Basic Web Design Principles

By: vishal saxena

Home Page
An effective Home page should give a clear and easy view of what the your website is about. It should have a provision of top level navigation on the first page, your logo, and information to tell the visitors on what all he can find in your website. It's the Home page where a visitor decides his next step, either to click on some of your links or just leave the site. So it is important that your Homepage should be informative and easily readable by your visitor. For instance, if you have a discount to offer free service, and to attract your potential customers, make sure to provide a link for that service in your home page itself.

If you are thinking of implementing flash intro in your first page, make sure to give the user an option to skip the flash intro as well.
Options such as: link, skip intro, should be placed outside the flash, or else you will force the visitor to wait until the Flash movie is loaded. And this could eventually dissuade visitor to browse your website further.

Following are some of the points you need to take care of while designing a website.

Navigation structure
Place the navigation on the place where the people would normally look for it and find it easy. Do not experiment with the navigation! Keeping the navigation system same on ALL pages is important as well. A Visitor to your site wouldn't be interested in learning about your site navigation system. So make it simple and effective. Consistency is the key here. You should focus your effort on building consistent rhythm across all the pages of your site.

Font size
Your font size should be big enough so that your text can be read without effort. There are many people who would not like to read very small texts. Using very small fonts can lose you your visitors. For proper fonts, an optimal size can be from 12 to13 points. If this is taken care of, then visitors will find it easy to read your text and if the content is interesting then they might foray in, much further.

Line Length
The length of a line in your contents should be comfortable and make the reading part and easy task. The optimal line length for printed materials can be about 10 to 12 words, or 60 to 70 characters. Shorter lines of about 40 to 50 characters may be more appropriate for larger displays. In case, if the line is too long the reader might miss the important points or the beginning. And if it is too short it will break up words or phrase up awkwardly.

Creating emphasis
Creating emphasis is an important and integral part of designing and typesetting. Handled with proper taste and good judgment it can help direct and inform the reader. Emphasis creation must be done whenever it is appropriate or required. Unnecessary emphasis generation can devalue the whole content.

Graphics
It's a well known fact that one picture is worth more than million words. This rule applies on Internet as well. Do your best to show clear, attractive photo of your products. If you are offering a service, find a photo which will best describe it. However, be careful about file sizes. Don't compress your photo to that level which would make the picture unclear, but also don't leave the photo on full quality. That will make file size too big, and will increase the download time.

Gif vs. JPEG
Less experienced web designers makes this mistake many times of using wrong format to store their picture. Here are few guidelines which will help to avoid such mistakes. If your photo has less number of colors (less then 64) GIF will be better choice. However make sure to reduce the palette size too. That is, if your image has 10-15 colors then reduce your palette for 16 or 32 colors.
Also, if your image contains text, GIF format should be your choice. JPEG uses lossy compression method and can cause text and edges to become more blurry. If you are saving a photograph always save it as JPEG. JPEG images can contain over 32 million different colors.

If you want to incorporate large text into a photographic image, JPEG may be a good format to use. While the edges may still get blurred, chances of the same becoming unreadable is however, slim. If you think your image is more important than the text, then you should save it in JPEG format.

Speed
Do what all you can, to reduce the download time. Its a busy world and people wont prefer to wait for long. Try to reduce size of your graphics as much as possible without damaging the image. Image quality must be maintained and size (in KB) should be as kept as small as possible.

Test before publishing
Do your homework, and do it well. Your visitors will not bother to send you an E-Mail that some of your links does not work or that some of your images does not appear. Even if someone does so, it would be quite embarrassing. Perform spell and grammar checking.

Remember that in many cases visitor will build his opinion about you or your company based on the content's quality of your web site.

Once published, site should not contain any under construction or coming soon messages. This might deter the potential customer to come back again.

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