Anyone thinking about building their own website should be encouraged not to jump straight into thinking about what it’s going to look like. There’s much more to think about than just what colours you like, how many columns you have and where to put the picture of your pet dog! Learning web design correctly will make the design process much simpler and you’ll end up with a professional-looking website that fulfils its purpose rather than one that visitors don’t like.
Learning web design properly will ensure that you consider all the aspects necessary for a good-looking website. Obviously design and layout are important but there are other key factors that you should take into account which can have an effect on whether your site succeeds or fails.
Important factors that should be covered when you’re learning web design should include the following 8 points. These can all have a major impact on whether your site looks great or just “homemade”.
• Be clear – Visitors to your site should be able to see in a matter of seconds what the site is about so clear about your message. If they can’t understand your site straight away they’ll just click on to the next site.
• Use Cyberbites – Break the content up into short sentences and concise paragraphs. Web surfers tend to scan content rather than reading it. They pick out headings, sub-headings and bulleted lists so use these to break up your text and highlight important points.
• Avoid clutter – Cluttered sites encourage confusion for the visitor. Keep your site clean and well laid out. Use plenty of white space around important content so that it stands out and keep navigation consistent so that visitors know where it will be throughout the site.
• Avoid unnecessary fancy fonts or flashing/moving text. Always make sure that the fonts you use are clear and easy to read on a screen. What looks nice in print doesn’t always work well on screen so make sure you test your fonts. Keep your fonts consistent across the site as well to give a polished feel to the overall design. Flashing or moving text will distract the user and probably encourage them to click off your site, it’s really, really annoying!
• Avoid splash or introduction pages – Anyone learning web design will be told not to put extra steps in their visitor’s way. When people get to your website they want to find information, not fancy flash intros or music.
• Limit scrolling – Many websites include some vertical scrolling. That’s fine but try to keep the important stuff “above the fold”, i.e. on the visible part of the screen. Some surfers might not bother to scroll down unless something catches their eye and convinces them your site has what they’re looking for. Never, ever build a site that has horizontal scrolling. When you’re learning web design you should find out about screen resolutions and web site sizing.
• Don’t include auto-playing music – Think about it, does it add anything to your message? If it doesn’t then don’t use it. It may seem like a nice idea to you but it could well irritate your visitors.
• Use audio or video where appropriate – Video and audio can get your message across very, very quickly and gives the viewer an alternative means of getting the information. Video is a great way to grab and keep visitors attention. Make sure these types of media don’t slow down your pages load time too much though.
Learning web design properly should ensure that you get into good habits when designing and planning your website and that you consider all the above points as a matter of course. This should help make your website intuitive and easy for your visitors to use.