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Web Design Basics

Using a website should be an easy and enjoyable experience, but many times it can turn out frustrating due to too much or poorly written content, an overload of ads, disorganisation, or gaudy fancy techniques that are off-putting and irksome. And these are the websites designed by the experienced and well paid web designers! Firstly, decide on the layout of your website. Users generally prefer simple layouts, using only 2/3 frames per page so the site is easy to follow.

The most popular layout is 3 columns as you find in newspapers because it is familiar and easy to understand. Stay away from ostentatious designs as users will just get confused and impatient navigating around the site. Pay attention to the white space on your website, this is the area with no text or graphics, users need to rest their eyes and if there isn't enough white space the site can look too busy. The font you select for your site is important as it has to be easy to read, stay with the standard font families, such as Verdana, Geneva, Arial, and Helvetica, which make web pages look better and the designs look good on most web browsers.

Also they are more common to most computer operating systems. Sans-serif fonts are easier to read online because the screen resolution is not high, so use them for any text and serif font for headlines. However, when it comes to print friendly pages this is the reverse as then serif fonts are easier to read when the page is printed out. Also try to use only a few fonts as the more different kinds you use will only make the site look unprofessional and harder to read. Make certain there is enough contrast between the text and background so the text stands out enough to see clearly. Check graphics aren't too big as this will involve your web pages taking a lot longer to load, a feature internet users definitely don't like.

Optimising your images will lead to a faster loading website so try to make the web images as small as you can whilst maintaining the quality. Graphics should be relevant to the subject and match written content. Don't use graphics if they are unrelated to the site, they will just use space and slow down loading time. Images that use blink, move or flash techniques are just a distraction and generally doesn't increase users' attention, just drives them away. When designing your website try not to have pages opening in new windows as users might not find their way back to your site. Remember, users prefer predictable navigation and static menus and keep content short, easy to scan and to the point.

Ensure the web content answers users' questions and use familiar language rather than fancy vocabulary. If you want to add a new feature or advanced technology to your site, consider whether it might be better to spend that money on improving what you already have. Better written content and striking headlines would be more attractive to the user than any flashing technology. Keep to these simple points and your website should be a success.

Michiel Van Kets provides articles for Jon Dunn, who works forSpring Media. A web design company in the UK that creates well designed websites for large and small companies.


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