Website Design

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A Beginners Guide to Website Design .
Web Site Design - Content and Layout.
Marketing Strategies for the Web Site Designer.
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A Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Advertising your Site with Google Adwords.
A Beginners Guide to Website Design.

1. Introduction

When creating a web page, one must adhere to certain basic rules with regards to structure and form. A web page must be visually attractive in order to captcher a person’s attention, but more importantly it must be well organized into a coherent fashion. A web site design that is very busy and in no particular order will discourage potential clients.

To create a website design that captures your visitors interest, it is imperative that you place your most important information and products at the top of the page. Give your clients some kind of incentive to purchase from your company e.g. free shipping on orders over a certain amount etc.. Make sure that the incentive is in a very visible position through out the site, especially on the front page.

2. A web page consists of three basic elements:

(a) Header

The header of a site is the top portion and contains the websites logo and some form of images/design for aesthetic purposes. You can also place a sale or incentive banner in the page header.

(b) Navigation menu

This is the collection of links in your site and must be ordered in a logical fashion. Each link points to an individual page. Group similar links and links that fall into the same category together e.g. place all product category links next to each other and all company detail links next to each other.

There are a number of places one can place the navigation menu. Most commonly, the navigation menu will be placed in the header, running horizontally, below the logo and any banners or vertically on the left hand side of the screen. There are a number of different forms of navigation menu that one can utilize. The decision on which type to use will be dictated by the number of pages/links in your site.

Sites with a small number of links can utilize a simple navigation structure where each menu item leads to a single page. If you have many pages in your site, and thus many links, you can utilize one of the many forms of dynamic menu navigation structures.

Dynamic menus are drop down menus, in the case of a horizontal navigation structure, or vertical fly-out menus in the case of a vertical menu structure. Essentially each menu item is a main category and when the mouse pointer is placed over the menu item, a sub-menu containing all the sub-categories dynamically slides out. You can view an example of a horizontal drop-down menu here, and a vertical fly-out menu here.

(c). Content

The content forms the main part of the page and must be well laid out in a logical fashion. The most effective and successful web pages contain clear headings and sub-headings and even numbered ordered lists of details. Always place your most important content at the top of the page.

3. Images

Images are a very important aspect of any website. Sites that contain low quality images portray a low quality website and reflect poorly on your business. On the other hand, a website with clear and professional images will portray a professional quality website and give confidence to your clients. Website images consist of a thumbnail image and a large image. The thumbnail image is a small copy of the main image. When clicking on the thumbnail image, the large image is then displaid. Make sure to place a link below the thumbnail image that reads "click to enlarge".

The reason for using thumbnail images is so you can accomodate many images on a single page and also enabled the page to load faster. The following compressed image formats are suitable for internet usage: gif, jpg, png. Theses are low resolution formats, usually around 72dpi, and will load quickly. Don't be discouraged by the term low resolution, as this is the standard for internet use and will display very clear when viewed online. The reason why low resolution images are used is that they load faster.

4. Code

There are various coding languages that one can use to program a web page. A basic page that does not offer any functionality is called a static web page and can be coded using static code such as html or css. Html is code that determines the layout of the page and the formatting of the text. Css does exactly the same thing, but is allot more compressed resulting in a quicker load time. Css is a newer form of code and is developing very quickly and will probably take the place of html in the near future. The newer standards of css now include some aspects of dynamic functionality. One can also use a combination of html and css, which is the standard employed by most websites today.

Dynamic code is progarmming language that performs functions. There are many different types of dynamic code e.g. php, cfm, asp, JavaScript, flash etc.. Dynamic code has many different uses. This subject is very vast and is for advanced programmers, and thus does not fit into the scope of this article.

5. Loading speed

It is absolutely imperative that a web page loads quickly. Most internet users will not wait for a page that loads slowly and instead will move on to another website. Try to keep loading time to under 10 seconds for a DSL connection.

It is also important to ensure that a web page loads progressively, from top to bottom. This will enable the person accessing the page to begin reading content while the rest of the page is loading. There are many techniques that one can utilize to ensure that a page loads quickly e.g. optimize your images, use fewer images per page, avoid flash, minimize html requests, separate various components of a web page to reside on different servers to allow for concurrent downloading, ensure that your site resides on a good quality server etc.. The subject of loading speed is vast and is discussed in more detail in this article - How to optimize the load time of your website.

6. Index page

It is worth mentioning some design aspects regarding the home page as this is the most important page of the website. Your home page is the entry page for most of your site visitors. The home page is always labeled index as this is how the search engines identify this page as being the home page of your website.

Start out at the top of the page with some welcome text that describes what products and services your company offers. It is also a good idea to include some detail on positive aspects of your company, and what makes you better that your competition. Basically you want to tell your customers why they you should buy from you.

If you are in the business of selling goods or services, you might want to place some sale items and featured items on the home page. Click here to view a page containing the above elements.

If your range of products and services covers many categories, make sure to devote at least a small paragraph to each category on your home page.

The purpose of this article is merely a broad outline of some of the most important aspects of good web page design.

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