a lot of websites out there floating around in
cyberspace, screaming for attention. When you cast your site out
into the void, will you be able to catch viewers and hold on to
them? Will they click through - or click off?
have the content. You have a message. You need to present
in a professional and attractive manner quickly, before the
viewer hits that return key. A few basic design skills will help
1. The first important step is to provide a CENTER OF INTEREST
to catch the viewer's eye.
This can be your logo,
graphic, a gripping photograph. This should be at the top left
or center of your site page. Say you have an online nursery
business. You might splash a stunning photo of billowing red
begonias across the top of your page. Right under it you could
have your logo and business name. Or, you could have the logo
and/or name printed right on the photo, just make sure it's VERY
legible. Nothing spoils a photo more than faint unrecognizable
smears on it.
2. From your center of interest object, you need to make sure
people quickly see/read what you think is most important for
them to know. Don't put paragraphs of text.
with it, and may even leave your site. Think poster. A web page
is like a poster. Present information briefly and design it so
the whole poster can be read quickly. To do this, you need to
have EYE TRAVEL. This means planning graphics, tables, or short
text snips to be placed on the page in such a pattern as to lead
your viewers along the page to see what you want them to see
without their making a conscious effort. Remember people read
left to right, top to bottom. This is natural. Make use of it.
don't be afraid of blank space!! Did you hear me? Don't
afraid of blank space! Give your text and graphics room to
breathe! <p> things apart. Make your table cells big. Put in
spacers. A star in a black sky is more visible than the same
star in the Milky Way.
3. Unify your site.
Use REPETITION. Keep the same background
color/image from page to page. Put your logo on each page in the
same place. Use the same text color from page to page. If you
have those billowing begonias on your index page, use a begonia
flower for all your navigation buttons. Whatever you choose as
navigation buttons, use the same ones on each page. If you use a
text graphic for navigation, repeat that from page to page.
Whatever. Repetition is comfortable. It holds the site together.
4. Of course, the same thing all the time could be boring to the
So you do need some VARIETY. Back to the
business. Perhaps all the bulbs pages would have a green
background, while all the herbs pages could have a blue
background, and the annuals a yellow background. But they might
all have the same basic layout otherwise. When you introduce
variety into your design, make it logical. Have a reason for it.
All of your navigation buttons could be flowers, different for
each section. Balance out repetition and variety so that your
site is unified, but interesting.
5. Be kind to your viewer.
Restrain yourself from obnoxious animation. Use it sparingly and carefully, if at all.
music minima, if at all. Make the font big enough to read
easily. Contrast the colors of the font and of the background so
that the text shows up clearly. If you use a splash page, tell
the viewer what to do to get into your site.
visual design keeps a viewer at your site. It inspires
confidence in your product. Go to a search engine and bring up
sites similar to yours and critique them. Get ideas. Then use
them. Be a designer. Make your site a Presence on the web.
while you're surfing around the net, check out my website
http://www.clovenstone.com, just for the fun of it. Maybe it'll
give you an idea.
Ruth McIntyre-Williams holds a Master of Arts in art, and has
been a computer graphics design specialist for the National Park
Service. She is now retired, and does free-lance website design.
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