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Category Archives: Web Design

Accessible Web Design

The importance of accessible web design lays in the fact that a lot of these helpful products will not be fully effective unless the websites are designed to be accessible.

Using accessible web design London based companies and others around the UK have found that rewards outweigh the costs. Companies using accessible web design have the knowledge and comfort that they are providing useful alternatives for people with special requirements. They also have the added benefits of increasing their potential customer base, as customers with disabilities will be more receptive to companies that cater to their needs.

We have established the importance of accessible web design across the globe but the most important factor is how daily tasks we take for granted, can be carried out with relative ease giving the user peace of mind and independence. With the Internet being the most used information resource for people from all walks of life it has become necessary to provide people with disabilities the equal opportunities of accessing information and people at the touch of a button.

Fast becoming an integral part of building a website, accessible web design UK, and globally is a must for all website owners who wish to bridge the gap between web design and web functionality.

Website Design Disasters

Outdate Information, Broken Links, and “Under Construction”. There is nothing more frustrating than sifting through out-dated websites when you’re in search of current information. Or clicking on a link that you hope leads to the answer to your question, only to discover that “This Page Cannot Be Displayed” or that the domain name is for sale.

Only slightly less annoying are messages informing you that the page is currently under construction or is “Coming Soon”. If it’s not here yet, don’t waste your visitor’s time leading them down dead ends.

Solution: Schedule at least a day a month scouring your website for outdated information and broken links. You can also include a link on your website that allows visitors to report broken links or outdated information. As far as “Under Construction” messages, instead announce to your visitors any upcoming changes or additions to your website. They’ll be glad to know it without getting their hopes up, clicking a link to much sought after information, and being told it isn’t available yet.

Hard to Find Contact Information. It’s hard to understand why any website would fail to make it easy for visitors to get in touch with the people who run it. Offering this simple bit of information will:
a. Encourage people to ask for permission before using your content &/or graphics on their own sites.
b. Make it easier for people to contact you for promotional reasons. For example, someone may desire to interview you, initiate a contract or simply make an important business contact that you may need in the future.
c. Provide people with ways to reach you and your company while they are offline. You can provide them with ways to reach you by telephone, snail mail or possibly even to stop and tour your facilities.

Solution: Simply add a “Contact Us” page and link to your website. Be sure to include pertinent email addresses, phone numbers, names, mailing addresses and (if necessary) driving directions.

Not Changing the Color of a Visited Link. While this may not seem like such a big deal, it’s one that has been bugging website traffic for many years. You can take that on the authority of Dr. Jakob Nielsen, the man who’s been called the “guru of Web page usability” by the New York Times.

The purpose of changing link colors is to give your site visitors an idea of where they’ve already been and where they have yet to venture. This is especially important if you have a large site with new pages being added to it often.

Solution: The HTML code is simple: Inside the body tag, add the “vlink” tag and the color code or color name. The code for blue visited link text would look like this:

or

Replace the code or color name with the color you want. There, you’re done. It’s that simple.

Web Site Builder Tools

Online website design tools are just programs written by people, they cannot think, they cannot make recommendations or tell you that some element in the design you are creating is not going to be best for you. These programs will do exactly what you tell them to do so unless you are an experienced website design professional you will probably be in trouble and besides if you were a website design professional you would not be using a tool like this.

Is your competition using some online website builder? If you think so then think again. How will you expect to outsell or out rank your competition on the search engines if you are driving a Volkswagen and they are driving a Ferrari? It’s just not going to happen.

What is the difference between online website design builder tools and Content Management Systems or CMS? A lot! The online website design builder tools are for designing the layout of your site, the code behind your site and the elements that will make your site usable by your visitors and viewable and rank able by search engines.

Content Management Systems will allow you to update the content of your website and keep it fresh for your visitors and for the search engines. Unlike online builder tools a good Content Management System fits inside an already designed professional website layout.

The content you place within the pages of your website will affect your sales and your search engine rankings but there is little danger that you will destroy your website by using a good CMS.

Cardinal Rules of Web Design

One of the most important cardinal rules of functional, good web design, is if you have to explain how your navigation works… it’s a good sign you don’t have good navigation. Web site navigation should first above all, function, cause if it does not function it is useless and people will not stay on a web site for more than a few moments if they cant navigate easily. Make your navigation simple and elegant, don’t waste peoples time and patience with a bunch of useless Flash animation or disappearing links.

Have a clear naming or “branding” of each section of your web site. Don’t confuse your visitors. Let them know what section of the site they are in at all times because what is common sense to you, will certainly not be common sense to everyone else. All of us are, after all, individuals and we all think differently about each situation.

Audio, please oh please if you absolutely MUST insist on putting audio on your site, at the very least please provide a way to turn it off. There is nothing more annoying than audio on a page that you can’t stop. I just leave the website rather than sit through the interruption of some cheesy beat or one of those really annoying talking robot heads. When I am listing to satellite radio I don’t want some alien sound destroying my net surfing Zen.

Most people in Western culture read from left to right, which means the natural tendency when someone lands on your homepage is to scan from the top left and continue from there. This is also true with navigation, put your most important sections of your site on the left side of your horizontal nav-bar or on the top of your vertical nav-bars. People don’t want to see “Home” and “About Us” as the first links, no one cares…. at first. Give them the value, give them the bread and butter of your site… first. After they are satisfied with the meal, they will head on over to the “About” page for the desert, or the icing on the cake to seal the deal. Don’t spoil peoples’ appetites by putting something in their way that they didn’t come to your site looking for in the first place.

No one likes an ugly web site, but what people don’t like even more than an ugly web site, is a non-functioning web site. My final cardinal rule of good web design is the philosophy that every web site should look as good as it functions. Top shelf functionality will breed top shelf design, it’s the nature of good web design.

Banner Design Techniques

Simple integrated design

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin first introduced their product, “Google”, to potential investors, they mentioned AdWords as a backup option in case they didn’t make any money. We all know how lucky they were that they eventually needed to use that backup plan. What made these “boring” ads such a great success?

Unlike other ads, AdWords neither arouse the visitor’s curiosity nor disturb the main flow of the web page. In fact, the opposite is true. AdWords are meant to look like part of the search results giving the user the feeling that those ads are there because he asked for them. No one has any doubt that this simple design helps Google to promote both their search engine and the AdWords advertising program.

Take part in the action

Banner designers wisely used interactive technologies like Flash to develop type of banners that invite the user to take part in the action. Drawing the user into the action can be accomplished in many creative ways. Some web designers use popular old games elements as part of the scene. You all know the famous game pacman. One of the banners that I like the most is the one where the user is allowed to let pacman “eat” few dollar signs. At the successful completion of this mission, a nice slogan is revealed asking him to open a saving account that will earn money with a fixed interest rate. The idea behind those interactive banners is simple: Let the user take part in the action and then at the right moment when his mind is less resistant, show him the sales message. Those interactive banners proved to be very efficient. Their biggest disadvantage is that most webmasters will not allow that kind of banner because it distracts too much from the web page content.

Back to Black and White

Website designers are always seeking to be different with their design ideas. One banner fashion trend that can be found lately is Black and White banners. Although research shows that blue and yellow are the most efficient color to use in a banner, Black and White banners have been seen a lot lately. It’s probably something that will eventually vanish, but the idea behind it is to be different and to make the user wonder what’s up and hopefully click on the banner to find out.

Get Out of the box

Have you heard about the milliondollarhomepage.com? If not, check out this website before continuing to read this article. This website has proven that creative thinking not only can bring you money but also create a whole new trend. Right after the milliondollarhomepage.com got the internet community’s attention, many designers used this idea to deign a banner on which they sell a 10×10 pixel area. Like the original concept, this banner design had its impact. Advertisers are investing money on these ad spaces while at the same time visitors are curious enough time after time looking at those unorganized pixel banners to click on them.

What about the next trends

What the next trends of banner design will be is something that probably no one can accurately predict. It’s up to some web designer to come up with a new concept that proves to be efficient. There is no doubt that in the future we will see new ways of designing banners, especially when more and more advertising budgets are being spent on the internet instead of commercial TV and other types of advertising media. I guess we will just need to be patient.

Design for Speed

Tables are frequently used among web designers for creating an attractive and effective site. However, rarely do web designers create new tables for the different segments of their content. Instead, they simply divide the cells into which they will be placing their content – the lazy road. While this may work very well if there are very few images – or no images at all – on your website, if this is not the case, then you will only be convincing your visitors to leave before they’ve even touched what your site has to offer them.

If your site has several images or is quite intense in its graphic usage, consider using separate tables for dividing your content. The reasons for this are many, but straightforward.

The first reason you should split your content among several tables can be explained by understanding the way that internet browsers read tables in a web site. Within a standard HTML site, the browser will display the text and the images as they load. However, when tables come into play, the browser will wait until the entire page has loaded before any of its contents are displayed within your visitor’s internet browser. All that is required is one large graphic to slow down the display of your entire site from within fifteen seconds to over a minute. Therefore, it is for precisely this reason that you should use separate tables to split your graphics from other elements of your site. Simply format the border, cell spacing, and cell padding at 0 so that the multiple tables are not visible to your viewers.

Using two or more tables is among the best ways to split up all of the data on your web site. The first table may consist of your logo and any header information that you wish to include in your web design. A second table can be the actual content of the site. If your page happens to be especially big, a third table can be added, for example for a particularly large graphic or other sizeable element.

This usually works quite well as the visitor will immediately be able to see your logo and some of the options offered by your web site as they wait for the rest of the page’s content to load.

You can also choose to split up your content by creating tables within your tables. This will allow the main table to load first, displaying its own contents while the tables within it continue to load. This makes the loading time of your page notably faster, and still provides the viewer with something to look at and read as the page’s sub-tables continue to load.

As an additional note, to continue to save on loading time, it is discouraged that you should use elements such as Java, Shockwave, and ActiveX programs within your tables. Instead, use JavaScript within your web page tables as it is much faster in its loading and its execution.

These techniques are highly valued by web designers who prioritize fast loading websites, and who understand how important it is to get your content in front of your visitors as quickly as possible in order to discourage them from going elsewhere to find a faster site.

Whenever possible, consider your visitors with slower connections – such as dial up – and test the speed of your site before finalizing its web design. Remember that most visitors find it much easer and much more appealing to simply click away from a slow site and find a fast one than to wait forever for a sluggish load. The rule of thumb is to have your first information up within 10 seconds for even the slowest connections, and then build rapidly from there, providing additional information and content before the viewer can become bored or frustrated.

Design for Web Content

The most important part of your website is the content itself. You have something to say, and you must make sure you say it, or all your effort has been wasted. But there’s no point in just regurgitating a few paragraphs of marketing hype – web users are surprisingly savvy, and they can see through that in an instant; an instant in which they will have hit the back button and moved on down the list of search results.

You need to find out what people are looking for, and give it to them.

Do some research; think about which terms you would use to search if you wanted to buy your product, and then look them up. Have a look at who your competitors are, and what they are doing. Research on Wordtracker and see if there are any other keywords you could try.

Then use your imagination. Think about why people might be looking for your product and write for them. If your site advertises a skiing hotel in Switzerland, don’t just advertise for ‘hotels in Switzerland’, provide useful articles about skiing, and then point them to your hotel in the middle of a ski resort.

When you know what content you require, you need to write it. The key to this is that it must be written well – you want people to read it and find the information useful. There’s a lot of rubbish out there, and if people find a genuinely useful article they will remember it and come back for more. With that in mind, here are a few ideas for writing better content:

  • Write clearly. Write succinctly. People get turned off by huge blocks of text, so keep it as short and sweet as possible.
  • Don’t feel you have to explain every little thing, but don’t assume that your readers know everything that you do. If they did, they wouldn’t be reading your article.
  • Use references to strengthen your arguments, and link to sources where people can get more information. Don’t be afraid to link to sites other than your own. It will only make people trust you more.
  • Talk as yourself. It’s the web; you can and should be informal. People like feeling that they are listening to a real human being. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.
  • Don’t overuse colloquialisms – not everybody is from the same country as you, and it’s easy for things to get lost in translation.

For more information, have a look at our article about optimising your site for the web [http://www.herdsofwords.co.uk/articles/optimise.html].

Design for ease of use

People don’t like reading as much text on a screen as on a page. Therefore, you must make things easy for them. Design your website to complement and enhance the text, and be careful not to overwhelm it with fancy menus and images that distract your readers from the important stuff: your content.

Split the text into easily digestible chunks; use short paragraphs made up of short sentences. Give each topic its own separate page if it makes things easier to read. Five concise pages are better than one single sprawling mass of text.

Use bullet points and lists to make things simpler. Emphasise important things using header tags or bold to make them stand out. Basically, try to break things up as much as possible into smaller sections that people will be more inclined to read.

Web Design Usability

1. Set goals and know understand the objective of your web design

What is it trying to achieve?

Wow the audiences?

Design a simple web user interface?

2. Design Consistency

Many web pages has more than 10 types of fonts with 20 types of sizes. Ever seen this type of web design?

Use CSS to help maintain a consistency through out your web design.

3. Font Type

Use readable font for your audiences. After all, you are trying to let your audiences understand about this web site that you have designed.

4. Important information at the top of the page

While if important words are positioned at the top of web pages, it helps in SEO, this is not the main factor. You want to convey your message immediately when the page loads.

5. Links

Make sure your links is clearly visible. Do not use the same text and font and color for links.

Great Design Elevates Web Sites

Reading broadcast and the Internet

Try this at home. Turn your TV to a news channel like CNN or MSNBC and mute the sound. Do the visuals communicate without sound? News channels rely heavily on graphics and visuals to tell their stories. The same is exceedingly true for the Web. The only exception is that the Web is user driven. That means your Web site visitor must click and navigate around your Web site to browse its information.

Does your navigation “read” well? Do your photos and graphics communicate quickly and clearly? If not, your site may be getting passed over by disinterested visitors.
Design is all around us. It permeates our lives from the subliminal to the intentional. The keyboard you’re typing on and the mouse you’re clicking were first developed and conceived by an industrial design team. The chair you’re sitting in was developed by an ergonomics design team. The box your chair was shipped in and its printing was developed by an advertising packaging team.

Design is critical to successfully selling your product to the public. Your Web site is literally your storefront or advertisement to the world. Make sure it’s designed to invite, inform and intrigue.

Do not covet thy neighbor’s concept

People tend to covet what they see. I know this because clients frequently bring me their ideas, hopes and dreams. And many times they’re of Web site concepts they’ve seen elsewhere. This is good creative fuel for inspiration, but it’s best to create a concept from the core of your own business branding.
Innovate, don’t regurgitate. Consult a design professional who will collaborate with you in building a Web site concept that conveys your message. A great concept leaves a memorable impression.

Here’s an example. Let’s say client “A” sells shoes. Simple enough. Post the logo, Web copy and pictures of some great looking shoes. Maybe even some bold, snazzy sales copy like, “Super Sale on Brown Shoes”. Client “B” decides to take a different approach. He gets a photo of a businessman in a nice suit with his legs crossed at a meeting, exposing the bottom of one of his shoes. The exposed shoe sole has a hole in it. That’s a concept!

Template Web site services

Companies that offer template Web services are fine for businesses on a shoestring budget, but be advised, what you see is not necessarily what you get. These are “closed template” systems that do not offer much scalability in terms of customization. That means your Web site will have a cookie-cutter appearance that does little to help you stand out among your competitors. These Web sites are a breeding ground for bad design, especially when it comes to typography. Use of type styles by itself is one of the purist forms of design.

Screen Resolution Friendly

The reason for this is that many older monitors – frequently VGA monitors – have a maximum of 640×480 pixels that they will support. There area also many visitors to your website who have older video cards. This means that no matter how good their monitor and your website, they simply will not be able to handle higher resolutions. You will need to keep this in mind when you are creating a web design for a large target audience. After all, you will want the maximum number of people possible to be able to easily and clearly read and view your website.

So why is it that web designers continue to write for such large screen resolutions – such as 800×600 and 1024×768 when it means that they’ll be sending so many people away from their sites due to the inability to read them or being frustrated from having to scroll sideways all the time? Actually, there are quite a few reasons to explain this web design pattern. For one, there are likely quite a number of web designers who don’t even realize the issue that they are creating. Similarly, there are those web designers who don’t care that some people will not be able to enjoy their websites. Also, we must consider that some web masters have recognized that their target audience are typically equipped with high screen resolution capabilities, and therefore are simply catering to their desired market.

It is indeed hard to believe that there are some web designers out there who can call themselves professionals and not understand the way that the different technologies used by their viewers will be impacted by the web designs that they create. It is hard to believe that a supposed “expert” may not recognize that their web designs won’t look the same on every computer. Of course, web designers can’t always be blamed, since they often have the latest technologies to make their work more pleasant and professional. However, it is up to them to understand that the majority of the internet using world is not using state-of-the-art technologies. These web designers are only trying to put out the most impressive looking visuals for a website.

When it comes to those web designers who know that not everyone will be able to see their website properly, but they just don’t care are the most likely to lose the highest number of visitors. Any graphic larger than 600 by 620 pixels will definitely create a horizontal scroll bar for several website visitors. This is frustrating to visitors who have to scroll in order to read each line of text. Navigation also becomes a struggle because menus may become partially or entirely hidden as the rest of the content is viewed. Furthermore, if the viewer doesn’t realize that the horizontal scrollbar has appeared, they may simply assume that the site is not finished, that it has errors, or that there is nothing additional to see. If the webmaster simply doesn’t care, they’re turning away an awfully large number of people who could be potential clients, part of a potential network, or even contributors.

When the webmaster has recognized that the primary audience of the site has higher screen resolutions, it is quite natural to create a website design that caters to that resolution. While they will usually meet the standard, making certain that a viewer of 640×480 can still see the vital information on the site, the entire itself will have been optimized for their main target audience. This is an extremely professional way to function because it avoids creating problems of viewing the site no matter what the client, and it still gives the most accurate settings for the equipment used by the main visitors.