About Consistency In Web Design

If objects with similar functions are grouped together, its function will be easily understood and remembered. When designing an interface, it is important that all similar tools used for navigation and accessing information should stay consistent. The webpage font, style, colour, layout, mouse over effects should also stay consistent. When the user clicks a link, he must recognize the connecting page is similar to the previous one, failing to do so will make the user confused and will prompt him to visit other websites.

If there are sound or animation used in navigation, the sound and animated effect should stay the same in all pages. For example, if an animation is turned on by clicking a flash button, it should be done the same way in the rest of the webpages.

One method of ensuring consistency is to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). By defining standard style properties in another document, it is possible to achieve the same look and feel to all your webpages that use the same style sheet. A style sheet, for example, can be used to make the text on every page 12 pt Verdana, all headings (h1) orange..etc. If the style of the site needs to be changed for any reason, only one document needs to be updated. Without style sheets, doing manual adjustments on every page is tedious and often result in errors and inconsistency.

Another way to promote site consistency is to use templates. A website template is a document that defines the structure of muliple pages in your site. For example, if the header and footer are standard across all pages in your site, they can be attached to the body of your document via an automated process, saving you time and typing errors. Many web editing softwares such as Dreamweaver offer templating function. Server-side technologies can also do the same job easily.

Ideal Web Design Firm

Plan Your Budget

Choosing a web design firm often comes down to money in the end. You may not be able to afford the very best firm in the industry, but that doesn’t mean you have to choose the worst either. Before searching for a web design firm, decide exactly how much you would like to spend and how much you can spend. Your plan should provide you with the ideal cost and with what you would be willing to pay if the perfect company’s services cost a little more.

Create a Timeline

How long do you have to put this site together? If you only have two weeks, then you need to find a company who can effectively deliver the product in two weeks. You may have to sacrifice features to finish so quickly, but you need a company who can deliver on time.

If you have months to put together a site, then choose the best company for the job. If you have the time to create a sensational site, and if you have the money to back it up, create the best site possible. Just know that if you say you have months and then change your mind, your design firm will not be able to finish everything immediately.

Determine Their Specialty

Web design firms generally specialize in certain technologies, and you need to be able to determine whether their specialties will meet your needs. Always ask for three examples of their technology. Anyone can tell you that they can do something, but that doesn’t mean they have done it. You don’t want your web design firm to be learning how to bid on Google AdWords or figuring out Flash Video while trying to complete your site on time. Let them prove their expertise with specific examples from their portfolio.

Always Contact References

Look at a web design firm’s portfolio carefully. Ask for references and then contact them. Talking to past clients is the best way to discover exactly how a project turned out. Although the company may be able to provide you with testimonials, talking to another business owner will always provide you with a more detailed, honest description of the project’s success or failure.

Web Design Mistakes

  • Do not underline words unless they are a link. It is a design standard to underline links. If you underline other words on your web page that are not links, viewers will click them. When they don’t go anywhere, it will lead to confusion. Make it obvious what is a link and what isn’t.
  • Use a font without serifs. Serifs are the little lines at the end of letters that make them easier to read in print. On a computer screen, however, sans serif fonts like Arial and Verdana are actually easier to read and lead to greater comprehension of your message. For example, this is serif and this is sans serif.
  • Optimize your graphics for the web. If the file size of your pictures is too large, they will take too long to load and most users won’t stick around to see them. Pictures can be optimized with only slight changes in overall quality.
  • Put the navigation for your web pages on the top or left hand side. This is where most users automatically look to find them. Don’t stick it on the right just to be different. This is not where people’s eyes go to look for navigation. Be consistent with your navigation placement; it should be in the same spot on every page.
  • Don’t use more than three or four colors on your web page. Any more, and the user will be overwhelmed and not know where to look first. If your message is competing for attention with color, your site will not be as effective as it could be.

Revenge Ugly Website

A Burning Man’s Weird and Ugly Website

Burny and his best friend Nona have built a website to tell his life story to the world. Burny is afflicted with a mysterious chronic burning disease that causes parts of his body to ignite at random. Burn scars constellate his body. He walks with a limp. He is too mortified to be with people. Some even call him a freak. Then he discovers that the flames killing him little by little have miraculous healing powers. His life has never been the same again, especially after going online.

But now Burny and Nona feel that if a website is called weird and ugly; it probably looks a lot like their website.

It certainly feels that way when people say the website will have tremendous potential if they show a short animated feature about the story. It certainly feels that way when they receive e-mails asking in so many ways why the site is “sooo static.” And it certainly feels that way when they read this message from a returning site visitor: “Hey, no offense guys, but I think your old Flash website looks a lot better than this dead mind-numbing stuff.”

They Built It, They Came, and They Left Forever

It is an offshoot of an original fancy Flash website, their newbie attempt at being webbies. It was an absolute “techie beauty.” Cinematic intro. Scrolling text. An array of moving thingies. Even an animated page-turner. All this plus some Hollywood-style effects. It gave that peculiar feeling of watching a mystery movie.

But where’s the rest of the story? That was the question of most site visitors.

Burny and Nona intended to tell the Burny’s story in that website. Trouble is, the animated page-turner limited them to a maximum of sixteen pages – about 106 pages short of the site’s designed content.

Their first website became some kind of an unfinished visual treat that people would visit once or twice at the most, and then never again. Adding more animated effects served like a one time adrenaline boost for the site, that’s all. Requesting those who purchased the ebook to recommend it to others led some people to accuse them of spamming. They even tried using sophisticated linking software to increase its exposure to no avail. Webmasters would visit, but only a handful would link to it. Their website traffic seemed to trudge to a dreary drumbeat – one…two…bye. They built it and they came, and they left forever.

Connection is the Key

It took an unusual degree of humility for them to accept that the techie beauty they were so proud of did not actually work for them. After all, it revealed to them the extent to which people responded to the website’s story more than its looks.

They discovered that although head-turning imagery and special effects raise web design to a higher level, they will only work if they are built on a good concept. The cool stuff is in the content. When an idea translates into a compelling content with which audiences can relate, it causes them to hook up psychologically to the website. When it makes an emotional bond by showing people an idea or experience they’ve had, an idea or experience they’d like to have, or the information they’ve been looking for, real cool content stuff happens.

The website connects to the audience.

In this case, the premise of Burny’s story connected to the audience. And it turned out that they wanted more.

You never really appreciate a story until you enter the door of a character’s head and walk around in it. But Burny’s original website was a beautiful door that opened up to nothing!