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What makes a good web design?

1) Get the viewer to your site – “Bums on seats”

It’s all very well saying it a nice web design when no one goes to the site other than the owner and their friends. SEO is the most important thing to have in your mind at the start.

2) Message Punch – “This is the place”

Good web design is about ensuring the viewer IMEDIATELY gets the message the site owner wants to put over. How often have you left a site for the Google or Bing listings again, within a few SECONDS, because you couldn’t find what you came for? How do you make your message punch!? Easy, using the positioning, size, colour & contrast, medium and features a web designer will draw one’s attention to the message – think of the chevrons at a sharp bend. Establishing an atmosphere through visual web design. Base your design on your target audience’s expectations whilst still ensuring the message you are communicating, and access to content is easy.

3) Fit for the purpose – “don’t let then trip up and limp off”

Ok, so thanks to good SEO and web design, you have a web site running. Now you want your viewers to say to colleague “Go away I am busy reading this web page” and this now simpy comes down to good copy, good English and an easy to read text layout

Can it actually be done? You might have picked an amazing font for your body copy, but is it actually a standard HTML font? You might have a design that looks beautiful but is 1100px wide and will result in a horizontal scroller for the majority of users. It’s important to know what can and can’t be done, which is why I believe all Web designers should also build sites, at least sometimes. What happens when a screen is resizes? Do you need repeating backgrounds? How will they work? Is the design centered or left-aligned? Are you doing anything that is technically difficult? Even with CSS positioning, some things like vertical alignment are still a bit painful and sometimes best avoided. Could small changes in your design greatly simplify how you build it? Sometimes moving an object around in a design can make a big difference in how you have to code your CSS later. In particular, when elements of a design cross over each other, it adds a little complexity to the build. So if your design has, say three elements and each element is completely separate from each other, it would be really easy to build. On the other hand if all three overlap each other, it might still be easy, but will probably be a bit more complicated. You should find a balance between what looks good and small changes that can simplify your build. For large sites, particularly, can you simplify things? There was a time when I used to make image buttons for my sites. So if there was a download button, for example, I would make a little download image. In the last year or so, I’ve switched to using CSS to make my buttons and have never looked back. Sure, it means my buttons don’t always have the flexibility I might wish for, but the savings in build time from not having to make dozens of little button images are huge

4) Easy to read text

Good web design uses fonts, font size, line and paragraph spacing, column spacing and space generally to ensure that the text is easy to read. A good web designer will use “call outs” or paragraph heading to tempt further reading and not simply to mark a section because that’s what one does with headings. Make sure the font you are using is lightly to be available on your target machines.

5) Navigation Design

Well yes you design navigation on your web site. How many clocks does it take to get somewhere? Navigation depth is important. Most people get bored and go if the don’t get to the ‘good’ within 3 clicks. The navigation system can be designed with bread crumbs – showing you the pages where you’ve come and where you are at now. A site map too is a good idea. How deep is your web site menu going to go before a a web page pops up?

More to come soon…