Web Design Beginning - Feb 2010
Web design Sunshine Coast
We have said this before - design your website for your customers. These are the people who pay the bills. We are based on the Sunshine Coast and develop and design web sites both here and abroad. In our last newsletter we talked about branding your business, specifically building your web design brand. Listening to your customers is starting at the beginning of web design and building a website that suits their tastes and caters to their needs.
Web Design Purpose
Now define the purpose of your website. Businesses use websites to establish their brand using the internet as a mass communication tool. Some websites are for sales and others for educational. Many are a combination of some of these points; however a website needs a purpose, a purpose which fits the business brand. More on web design purpose. If you look at your competitor's websites, look through the eyes of a customer.
Web Design Basics
Be very clear with your links. Customers / visitors need to find what they are looking for in the first 8 seconds or they will leave. In order to make your content easy for your intended audience to navigate, make sure the links to the main sections of your website are easily visible from each web page. You want to invite people to view as many pages of your site as possible, so make it easy for them to find each page.
A good way to help you visualise the structure of the site is to create a flow chart of the whole website on paper. Think about think about how your users might structure the information within the site to help them find the information they need easily.
Try to keep the information on your first page a general overview so you don't bog people down with too much information. They can then click on the (clear and easy to use) links to view more information about the topics that they are interested in. More on website links from February 2004.
Web Design Structure
Most web pages have a common structure consisting of a header and footer, a horizontal navigation bar along the top and / or a vertical navigation bar down the left of the page and a central section for the main content.
This structure is based on simple, easy-to-understand layout principles.
If there’s a lot of content, split it up into several different pages so your viewer doesn’t have to digest too much information on one page.
Keep text simple and to the point, and make sure grammar is correct – check and check again to avoid looking unprofessional. Text is more difficult to read on screen than in printed media, so it’s crucial get your message across in a succinct and easy to understand way.
You should always keep your text blocks relatively small. Huge paragraphs are more difficult to read and may make your audience lose interest quickly.
Stick to 2 or 3 different fonts at the most – and make sure they are ones generally found on most computers. San serifs are easier to read on computer monitors so stick to these for the main text, and make sure your text is large enough for everyone to read.
Bullet points, lists and relevant photos can help to break up the text. More on web design basics from March 2005.
Web design images
Images used for no purpose are such a waste of space – please make sure there’s a reason for its presence, i.e. it improves the user’s understanding and experience. A website full of unnecessary graphics looks amateurish, and it can be an obstacle for accessibility tools such as screen readers. Some designers on the Sunshine Coast use beach images that have little or no relevance to their web design.
Make sure the photos and images you do use are clear and well optimised to reduce file size and increase page loading times. One sure sign of an amateurish website is a page with a huge image that takes forever to load. And your viewer will probably click away from the site before they even get a chance to see it.
Creating clear, professional looking graphics is best let up to a professional graphic designer who understands web design. More on web design graphics.
Web design colour
Creating a balanced colour palette from which to choose your website colour scheme will help you to create a professional looking website. Bright clashing colours scream amateur.
If you are creating a website for a company with a logo, start there. Create a palette, from which you can choose colours for the main banner, buttons and text rollovers etc.
And keep things simple and uncluttered - empty space makes colours stand out and text easier to read. More on web design elements.
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