Web sites are everywhere. The internet has exploded and made terms like “www”, “URL” and “.com” household words. There are so many software tools and programming languages you can use to create wonderful web sites. You don’t need to be technically gifted to create a killer site. However, if you stick to some basic design rules, your site will be crisp, clean and esthetically pleasing even if you don’t know the difference between JSP, ASP and PHP.
1) Plan your design before you start ‘coding’. If you just get into your text editor or fancy software program and start creating without a plan or a destination in mind, your site could be a mish-mash of different styles or worse – have no direction. A web site should be easy to navigate. In order for you to make your site logical, you have to think before you code.
You may decide to draw it out free-hand or make an outline in your word processing program. The medium isn’t as important as the fact that you think logically about what you want to include in your site and plan it out first.
2) Use no more than two fonts on your site. Many neophytes often make the mistake of using too many fonts on a web page. One or two fonts is sufficient throughout your ENTIRE web site – unless, you are a font designer, then well, this doesn’t apply. Your text should be uniform throughout. When choosing a font, it’s better to use Serif fonts for longer text and Sans Serif for headlines and shorter text.
Note: Serif fonts are those that have a decorative line added as an embellishment. Times New Roman is the most common Serif-font.
Sans Serif fonts do NOT have line embellishments (the little curves at the end of the characters) Helvetica is a great example of a web-friendly Sans-Serif font.
3) Use tables instead of frames. Although frame technology isn’t exactly cutting-edge anymore, many web designers still prefer using HTML tables to frames. Why? Well, for one, not every browser supports frames, but all browsers support at least HTML 3.2, which has a wealth of table-technology built into it. Anything you’d want to do with a frame, you could do with a table and, by using a table, and you can guarantee that the vast majority of your users can view your design.
4) Incorporate white space into your web pages. White space is a bit of a misnomer. It doesn’t mean that the area has to be white. White space is basically area without text. One of the biggest problems with many web sites today is that they are too busy. By incorporating white space into your design, you give over-stimulated web visitors a bit of an oasis within your design.
5) Stick to 216 cross-platform color. These are the colors that are viewable by just about everyone whether they are on an older or newer machine, use (gasp!) dial-up, DSL or cable modem, or are on a PC or Macintosh. What good is a fantastic color that you custom-create that no one can see?
Basically, if you follow these five rules, your designs will be simple without being simplistic, viewable by the vast majority of internet users and esthetically pleasing. Your site will be classy and classic. It won’t send end-users into a tizzy with long waits for downloadable graphics and media. Happy end-users yield repeat visits and increased traffic, which is, as a web designer, your ultimate goal.