though the coding is the second half of this.

  68. Stuart says:

    Excellent, I liked the bare-bones approach, we can all work out skipped-over bits (header height, noise) with a little experimentation.

  69. Gloria says:

    Very interesting article!
    Thank U

  70. Ana says:

    The tutorial is good, but it is missing some steps and the images are very poor.I cant read any info at the layer style.
    Please review this tutorial.

  71. Andreas says:

    realy nice tutorial and fine design, looks professional, you can use for a corporate presence

  72. Sniffer says:

    Please keep tutorials clean as they are.
    Don’t know how to add noise? Search Google.

  73. adrian says:

    Yes Chris another good tutorial – I agree with Sniffer – if your unsure of a term – Google it – and be grateful for what you did understand.

  74. Tarique says:

    Nice! Thanks.

  75. DARIO says:

    Thanks Chris!
    One of the best tutorial I’ve ever seen.I’m beginer in coding, I know a lot of things how to do in photoshop but coding is problem for me, anyway great you’re king.

  76. Daniel says:

    cool, I tried to recreate habs, it would probably use it for your own blog, but somehow it looks a bit different, not so good as here

  77. Sian says:

    Good tutorial and classy up-to-date design. I shall give it a go.

  78. Pol39 says:

    There are many signs of hope and goodwill to improve this frightening situation. ,

  79. Boy27 says:

    In theory, each device bus can have its own address space. ,

  80. Pol13 says:

    You can compete for the gold with the best of them and do it all in style. ,

  81. Lisa Noble says:

    I do this all the time, but you still have found ways to simplify my process. Thank you. I will definitely put things into place.

  82. WoW :) Awesome tutorials. Thanks for sharing this nice post.

  83. legOstaRwArs says:

    nice tutorial.
    i love this work. thanks :)

  84. Aldis says:

    Very good article, I will try to draw the website with help of this tutorial. Thank’s for sharing!

  85. ximumu says:

    非常的感谢,又学习了.

  86. katie says:

    Hey there! Could you send me the PSD for this? It would be extremely helpful for following your steps. Thanks a lot!

  87. katie says:

    Hey. I have followed this tutorial and added my own twist to it as well. I will post my website soon so you all can see. thanks for this :)

  88. Marco says:

    THIS IS HORRIBLE! DO NOT TEACH WITH THIS!

  89. Neal says:

    MaTT iiS ReAllY GaY!! AnD Dis WeBsiTE SuCKs!!

  90. Matt Hall says:

    FUCK DIS SHIT NIGGA

  91. bopadre says:

    this site is not good it dose not meet its pourpase and it is just simply awfull it sux 100% possitive

  92. ben says:

    ruben is gay

  93. Great tutorial,
    I’m sure a lot of people have followed this tutorial and probably not come to quite the same result. I think it takes years of practice designing website, learning about white space and keeping your page not too cluttered.
    I think this is a good tutorial but other designers who are learning need to think for themselves a little bit and add in their own style. Don’t be a sheep.

  94. Mexicano (Brazil) says:

    Obrigado!

  95. This is a great reference for website design.

  96. mojo says:

    Exited :D

    waiting …

    Stay tuned for a future tutorial where we’ll look at coding up the visual into a complete XHMTL/CSS webpage.

  97. Nice Article

    You gave New idea to online world and designer of course as well.

    Great Job!!!

    Litmusonline

  98. damilola says:

    Lovely design

  99. Jehnee says:

    nice article thanks for sharing…

  100. Pat says:

    There is nothing simple or easy about this about this article

  101. TheFreeMan says:

    Nice Design but I would have liked to see some more numbers in form of measurements. Noobs like me have no idea how big something like a header has to be. I know, I know, learning by doing and so on. It’s just my opinion ;)

  102. textureplus says:

    congrats, nice tutorial with efforts. I like the layout design and the colours you picked…very sleak.

  103. amos says:

    if anybody’s wondering, that 960 grid can be found @ http://960.gs

  104. deb says:

    what’s the font used for the titles ?
    I really like it…does somebody know ?

  105. Mike hague says:

    Thanks for sharing :)…. is this website accessible though? In terms of colours and colour contrasts?

  106. Cool, very inspirational turorial, gave me a couple of ideas. Thanks ;-)

  107. g3niuz says:

    yo chris,

    this is really fresh – thanks for this clean tut…
    ;)

    greets from germany

  108. Tamil Movie says:

    This is not for beginner, but its nice

  109. David says:

    Awesome! Great works. I much appreciate your time ;)

  110. Peter Lauge says:

    Very nice work!

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