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WEB DEVELOPMENT

The Birth of a Professional Web Site Part Three Basic Web Design Guidelines
By: Developer Shed
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    2003-08-09

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    The Birth of a Professional Web Site Part Three Basic Web Design Guidelines
    by Shelley Lowery


    The appearance of your web site is one of the most important
    aspects of your success. Your product or service will
    literally be judged by the appearance of your web site.

    Poor web design is one of the leading causes of small
    business failure. There are literally thousands of home-
    based Internet businesses struggling to make a living
    online. Most, make very little or no money and end up
    closing their site in defeat.

    I have received many messages over the years from struggling
    Internet marketers wanting to know if I could look at their
    site and tell them what they're doing wrong. Most of the
    time, I can tell them the problem as soon as their site has
    loaded -- poor web design. They failed to take the time to
    learn how to properly design their sites -- how to design a
    professional looking site specifically designed to sell
    their products and services.

    If you really want to succeed, you must take the required
    time to educate yourself.

    Creating a Template

    When you begin designing your web site, your goal should be
    to create a template that you can use to create each page of
    your web site. This will give your entire site the same look
    and feel.

    A template is simply a web page "shell" that contains your
    entire page design, logo, images, navigational links and a
    specific area for your content. However, your template won't
    contain any content, as each time you create a page with
    your template, you'll save it with a different page name.

    Formatting Your Pages

    I highly recommend placing your entire page content within
    HTML tables. Tables will enable you to have complete control
    over your content and how it will be displayed.

    For example, you can create three tables, stacked on top of
    each other, for each section of content. The cellpadding,
    cellspacing and border attributes should be set to "0" to
    enable your tables to seamlessly flow together. In addition,
    the widths for each table should be the same. The top table
    would contain your page header content, the middle table
    would contain your content and the bottom table would
    contain your footer content.

    As placing your entire page content within a single table
    will significantly increase your site's load time, stacking
    your tables will enable you to benefit from the powerful
    formatting capabilities of tables, while at the same time,
    keep your site's load time down.

    If you've ever designed a web page without using tables, you
    know how limited you are as to how your content will be
    displayed. Your text will be displayed right up against the
    left border and will span across the entire width of your
    page -- certainly not a good way to design a professional
    looking web site.

    Tables will enable you to display your content in sections
    like a newspaper, set up a specific number of rows and
    columns, and even place additional tables within your main
    content table to create special content sections with
    colored backgrounds.

    Your Storefront

    Your main page is the storefront for your business and
    should specifically let your visitors know exactly what
    you're offering. If your potential customer can't find your
    product or service, they definitely won't waste a lot of
    time looking for it. They'll go on to the next site and
    probably never return. They're visiting your site for a
    specific purpose. They want something your site offers.
    Provide them with what they're looking for and you'll reap
    the benefits.

    Branding will play a major role in your success. Make sure
    you place your company logo and slogan in the top left
    corner of each page. This will not only assist your visitors
    in remembering your site, but it will also give your pages
    the same look and feel.

    Instead of trying to cram all your content into your main
    page, consider creating sections. These sections can contain
    highlights of your information with a link to further
    information. You can set your sections up in tables with
    colored heading sections for information such as articles,
    products or whatever you'd like.

    It's much better to keep your main page down to the most
    essential elements and link to the detailed informational
    pages.

    A good rule of thumb is "less is more." In other words, keep
    your main page as small as possible and include your most
    important elements.

    Navigation

    When you begin designing your pages, keep in mind, your
    visitors may enter your site from pages other than your
    main. Make sure you include good navigational links on every
    page. Place your navigational links together at the top,
    bottom, left or right side of the page. Use tables to neatly
    align your links and maintain a nicely organized and uniform
    appearance throughout.

    Try to keep the number of clicks required to get from your
    main page to any other page on your site down to three or
    four.

    Fonts

    One of the most important parts of a web page is text. The
    way in which you display the text on your web page will have
    a great impact on your success. It can make your page look
    very professional or very unprofessional.

    When placing text within your web page, always be consistent
    with your fonts. In other words, don't use different fonts
    throughout your pages. The standard fonts used on the
    Internet are Arial and Verdana. The standard text size is 2.
    Arial and Verdana are the standard simply because they are
    the easiest to read on a computer screen.

    Headlines, which require a larger font size, are a bit
    different. A popular headline font used is Georgia, as it
    displays nicely in the slightly larger font size.

    Background and Text Colors

    Use caution when selecting your background and text colors.
    Busy backgrounds make text difficult to read and draw the
    attention away from the text. In addition, always be
    consistent with your background theme on each page of your
    site.

    Select your colors very carefully, as colors affect your
    mood and will have an affect on your visitors as well.

    Bright colors, such as yellow and orange, cause you to
    become more cheerful or happy. Colors such as blue and
    purple have a calming effect. Dark colors, such as brown and
    black, have a depressing effect.

    A good rule of thumb is to use colors based on the type of
    effect you're trying to achieve. However, it's always best
    for your text areas to have a white background with black
    text.

    Above all else, you must take the time to educate yourself
    before you begin. I can't stress this point enough. If you
    don't, you're honestly just wasting your time. Although it
    may take a little longer, it will be well worth it in the
    long run.

    (Continued in part four)


    Copyright © Shelley Lowery 2003.

    About the Author:

    Shelley Lowery is the author of the highly acclaimed ebook
    series, Web Design Mastery -- An eight volume (500+ pages)
    in-depth guide to professional web design. Web Design
    Mastery is being hailed as the "Bible" for professional web
    design. http://www.webdesignmastery.com



    You have permission to publish this article electronically, in print, in your ebook or on your web site, free of charge, as long as the author bylines are included.


    Part Two
    Part Four



    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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