This is one topic that I thought I’d never touch. There are some common-sense elements of every website that need to be addressed regardless of the type of site you are running – what are the rules for website design? Every designer will tell you one thing, or another — it really comes down to the individual, however like GUI design there are some accepted elements to design.
For example, in the early days of the internet it was OK to throw up splashy pages with lots of GIF animation. But it took it’s toll and now nobody likes to view pages that are graphic intensive and have flashy banners, or cute bunnies jumping over cliffs or other nonsense.
The topic of accepted web design principles or guidelines is not an easy topic to write about. You could develop an entire site on this topic alone, and in fact there is a site called the Web Style Guide that you probably should visit to get some great ideas on how you should design your site. However inspite of the information available there, I’ve done research and presented what I felt are some design principles you should atleast endeavour to follow when designing or redesigning your website.
Your site design needs to be broken down into several areas. The advantage when you use WordPress is that much of the tedious work has been done — this is not to say that WordPress themes are design perfection, that’s why some people pay to get custom themes developed for them.
As you are desiging your site, or planning it you want to pay attention to the user interface. Remember people read left to right in English speaking countries therefore you always want to keep this in mind when ou are desiging your site and determining how and where to place the various objects that make up your site.
If you are trying to monetize your site, you want to draw visitors to the advertising – but also you want them to read the content you have produced.
For example, you want to make it easy for the visitor to subscribe to your RSS FEED. If the Top 100 internet business blogs place a subscribe box in the top right of their page, what do yo think would happen if you decided to place the box in the bottom of your page or top left or some other place where it’s not very common?
You also want to make it easy for the user to find information – for example, keep your “funsy” widgets like BlogCatalog or MyBlogLog closer to the bottom of your page. Is it really important for the visitor to see that right up front in prime real estate? Probably not. Prime real estate is used for your advertising. Don’t confuse your visitors. Make it as easy for them as possible.
In my opinion, here are some tips for desiging your website:
- Control the colors. Use colors sparingly and for crying out loud – the 80′s are OVER so no NEON colors!!!
- You don’t need to center everything on your page.
- Use white space. Don’t be scared of white space. Using white space makes it the content easier to read, and keeps the site uncluttered.
- Please no more animated gifs/banners and such. That is so 90′s. If you’re ever thinking of becoming a professional blogger or a serious internet marketer – act professionally. Animation can be fine, but you don’t need to be obnixous. Be subtle!
- Organize the site. Keep related content/information together. Have a FAQ? Keep the information there – why present parts of a FAQ on your ABOUT page? Link to the FAQ on your ABOUT page if you must present some information to the visitor.
- How many fonts on one page? One, maybe two. Why would anyone want to use any more? It just makes your pages look like crap.
- Vertical scrolling is fine. Horizontal will make my head spin. Please, please, please – no horizontal scrolling. Again that’s so 90′s.
- KISS – keep it simple stupid. Do I need to say more?
- Test your site in different browsers and resolutions. Just becuase you have a 30″ monitor, does not mean that I do. Your site should run nicely on a 15″ monitor — most people that use laptops are on 15″ monitors. Most desktop users are probably at 19″ monitors. Strike a happy medium or use CSS so that your design is elastic.
- Make sure your site loads quickly – again, test, test, test.
- NO FRAMES. NO FRAMES. NO FRAMES. Write that out a trillion times. NO FRAMES.
- Make sure your site is not boring, and outdated (i.e., you need a fresh design).
This list could go on, and on, and on… you get the picture.
Here are a couple resources for you:
- http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/ - wow, there are some doozies there. I can’t believe that some sites are still coded so badly! Honestly some of the sites will have you saying OMG.