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Basic Website Design Guidelines

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W3C Validated: XHTML | CSS

Following are some basic principals for designing web pages. Of course, thee are many more technical issue to cover, but as a basic guide, this should help most people.

Home Page
Your Home page should clearly indicate what the site is about. Provide top level web design development by having navigation on the first page, your logo, and tell the visitor what he can find on your web site.

It should be informative, and should prompt your visitor to act. The Home page is the place where the visitor decides what he/she will do: click on some of your links, or leave the site. If you have a discount, or if you offer some free service in attempt to make a contact with potential customers, make sure to provide link to that service on your home page.

Macromedia Flash
If you decide to implement flash intro on your first page, make sure to give the user possibility to skip the flash intro. The link “skip intro” should be outside of the flash, because you will force the visitor to wait until the Flash movie is loaded. If the Flash movie is large (over 60kb) it should also include a loading message. Flash should NEVER be the sole means by which a visitor navigates your website. If a sound track is included, it should be subtle, relevant to the movie, and be able to be controlled by an on/off button, and possibly a volume control.

Navigation structure
Place the navigation on the place where the people are used too look for it. Don’t experiment with the navigation! Web design development won’t progress without this. Keep the navigation system the same on ALL pages. Visitors are not ready to learn your site navigation system. Consistency is the most important thing here. You should focus your effort on building consistent rhythm across all pages of your site.

Font size
Your font size should be enough big so your text can be read without effort. There are many people who will not bother to read very small letters. Don’t lose your visitors because of font size. Optimal size seems to be about 10 - 12pt Verdana. Visitors should be able to read your text easily – break up big blocks of text in paragraphs to make them easier to comprehend.

Line Length
The length of a line of type should be comfortable to read. The optimal line length for printed materials seems to be about 10 to 12 words, or 60 to 70 characters. Somewhat shorter lines of about 40 to 50 characters may be more appropriate for larger displays. If the line is too long the reader must search for the beginning of it; if it is too short it will break up words or phrases awkwardly. This is the dilemma in using scaling web pages – i.e., pages that fill up the whole screen. Making people read blocks of text that go right across the screen is not recommended.

Creating emphasis
Creating emphasis is an important and integral part of designing and typesetting. Handled with taste and good judgment it can help direct and inform the reader. When these qualities are lacking, or someone feels that every word is important and must be emphasized in some way then your web page starts to look like a battlefield and becomes difficult to read!

It’s well known that one picture worth more than million words. This rule applies on the Internet too. Do your best to show a clear, attractive photo of your product. If you offer a service, find a photo which will best describe it. However, be careful about file size. Don’t compress your photo to such a point that it becomes unclear, or rough. Using jpeg compression at about 20% should give a good result.

Gif vs. JPEG
Less experienced web designers many times use the wrong format to store their picture. Here are few guidelines which will help you avoid this common mistake:

.gif image - correct

.jpeg image - incorrect
Note the two examples at the left - you will see many examples of where people have used a jpeg image in the wrong place - it is obvious even to the untrained eye that the colour wash out ruins what may be a good image otherwise.

Do your best to reduce the download time. We live in a busy world and people are not willing to wait a long time. Try to reduce the size of your graphics as much as possible without destroying the image. Images must look good, but the size (in KB) should be as small as possible. Ensuring you are using the correct file type (see GIF vs. JPEG above) will help you as well.

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 do not work or that some of your images do not appear. Even if someone does, it is quite embarrassing. Perform spell and grammar checking. Remember that in many cases a visitor will build his opinion about you or your company based on your web site. When published, your site should not contain any “under construction” or “coming soon” messages. Bear all these details in mind and you will be successful in your Web Design/Development.

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