More and more people are buying, selling, living and playing online every day. If you want to join in the fun, you’ll need a website to call your own. Although web design is a complex field that professionals devote their whole careers to mastering, good, solid web design principles are easily within the grasp of an amateur who approaches the field with dedication. Here are some points to keep in mind as you put your site together.
One thing that web design has in common with other types of design (as opposed to art) is that it is geared towards a particular audience. Who will your website’s audience be? Devoting some thought to this question and answering it honestly can save you a lot of time throughout the design process. With a firm idea of your ideal website visitor in mind, it gets a lot easier to answer all sorts of questions about how to build your site. Should you do “X” or “Y?” All you need to do is ask yourself which one your ideal visitor would prefer.
Although you can, of course, design for any sort of audience you like, it’s a good idea to steer away from designing for the obsessive-compulsive crowd. In practice, what this means is to adhere strictly to the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle. There is no way to guarantee a certain level of attention from your visitors, so you should make your site as easy to use as possible. Finding the information that they want should be as close to effortless as you can make it. This means that navigation around your site should be easy and logical, and that distractions are kept to a minimum.
Exercise extreme caution with multimedia content for your site. Although videos and animations can be very memorable, it’s not a good idea to rely on them alone. Not every visitor will feel compelled to click “play,” and if videos are all you have to offer them, you’re unlikely to see them again. That being said, adding videos to your site is sometimes the way to go if they are strongly tied to the site’s general theme. Just be certain that you’re still expressing your ideas in words. You can even use written and video content to support and enhance each other. Use text to sell your visitors on the value of your video; entice them into watching.
This would be a good time to talk about quality control. Putting a website on the Internet can be an incredibly quick and casual process – if you don’t really care about the result. You should always keep in mind that your website is, for better or worse, going to represent you to all the people who visit it. It’s well worth your time to test-drive your site before taking it live. You should review both the content and the code. Look for grammatical and spelling mistakes, check the site’s appearance in multiple browsers, and make sure all of your links and videos load properly. Catching a problem before your site goes up is much, much easier than tracking it down after your site is live.
There are tons and tons of additional web design information waiting for you out there. The principles outlined above should get you off to a good start; if you enjoy your initial forays into building websites you’ll soon find yourself eagerly seeking out new ideas and learning new skills. There is virtually no limit to how far you can take your web design skills if you stay enthusiastic about improving them.