Monday, May 2, 2011

Web Designing- Do's and Dont's

The World Wide Web is one of the three most popular applications of the Internet, along with Instant Messaging and Email. As easy as it has become to create a website, though, most novice designers still make a lot of mistakes which are simple enough to avoid if you know how.
The Web was developed as an extension of an older Internet tool called Gopher. Originally, it was used to share text data by scientists and students at colleges. The original web browsers were designed with only text in mind and could not handle anything else.

The first graphical web browser was released in 1993 by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NSCA). It was called Mosaic and was the prototype from which Netscape was later developed. Microsoft's browser, Internet Explorer, was also built off of this same framework. While it has been over a decade since the first graphical browsers sprang into being, the basics of how to build a good web page haven't changed much over the years.

1: Keep it Simple

The number one mistake that most web designers make is trying to be too fancy. You don't need to use every single bell and whistle available to produce a good web site. You should figure out what you are trying to do with the site first, then think about how to best push that through your design.

For instance, a lot of people have taken to adding embedded music or Flash animation to their sites. While this is all well and good if you're a musician or a Flash animator, if your site is about your vacation to Poland , all you are doing is adding to the amount of bandwidth required for browsers to show your site. Not only can this prove to be expensive for you, it can be annoying for surfers without a high speed connection. Additionally, it can be annoying, especially if your taste in music doesn't suit theirs.

The key is an acronym called KISS, or Keep It Simple, Stupid. While not implying stupidity on anyone's part, it means that you should always keep in mind that simple is better. The less complex a system, the less often it will break, the less often you will need to maintain it, and the less annoyance you will cause the people browsing your site. Any one of these reasons is a good one to follow the principle, but they come as a bundled package, making them that much better.

2: Identify Your Audience

Is the page that you are designing for consumers? Are you presenting scholarly materials to help move you towards your PhD? Are you creating an online holiday greeting card? You would use different designs for these or any of a hundred different goals. Identify what your target audience is before you start doing any work.

Once you have your target audience identified, you can focus your efforts on figuring out how to draw them. For a website on art, you would want thumbnails and full sized images to keep them interested. For a site about a particular band, you might want links to a list of concerts, interviews, sound bites, etc. The is a world of possibility available for web designers, but it has to be focused on what you're targeting, otherwise you'll never gain interest.

3: Keywords

This is an especially important step for commercial websites and other sites trying to draw in an audience. With the number of search engines available on the web today, many of them rely on specific keywords when they are searching. It's not a simple matter of having a key phrase like 'kitchen appliances' mentioned once in your page, either. They use a tool called 'keyword density' which measures the number of times that the key words or phrases appear throughout the page.

There are two mistakes that are commonly associated with keywords: not using them at all and using them too often. Not using them at all is fairly self-explanatory. Using them too much occurs when, in an attempt to create greater keyword density, you detract from the value of the content in your site. Repeating the term 'father's day gifts' fifty times on a single page would certainly cause it to register high on many search engines. But if that is all that is present on the page, no one will get any value from it.

Keywords are like a candle and surfers are like moths. You want as bright a light as possible to draw as many moths as you can. But when the moths arrive, you don't want them flapping around wondering why they bothered showing up. That brings us to the next key:

4: Content

Content is what separates the real web pages from the fake ones which are only there to produce pop ups and attempt to install spy ware and viruses. If you have followed the steps above, you already know who your audience is and have a list of key words and phrases to use. Now you need to use those two tools to develop something to show visitors to your web site.
Content can be anything at all. It can be articles (like the one you're reading now). It can be sound bites. It can be pictures of your dog. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it is relevant to the people browsing your site. It shouldn't be hard to figure out what they want once you know who your audience is. And if you've used the proper key words and phrases with the right density, you know that people will come visit your site. Content is what keeps them there and keeps them coming back.

5: Eye Catching Design

It can be difficult to draw the line between 'eye catching' and 'over the top,' but the distinction is vitally important. When you are designing a page, you want it to stand out and be noticed. But if you don't keep it simple, you run the risk of annoying the people that you are trying to entice.

The key to a good, eye catching design is subtlety. Start out by writing the page as plain as possible. Review everything and decide which parts you feel need to stand out. When going through and editing the page, do something which helps draw the eyes of someone browsing the page to those parts. Something as simple as a slight increase in font size, italics, or making a few words bold can do the job better than a lot of over the top graphics, Flash animation, etc.
By limiting the number of eye-drawing areas on your page, you will cause the parts that you have emphasized to be that much more noticeable. Additionally, you will minimize the amount of visual clutter on your page, something that often keeps browsers from returning to a site. This leads right into the subject of finding more information easily, covered in the next point.

6: Search-ability

Depending on what sort of site you are designing, you might need to have some tool in place to allow people to search it for information. There are many free search tools available, which allow administrators to integrate search engines into their pages. However, unless your site is very in depth, you might not need that much functionality.

At the very least, you should have a site map available to browsers. A site map is a simple tool that lists everything on your site in a simple manner. There are many formats used, but in general an essay-style outline, with specifics mentioned underneath general subheadings, is one of the easiest to use and write.

While it would be impossible to go over every tip and trick to designing web pages, if you follow the 6 guidelines listed above, you'll be off to an excellent start. Remember: when you're designing a web page, unless it's a purely personal one, you're not designing it for yourself. You're designing it for the people you're trying to get to read it. Put yourself in their shoes and look at it the way they would, then design for their wants and needs.

If you can look from a different perspective and focus your creative talents towards pleasing your audience, you won't go wrong. All that the tips above do is help you focus on some of the general wants, but the specifics are variable based on your target. Once you've identified, apply the same sort of process to satisfying the specific needs and the job will be done right.


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  2. Thanks for explaining in clear about the web designing and its importance while designing a website.The principles you provided are necessary to make an effective website.
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