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Good Web Design

A good web designer is the best guide to developing a web site. You should, however, understand the basics of site design when you review designers' proposals for your site and samples of their work. A site is a visual experience, and it is also useful to have "visual thinkers" review the site before putting it into action.

  • Use a few well-chosen colors that are energizing yet relaxing to view. Blues, reds, orange, bright green, and bright purple all work well on-screen.  Avoid the "rainbow effect" of many gaudy colors, distracting combinations (bright yellow and orange or black and purple together), or dull combinations (earth tones and black).

  • The color of the text contrasts sharply with the screen's background.  It is amazing how many sites use blue text against a black background or purple text against blue, or combine yellow and white.  Review the site before it goes on-line to make sure every word and image stands out clearly from its background.  Few things drive people from a site more than unreadable text.

  • Employ easy to read fonts.  Italics do not work on a web site.  Common, non-specialty fonts easily recognizable by computer programs can also speed up the access time.

  • All images should be high-resolution, i.e., crisp and clear.  If a specific image cannot achieve this standard, it is best not to use it.

  • Use short lines for your text.  It is tiring to read text that stretches across the entire computer screen or web page.

  • Critical information should be at the top of a page.  Visitors should not have to scroll down the page for what they need most.  Scrolling is acceptable, but viewers respond most to what they see first.

  • Links stand out clearly from the other text.  Some colors, such as red, are commonly used for links.  Once a link is clicked, its text changes color - to purple or light blue, for example.  The different color provides visitors with a record of the pages they have already visited.

  • Areas of the screen that have different functions need to be clearly defined by color, shape, icons, or position.

  • Avoid complex URLs, or web addresses. "Companyname.com" or "Main Company Product.com" or "Keyword.org" are examples of easily used URLs. "peteranddonnaswebpage.com" is a poorly named URL.

  • Sites need to be navigable by text alone; they cannot depend on images as links.   Links can certainly be images, but they must be supported by text-based links.  Many people disable graphics on the Net to speed up downloading.  Such users need to be able to move through a site if the visual images have been disabled.

Also, most web browsers cannot follow visual links.  They recognize sites by textual links.  That is, it will recognize the name "Mona Lisa"   but not necessarily the image of the painting.  Thus, purely visual links can reduce the number of visitors to a site.

  • Avoid animation (unless that is your business) because it adds significantly to download time and looks silly unless done well.

  • Design clear menus that lead visitors to all site destinations.  Each page can contain a second menu that accesses the most important content: home page, products, contact page, officer profiles, references, etc.

  • Menu items consist of key words that are instantly understandable to all possible users, including non-native speakers of the site language.

  • Once again:  Good Web Sites are quickly and easily downloadable. Graphics always have a purpose and should not cause delays in accessing the site.  Many people still use 28 kbps or 56 kbps modems, and they will simply ignore your site if they have to wait too long for it to appear.

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