How to Effectively Design a Website

There are a number of vital website design tips that all website designers should follow to generate a striking first impression for visitors to their site.

The main problem that often occurs is when people log onto a website and then find it takes far too long to load. It does not matter how fantastic the site may appear, if it takes more than a few seconds to load, then you will quickly lose your visitors.

In order to achieve this, it is vital to minimise the use of images. They may enhance a website page, but it is best to avoid placing too many on a page. Instead, keep things simple by using HTML. You will see that major sites have very few images and this is because for them the load time is very important. Simple is often best. Optimise the images prior to placing them on your site. They should be in jpeg of gif format. You can also minimise the size of an image by choosing the colours you need from the colour palette, so the less colours you choose, the less the size of the image.

It is possible to use tables in a creative way because they load very quickly being simple HTML code. You can use tables on your home page, for menus, or wherever you like. Try to reduce animated gifs unless it is absolutely necessary. They take a long time to load and many people find them very irritating. However, used correctly they can be attention grabbing, so minimal use of small ones may add interest to your site.

Experiment with CSS styles and achieve some interesting effects. Once again, CSS is simple code and will load very quickly. Try not to over use Flash. There is a great deal of hype about this subject, but whilst it may look fantastic, it can take a great deal of time to load and may well put off your visitors. Design the majority of your site in HMTL, use tables, experiment with CSS, minimise the use of animated gifs, Flash and bulky images.

Unambiguous navigation is essential. Once a visitor has come to your website, they need to stay on it and look at the pages. All important links should be in prominent places, preferably right at the top of the web page, which is where a visitor usually looks first. Make effective use of the menus on the right and the left, whilst trying to link to as many pages of the site as you can. You should allow your information to be easily accessible from all part of the sit because you never know what a visitor may be interested in.

Links on the web pages should be well organised in accordance with the order of importance. Visitors should easily be able to find what they are looking for under varying categories. Once you have decided on how the site should be navigated, you should then think about the best place to have them. The navigation should both clear and consistent. Designers should try to design navigation at the top or on the left, as this is the first place our eyes visit. Furthermore, the primary links should high enough on the page so that they are clearly visible, without scrolling. Any navigation images used should be seamlessly integrated into the site design. Placing the main navigation links at the foot of the page should be avoided, but it is quite a nice idea to have navigation links both at the top and bottom of the page, so visitors do not have to scroll up and down and in this way, visitors will not miss important links.

Consistency in navigation is essential, with the most important links on a website being on every page in the same location and the same sequence. If you place them in differing places, visitors will become confused.

All resolutions should be catered for so your site is browser compatible. These range from 640 x 480 to 1024 x 768 and may go even higher. The most effective way to do this is in terms of percentage rather than pixels. As time goes by, more and more people are going to switch to higher resolutions so it is vital to design for this. Prior to starting a design, you should decide on your lowest screen resolution. Once you have done this, you then design your site for that resolution.

Readable and professional looking fonts are a must. Therefore, do not use Comic Sans and other fanciful fonts that are not available on many computers. If the font you have chosen to use is not available on the site visitor’s computer, the website will use the default font of your computer, which is far worse.

The use of white space is important because visitors will not want to see a site cluttered up with far too many images, background and colourful fonts. This is too confusing for the eye. Once again, keep things simple by minimising the amount of graphics and using a lot of white space, which will give a sense of spaciousness and overall neatness to a website.

Always check for broken links within a website prior to uploading it to the server. This is fairly straightforward in Dreamweaver and several other packages of this kind, so there is no excuse.

If these simple guidelines are followed, then your site visitors will have a rewarding experience when they visit your web pages.