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