thoughts on web design
Jakob Nielsen suggests that we have an absolute need for design standards.
You cannot go wrong by following the direction given in the Web Style Guide [linked from every page on the class web site]. But we will review some basic considerations and offer a way to approach the process of designing your web site. The principles are pretty straightforward:>
know your audience,
keep it simple,
know the rules before you knowingly break them
Define the purpose and the target audience
- what is your intent? what is the message you wish to convey, both in text and in feel?
- who are you trying to reach? who is your target audience?
- think about the audience
- tailor your look and your content to appeal to this audience
- consider their needs and their limitations
Determine the structure of the site by sketching the navigation structure
- what is the top level page? this is home page, the page that will open when a user types in the URL of your web site's directory
- are there any second level pages? if so, they are children of the home page
- are there any third level pages?
if so, each third level page is a child of the second level page it is subordinate to
- one might stretch the metaphor by thinking of the home page as the parent, the second level pages as children, the third level pages as grandchildren
- of course, this means a page might have a parent, some siblings, perhaps some children, even some aunts and uncles, and cousins
- a sketch will help you keep the relationships clear
Determine the content and navigation for each page
- what kinds of text, images, or other objects are relevant to the topic of a particular page? remember, some things add code weight to a page and are thus more slowly loading, but sometimes the object is critical to the message and the load will have to be borne
- within the structure of your web site, plan to have every page link directly to the home page, to its parent page, to its children, and to its siblings. ponder designing a way to place the navigation tools so that they are visually similar and in the same relative position on each page
Determine the design of the page
- don't forget that this is your page, so it should represent you in a manner you wish to be represented
- how do you plan to lay it out? what objects go where?
- is the text appropriate for the audience?
- do the images fit the purpose of the site?
- do the images fit the size of the screen?
- are the images appropriate for the audience?
- are the colors appropriate for you and for your audience?
- what other content would the audience expect to find?
- user expectations: placement
- users expect the most important thing on a page to be in the initial view on the screen - put the important stuff above the fold
- users have a way of reading pages, so design accordingly
- user expectations: consistency
- users want to be able to find things the second time they go looking for them - keep things spatially and visually consistent
- user expectations: usability
- links need to work, navigation needs to be clear and unambiguous
- consider your user: colorblindness? you might want to consider color in all its aspects
- if you expect a user will want to print something out from your site, offer them a way to do that easily [provide a link to a PDF version of a résumé, for example]
- create a main folder for our site on your client
- create subfolders within the main folder for the various components of your site
- store materials for each of the components in their subfolders
- create a separate subfolder for images
General good advice about things you want to consider in your design
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