The most important rule in web design is that your web site
should be easy to read. What does this mean? You should choose your text and background colours very carefully.
You don't want to use backgrounds that obscure your text or use colours that are hard to read. Dark-coloured
text on a light-coloured background is easier to read than light-coloured text on a dark background.
You also don't want to set your text size too small (hard to
read) or too large (it will appear to shout at your visitors). All capitalised letters give the appearance of
shouting at your visitors.
Keep the alignment of your main text to the left, not
cantered. Centre-aligned text is best used in headlines. You want your visitors to be comfortable with what they
are reading, and most text is left aligned.
Your web site should be easy to navigate
All your hyperlinks should be clear to your visitors. Graphic
images, such as buttons or tabs, should be clearly labelled and easy to read. Your web graphic designer should
select the colours, backgrounds, textures, and special effects on your web graphics very carefully. It is more
important that your navigational buttons and tabs be easy to read and understand than to have "flashy" effects.
Link colours in your text should be familiar to your visitor (blue text usually indicates an unvisited link and
purple or maroon text usually indicates a visited link), if possible. If you elect not to use the default
colours, your text links should be emphasized in some other way (boldfaced, a larger font size, set between
small vertical lines, or a combination of these). Text links should be unique - they should not look the same as
any other text in your web pages. You do not want people clicking on your headings because they think the
headings are links.
Your visitors should be able to find what they are looking
for in your site within three clicks. If not, they are very likely to click off your site as quickly as they
Your web site should be easy to find
How are your visitors finding you online? The myth, "If I
build a web site, they will come," is still a commonly held belief among companies and organisations new to the
Internet. People will not come to your web site unless you promote your site both online and
Web sites are promoted online via search engines,
directories, award sites, banner advertising, electronic magazines (e-zines) and links from other web sites. If
you are not familiar with any of these online terms, then it is best that you have your site promoted by an
online marketing professional.
Web sites are promoted offline via the conventional
advertising methods: print ads, radio, television, brochures, word-of-mouth, etc. Once you have created a web
site, all your company's printed materials including business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, etc.
should have your URL printed on them.
Not only should your web site be easy to find, but your
contact information should be easy to find. People like to know that there is a person at the other end of a web
site who can help them if:
They need answers to questions which are not readily
available on your web site;
Some element on your site is not working and end
users need to be able to tell you about it, and
Directory editors need you to modify parts of your
site to be sure that your site is placed in the most relevant category.
By giving all relevant contact information (physical address,
telephone numbers, fax numbers, and email address), you are also creating a sense of security for your end
users. They can contact you in the way that makes them feel the most comfortable.
Your web page layout and design should be consistent
throughout the site
Just as in any document formatted on a word processor or as
in any brochure, newsletter, or newspaper formatted in a desktop publishing program, all graphic images and
elements, typefaces, headings, and footers should remain consistent throughout your web site. Consistency and
coherence in any document, whether it is a report or a set of web pages, project a professional
For example, if you use a drop shadow as a special effect in
your bullet points, you should use drop shadows in all your bullets. Link-colours should be consistent
throughout your web pages. Typefaces and background colours, too, should remain the same throughout your
Colour-coded web pages need this consistency. Typefaces,
alignment in the main text and the headings, background effects, and the special effects on graphics should
remain the same. Only the colours should change.
Your web site should be quick to
Studies have indicated that visitors will quickly lose
interest in your web site if most of a page does not download within 15 seconds. (Artists' pages should have a
warning at the top of their pages.) Even web sites that are marketed to high-end users need to consider download
times. If your business does not have good brand name recognition, it is best to keep your download time as
short as possible.
A good application of this rule is adding animation to your
site. Sure, animation looks "cool" and does initially catch your eye, but animation graphics tend to be large
files. Test the download time of your pages first. If the download time of your page is relatively short and the
addition of animation does not unreasonably increase the download time of your page, then and ONLY then should
animation be a consideration.
Finally, before you consider the personal preferences of your
web page design, you should consider all the above rules FIRST and adapt your personal preferences accordingly.
The attitude "I don't like how it looks" should always be secondary to your web site's function. Which is more
important: creative expression/corporate image or running a successful business?