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.

Effective Design Of Your Website’s Layout

A layout is equivalent to a map, which should trace the route to a specific location. Similarly, the layout of a website is designed according to users needs, and thus lead them to specific actions. A careful analysis process will help define, from the point of view of visitors of the website, the priorities of the layout.

As a website is designed to meet the needs of visitors, we must take into account what they expect. It is not appropriate to assume what people want to see on our website. Instead, we must ask: Why do people visit my site? what are they looking for? What is their primary need?,How I can satisfy that need? And similar questions.

In large projects of web design, people use different instruments to find the answers to these questions. Sometimes they use a questionnaire to focus groups. But if you do not have much budget, then you must change the design strategies.

Use the following strategies to create an appropriate layout to your audience:

1. Identify the interests of visitors: You must know the interests and preferences of people who will access the website. Only then we will present information relevant and interesting to them.
2. Think as if you were the guest: By seeing yourself as the visitor (figuratively) you can define what is important and what is not important.
3. Define the topics in order of interest: Once you have defined the topics, proceed to organize them in order of interest or preference of the visitor.

Design a layout on paper and define the functional areas:

Take a pencil and paper. Yes, these two instruments that never go outdated. These instruments provide many benefits in the creative process. So, on paper, define the functional areas of the website: the places of the page designed for specific functions. Some examples are: title, sub-title, pictures and text, among others.

1- Draw the table with it’s respective rows and columns.

2- Create grouped small boxes to place items of minor interests that were defined previously.

3- Create a larger box to emphasize a topic of interest. If you want to highlight various topics, create the boxes the same size and aligned them with the same margin.

4- Distribute the contents of the website in sub-parts. Make a uniform layout for the entire website. The scheme must be flexible enough to add some unique items on each page (banners, text tickers, etc.). It is not necessary to publish all information on the main page (home page). Use the technique of the element of surprise through the website. Users will find fascinating surprises while visiting a site. So, distributing your content across multiple webpages is a good idea. Present on the main page elements that appeal to gain the interest of the visitor.

To carefully plan the layout of the site, think more of usability and easy navigation. Visitors will appreciate the value of the site and visit often.

Effective Designs For Email Marketing

Like choosing your own style…contemporary…country…modern…or mixed, pick a design for your email marketing that describes you…immediately and continuously…to your reader.

Your emails are your business image. They need a consistent and professional business image that matches what you’re marketing. Your brand identity tells your readers what they’re getting is from a trustworthy and familiar source.

To have the positive affect you’re looking for, your emails should be easily scannable. Most people don’t read all of the text, but even for those who do, they will first scan the document for important points before deciding to read more. If the message doesn’t scan quickly, they won’t pay attention for a long enough period to understand your message…let alone take action.

Pick a format that matches your message…is it a newsletter or an invitation? Then, put your content in a visually pleasing arrangement. To design your email for easy scannability and identity, you’ll want to work in HTML. You can hire an HTML programmer if you’re not familiar with HTML and have them build a template for you. There are any number of good-quality template design services available.

You can also start with an email template from your ESP (internet service provider), with a newsletter or promotion format, then customize it with your own layout and design elements before inserting your content. Some ESP’s have customizable templates for a variety of formats.

If you’re designing a newsletter, the standard layout has one, two, or three columns. Because we’re used to reading news items in a manner similar to the newspaper, it is customary…and expected by your readers…that your format will match.

Promotions generally have one or more offers and are generally arranged in one column, or sometimes two. Announcements and greetings are arranged in a single column.

Matching your content to the proper format is how you convey to your audience the main idea of your message. This helps the reader decide quickly how to interact.

For an email newsletter format, your content will most likely meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • multiple calls to action
  • is informational rather than promotional
  • is sent on a regular basis to provide informational updates
  • needs a consistent look in order to tie multiple themes together
  • contains multiple headlines and messages targeted to multiple audiences

If you are sending a promotional email, your main focus…important for design elements…is to ask the reader to take a certain course of action.

You can choose from a wide variety of promotional e-mail templates, but whichever you choose, ensure the links, text, headlines and images all focus on the main call to action. The content, as well, must all be related to the main topic and written to help the reader make the decision to act.

Promotional emails generally contain the following:

  • one main theme asking for action…either to purchase or make a commitment of some kind
  • design elements centered around the actions your message is promoting
  • a sales promotion delivered regularly or driven by an event such as a holiday sale, inventory reduction, overstock or some other event to which the promotion is tied

Whether you’re working on a newsletter, promotion, invitation, or other communication, keep the design and content scannable, usable, and memorable. Let it represent you and your business in a friendly, professional manner that fits the email format and works well for your customers and you.