Effective Web Site Design

Website Design Basics

Web design is different than traditional print publishing. Every website is an information display container, just as a book is a container; and every web page is like the page in a book. However the end size and shape of the web page is not known to the web designer, whereas the print designer will know exactly what size paper he will be printing on.

For the typical web sites, the basic aspects of design are:

  • The content: the substance, and information on the site should be relevant to the site and should target the area of the public that the website is concerned with.
  • The usability: the site should be user-friendly, with the interface and navigation simple and reliable.
  • The appearance: the graphics and text should include a single style that flows throughout, to show consistency. The style should be professional, appealing and relevant.
  • The structure: of the web site as a whole.

A web site typically consists of text, images, animation and /or video. The first page of a web site is known as the Home page or Index Page. Some web sites use what is commonly called a Splash Page. Splash pages might include a welcome message, language or region selection, or disclaimer, however search engines, in general, favor web sites that don't do this which has caused these types of pages to fall out of favor. Each web page within a web site is a file which has its own URL. After each web page is created, they are typically linked together using a navigation menu composed of hyperlinks.

Once a web site is completed, it must be published or uploaded in order to be viewable to the public over the internet. This may be done using an FTP client.

Common Questions

Over the years we have received many questions about the website design process. Sometimes we stay in our "tech world" and need to be reminded to explain things in basic terms. Here are the most common questions we are asked:

What font type can I use on my website?

Although there are a lot of fonts to pick from, you are best to design your website with "web safe fonts" to be sure your text displays as you intended. If your website is designed with a font that isn't installed on the users computer, tablets, and mobile device or if your browser's CSS support is poor, then what the viewer sees is different from what you intended. For example if you decide to use fancy font style Z, but the user has only regular font style R, then the browser will display the page in style R instead of style Z. One common way to get around this problem is to create an image of the text you want to use in the fancier font and then insert the image into the website page. However, this practice is best used sparingly as search engines are unable to read images. We have provided a hyperlink to a nice list of web safe fonts for you to pick from for your website design.

Which colors can I use on my website?

Just like web safe fonts, there are web safe colors too. A web safe color is one of 216 colors that will display correctly on any monitor. Which color that shows up on your monitor is based upon the capability of the video card on the computer, tablet, or smart phone device like an Iphone or Blackberry. Think of your favorite ice cream shop and the different flavors you can pick from. Everybody loves vanilla or chocolate, but how many people will order caramel swirl with green cherries? Those with adventurous taste buds ( a very capable video card) will try the swirl versus the vanilla and chocolate (most video cards). As technology advances web safe colors has become less of an issue, because most video cards can display 1000's of colors.

How many color combinations can I use?

We recommend using a maximum of 5 various color combinations on your website. Any more than that can make your website look a bit confusing and become tired on the eye. We recommend visiting Color Palette Generator or Kuler for suggestions on color combinations.

How come I have to scroll right to left on some websites?

The screen resolution of your monitor and a fixed or liquid website design causes this to occur. Older monitors use a display screen of 800 x 600 where as newer monitors can display up to 2560 x 2048. Basically the higher the number, the more information can be displayed on the screen without having to scroll.

Deciding on a fixed or liquid design can also cause this effect. A fixed design remains constant regardless of the browser width where as a liquid design adjusts to fit the browser's width. If you have a newer wide screen monitor and the website is a fixed design, the site will be centered on the screen and more space will be to the left and right of the screen. On the other hand if a liquid design was used, then the website will cover the entire width of the screen. Both design concepts can be used on desktop website, but we suggest using a liquid design for any mobile website because of the size limitations.

Do you have a web design question?

Contact us and we will be glad to answer any questions you have. We will update this page with answers to other common questions we receive.

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WE CAN has benefited tremendously from the knowledge and skill of Eric Grossman. He explains and demystifies the process and is incredibly patient and attentive to details. It has been a joy to work with Eric and we are delighted with the results!,

Andrea Genser, Executive Director


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