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Design the perfect Web site

Design the perfect Web site
David deBoer

You're a developer, right? So you should be able to do a Web page, right? Well, there are lots of things that many developers don't know, and can learn from this tip, that's excerpted from

Web designer David deBoer discusses the most important aspects of designing an efficient Web site, and explains which rules and guidelines should always be followed when designing your site.

Before We Get Started
The first thing to consider when you start designing a Web site is your target audience. A law firm's Web site will, of course, look completely different from a music site. In this article, I focus mainly on designing a "formal" Web site, and, although the guidelines in this article are quite general, they may not apply to your project. If you have any questions after reading this article, please don't hesitate to contact me through InformIT's Expert Q&A feature.

First impressions are very important. Your Web site's "home page" should sum up the services that your company or Web site provides. Use a short descriptive heading that describes the main focus of the site. You can also add your company's logo, but don't stuff this page (or any page of your Web site!) with information and graphics; it needs to look clean and organized. Use an easy-to-read font. The home page would be a good place to put any site updates or news. Also, depending on how big your Web site is, you might want to explain how to navigate through it. At the bottom of the page, provide your company's contact information, such as your email address or phone number, so it's easy for visitors to contact you.

Be sure to carefully choose the right color combination for your site before you start designing?no purple backgrounds with dark blue text. And stick with one color combination for the whole site. Differently colored backgrounds or type can be very annoying. You can also choose to use a background image instead of just a color. You can use just about any image as a background, or download some backgrounds from the Internet. You can blur your background images to make the text on your site more easily readable. Keep in mind that while background graphics don't print, background colors will. Before uploading your pages, check how various browsers will print those pages.

When adding text, there are a few things to remember:

  • Don't change fonts!

  • Make the text easy to read (font size). Remember to check how the text looks with different resolutions.

  • Never use ALL CAPS.

If you use a background graphic, the background color and any type on the page will always load first, so if the background color doesn't contrast with the text color the visitor could see a page full of unreadable text for a couple of seconds. To fix this, simply make the background color similar to the color of the background graphic.

Keep your Web pages short. Try to spread out the information/animations over several pages. Putting a lot of information on one page gives your page a very messy look, and certainly won't encourage visitors to read all the text displayed. Instead, you should make a couple of pages and put one or two paragraphs of text on each page. Place a button below the text that links to the next page, and make a button on the last page that links back to your home page or wherever the visitor came from. Use templates where possible.

If you have a Flash movie intro for your Web site (discussed later), it would be better to put it on a separate page before the home page. Be sure to add a "Skip Intro" button so that visitors who don't want to wait for the intro to load, or who have seen it before, can easily skip to your home page. Using cookies, you could also have a visitor's browser automatically skip the intro if he or she has visited your Web site before. You can also choose to just put a link to your intro on your home page.

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Related Book

The Art and Science of Web Design
Author : Jeffrey Veen
Publisher : New Riders
Published : Jan 2001
Summary :
The Art and Science of Web Design will help you understand the Web from the inside. It is structured around core Web concepts that often get only a passing mention in books on Web design. This book is not a reference book or a style guide. It is your mentor, whispering in your ear all the answers to those ubiquitous questions, and reminding us that there are now new rules and new ways to break them.

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