Web Page Design

The Basics Of Web Page Design

When creating your web pages, it pays to think about the following factors:

Navigation

When designing your web pages, you should always put your visitors first. Imagine how they will use your site, and how easy it will be for them to find their way around. This is where your navigation comes in. Try and make the important areas of your site very easy to get to. Ideally, no page should be more than a couple of clicks away from the home page.

Your navigation should be consistent from page to page, to avoid confusing your visitors. They need to be able to locate your menus in the same place, whichever page they are visiting.

File Size

The greater the size of your web page, the longer it will take to load. The longer a visitor has to wait for your page to load, the more likely it is that they will become impatient and go somewhere else. Therefore, it's important to keep file sizes down for your pages.

Images are notorious for increasing file sizes dramatically, so use them sparingly. When you do use them, ensure that you optimise them first, using a graphics editor like Adobe Fireworks, Photoshop or Illustrator. Optimising all your images can reduce page loading times significantly.

Colour Scheme

Again, think about your visitors. You might like fuchsia text on a lime green background, but your visitors might not! My preference is a white background with black text, and many other web designers prefer light coloured background colours and dark coloured text.

What I've noticed on my travels is that sites that cater for the graphics and video gaming audiences, for example, often use dark backgraounds with lighter coloured text.

Cross Browser Compatibility

If you are new to web design, it may surprise you to learn that there are many web browsers out there and they each will render your page differently. You web design may even break in some! Have a look at some browser statistics.

Unfortunately for us, the disparity between the different browsers means that if we care about how our design looks, we must test it in those different browsers. We might find that our pages look good in Internet Explorer, but look awful in Firefox. As we can't guarantee what browser our visitors will be using, its better to make our designs compatible across all the major ones at least.

Save Time By Using A Template

These days, you don't need to spend hours and hours (OK, days and days!) creating a stylish design for your website. You can take advantage of a template that's already been made for you. Many are free, but you can pay for them too.

As a compromise, you could even use a template and tweak it to meet your own needs. This is what many people do.

Learn CSS

If you are serious about web design, then you must learn to use CSS (cascading style sheets). CSS is used to style your web pages. If you create an external stylesheet, you can have it control the styling of every single page on your site. This means that you can make global changes to every page, just by modifying your stylesheet.

In addition to changing the "superficial" aspects of style (e.g. colour) you can control other things like the positioning of elements on teh page. In fact, many web designers have now replaced their table based layouts with CSS layouts. Look at this page, for example. Not a table in site!