How (And Why) To Keep It Simple When You Lay Out A Website
Web design is a great field because it has plenty of room for both experts and amateurs. While you could pay a professional big bucks to build you an outstanding website, you can also put together a pretty good one on your own. If you want to do it right, all you need to do is set aside the time to learn some good web design practices before you get to work. Here you’ll find a few good tips to keep in mind when you work on the visual appearance of your site.
To start with the most general point, there are ultimately just two things that visitors will see when they load up your website. Content and white space. One of the most common mistakes novice web designers make is to ignore the value of their white space. Cluttering up every inch of your site with content is a bad idea. It makes it hard for visitors to pick out the information they want and for them to tell which pieces of content are supposed to be important. Give your content room to breathe, especially the most vital pieces.
When you begin to make design choices about laying out your site, you should resist the temptation to get fancy. You’ve visited plenty of websites, of course, and you’re familiar with all of the standard organizational patterns: content in the middle, navigation above or below it, links to the left or the right, and so on. Although you may be tempted to try and stand out by breaking the mold, you should resist it. Gimmicky layouts do stick in visitors’ memories, but not in a positive way. You don’t want them to be thinking constantly about what a pain it is to navigate around your site.
Adding images to your website is a process that offers up several pitfalls. Animated images were all the rage in the early days of the Internet; the time for spinning pictures and blinking icons is long gone. Stick with regular image files in common web formats. You should also take the time to double-check the size of your images. Pictures taken straight from a digital camera, for instance, are often incredibly huge; your visitors don’t need images that are thousands of pixels wide. Make sure that you reduce the file size of your pictures, not just their display area. This will keep your site from loading slowly.
Finally, it’s worth thinking about your font choices before you get too far along in designing your website. Hard-to-read fonts are a plague on the Internet, and you can do your part to fight against that plague by sticking to simple, common, legible fonts. Your site should have two fonts, at most: one for the majority of your text, and another you use to add distinction to important information. These fonts should be from a related family, if possible. Also, go with sans-serif fonts over serifed ones. They’re easier for your visitors to read.
Laying out a webpage well is just one of the many different skills that contribute to web design. It’s an easy one to master, though, and the results will improve every site you work on in the future. With enough practice, arranging a website for clarity and ease of use will become second nature to you. This will speed up your web design work and leave you free to cultivate other tricks of the trade.