Web Design 101: 8 rules to know
Web hosting providers may offer many tutorials and resources you can draw on to help you design a website. But even the best website hosting company won't be a great help to you if your site isn't informative, interesting and attractive to visitors. Here are eight tips to keep in mind when designing your website.
1. Plan. We've mentioned this before! It's really important to plan your website before you ever sign up for a website hosting service. Read our article Get Your Website Up for more on making a web site design plan.
2. Learn about style sheets. Web hosting providers will likely provide you with a site building tool (such as FrontPage, Site Builder or Dreamweaver); within that application you may be able to set your own style sheets. Basically, what this means is that you decide what fonts and styles to use in your headlines, photo captions, text and so on - and you keep it consistent. Set your style sheet and stick to it.
3. Keep graphics small. Your website hosting service probably offers you plenty of disk space - it may even be unlimited- but you should still make an effort to keep your graphic sizes small. This will ensure they load quickly (keeping your site visitors happy). As well, a small photo file will be of less use to those who would download and steal your images, without seeking copyright permission.
4. Don't be afraid of white space. In other words, don't clutter up your site! All web hosting providers agree that a clean, crisp site is more attractive to visitors.
5. Don't use too much white space. Too much white space may make it seem like there's not enough useful info on your site. You want visitors to get a good sense of what your site is all about, quickly. Make sure all the key elements are visible right away.
6. Backgrounds. On that note... be careful about backgrounds! Dark text on a white or light background is easiest to read. A complicated background can make it hard to read your website. Website hosting companies will give you the tools to build an attractive website but a busy background may do you in.
7. Include a site map and a table of contents. Check out your web hosting provider's site for examples of these. You want to be able to find what you're looking for at all times and you want your customers to be able to, too. A site map and a table of contents (even an information-packed footer) can do wonders.
8. Make a fast impression. Stats by website hosting companies show that you have only a matter of seconds to catch your visitor's eye. If you're planning an ecommerce site or a business site, you especially want to draw you customers in and keep them there. This means short pages, careful writing, no spelling mistakes and a clear communication of your purpose.
Find the right website building tool and you'll be on the right track to planning a great, informative website!
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