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The Basics of Good Web Design

Date Added: July 14, 2010 11:14:58 AM

The design of your website is what makes the first impression of your site on visitors – and we all know how important first impressions are. When you wander into the territoryof a poorly designed site, you're likely to cringe, press your Back button and never return. Clutter and distraction are like kryptonite to a website. Read on to learn what Superman-like concepts of web design you should be aware of.Studies demonstrate that average web surfers spend 30 seconds evaluating a home page What’s the point of sticking around a site that has a confusing design layout or pages that take forever to upload? You have literally billions of other options out there. Read on to learn about how to design a website that will appeal even to today’s community of attention-deficit web surfers.

Intuitive Site Structure

Make your site as user-friendly as possible. How easy is it for visitors to move around your site? Without a menu, users are likely to get fed up and quickly leave your site behind in virtual dust. People usually visit restaurant websites when they wish to find hours of operation; if this information is not easy to find, your potential diners will find grub elsewhere.Think about what what users will want to find once they reach your website. Menus should focus on what visitors want to achieve, with short, descriptive titles. If you use jargon, or creative names for your menu labels, users won’t appreciate your innovation. They’ll be too busy checking out a more user-friendly site. 

Font Selection and Text Arrangement

Typography is the art of selectingtype and type design. This includes the font, size and arrangement of your website’s text. Design a free website with text that users can easily digest Make it as easy to read as possible with smart typography. Stick to fonts you can be sure visitors will have on their computers, or your website won’t show up with the font you’ve selected. You're safe to assume that your visitors have Arial, Courier or Courier New, Verdana and Times New Roman installed. Whatever font you choose, stick to it throughout your website. Consistency contributes to branding and can give your text a “voice”.Commit to one or two fonts for your site. A web pagewith multiple font styles looks sloppy and unprofessional, and is unpleasant for your readers. Present readers with dark text on a light background, to create a contrast and make the text easy to read. And in choosing your text's alignment, don't use justification; stick to left alignment. If you're catering to a western-society userbase, this is the preferred format of text.

Page Layout

Pages packed with content, graphics and/or text are unattractive and uncomfortable for visitors. Leaving a little space between your elements can do wonders for your site’s visual appeal. Designers refer to the empty space between design elements as whitespace, but the space doesn’t need to be white. Usually, a page’s whitespace is the same color as the page’s background. Surround text, images and menus with margins of empty space. This allows your site to instantly become more readable and attractive.  If you're using a drag and drop free website builder to build your site, adjusting the position of your elements is a breeze Don't overdo it – too much whitespace can cause a site to lookempty and unfinished.

Use Perfect Spelling and Grammar

Spotting a spelling error on a website is like a red flag indicating a lack of quality. It’s unprofessional, and looks like you don’t care enough to put in the effort to edit your free website . It also seems like not a lot of people are interested in your free website, or you would have already been aware of the mistake. Read and re-read everything you publish on your site. Have friends or family members take a second look at your content before you publish it. Use a word processor with a spelling and grammar checker and then copy/pastethe words to your site.

Know Your Audience

Unless you made a personal free website to share with friends or family, odds are the entire purpose of you deciding to make a free website in the first place was so that other people will get some sort of product or service from you. Design a site to take care of your visitors, not your company's ego. A business site that goes on and on about how great the company is but doesn't describe its services is pretty pointless. Good websites are designed based on envisioning visitor expectations. Most people like simple, visually-based homepages, and sites with a high-level of contrast. You can learn a lot from websites that suck, and use their negative examples to turn your site into a pillar of good web design.