Web Design Principles

Your on-line presence is dependent upon the quality of your website. It is the face of you and your business. The best appearance is one that is clean and uncluttered with a professional layout. A well-designed professional web site is one that is visually appealing, easy to access, easy to navigate, and provides usable, relevant information.

The first thing to be determined with a professional designer is the information architecture of your site. This covers every aspect of your site from layout to navigation and should include the development of a site map and content inventory. This is what distinguishes a well-designed professional site from the beginning. Nothing is thrown together haphazard, and everything is considered carefully to construct a visually appealing, functioning site.

Even though the internet is not print, some of the same visual principles apply. Font choice, margin spacing, ad placement and the utilization of white space should all balance with the most recent, relevant content being the first thing that shows up when users land on your site. This is what newspapers refer to as being “above the fold.” Scrolling should be kept to a minimum, and make sure that all navigation functions are easy to use.

• Layout structure with familiarity appeals best to users. This would include a two to three column format. Strategically placed images and ads should break up text yet add flow. Browser supported fonts that are easily read in appropriate sizes are part of layout considerations.

• Design with white space in mind. White space is not necessarily white; rather it simply refers to the space unoccupied by text or images. Not every ounce of space should be filled with images, ads, and content.

• Site dimensions that optimize viewing of your site should be considered. As monitors have gotten bigger with higher resolution, designing pages have become more interesting. However, it is important to design a site that can be accommodated fairly equally by the average user’s monitor and the more sophisticated user with his monitor.

• Navigating the site should be easy and intuitive. This is what allows users to quickly view additional information such as pages or links without getting lost or frustrated. Including a search engine is a nice added feature.

• Browser compatibility is essential for successfully driving traffic and reaching the most people. Also cross platform compatibility should be factored into the design of your site. You want your site to be accessed regardless of user preferences such as their utilizing a Mac or PC, Firefox or Internet Explorer.

• Content relevance should be considered at all times. Keep your site on target with the message you are sending. Even ads can be chosen with content relevance in mind.

• Social media widgets connect your site to more users. Allowing access via Facebook, Twitter, and creating an RSS Feed option give users more options for accessing your site.

The application of web standards by a professional designer can resolve many issues before they are even raised. Following these standards insures compatibility with browsers and platforms as well as accessibility and navigability. Utilizing CSS is one of the best ways to insure site uniformity, which is also a bonus for user ease.

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