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Your web design is either effective or not and clearly, there is no room for a middle ground. To create a design that serves the purpose it is supposed to (read: is effective), it is imperative that you not only have the requisite skills but also know what not to do. Simply put, it comes down to two things:

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Web Design

  • Utilising the skills you have and probably acquiring some more on your way
  • Not doing things that can lead to an ineffective web site design

Lets start with the first one, i.e. the skills you need:

  1. Marketing
    You may be a website designer, someone who doesn’t necessarily own the business for which the design is to be created, but you need to have an understanding of the target market. Also, keep in mind that not every business needs the same kind of design. Point in case: what works wonders for a B2B site may or may not do any good when it comes to an entertainment website. Keep this in mind, hone your marketing skills and portray the business favourably.
  2. Layout-ing
    Being a designer, you need to determine if all the pages of a site should have the same layout.While you may be good at layout-ing (if that’s a word!), you are still advised to consider the following to ensure that you don’t go wrong:
    • Page pixel width
    • Per-device specification

    While you are at it, make sure that you find out all there’s to know about responsive web design, which is often dubbed the latest advancement in this context.

  3. Coding
    Code can make or break the design and therefore, you must make sure that you do not end up with poorly-coded pages. For this, you not only need to keep an eye out for errors, but to also ensure that the IDs and classes are identified properly. The idea here is to conform to the web design standards.
  4. Grasping
    Before working on the design, you must understand that to some extent, it is your responsibility to ensure that the visitors perceive the usefulness of the website. If they don’t, they are unlikely to use the site for long. Also, don’t test their patience. If they are supposed to install some plug-ins because of the design that you create, chances are that they won’t. Even worse, they may not be as tech-savvy as you think they are. More importantly, if at all you wish to experiment with advanced interactivity, do so at your own risk.

Needless to say, there are other skills that may also come in handy. For instance, if you are good at typography, you can easily create an effective design. Likewise, if you have your way with motion graphics, you can contemplate enhancing the design.

Moving on, here’s what you should not do:

  1. Don’t think text doesn’t count: Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but no one’s coming to the site to have a look at a couple of images and go. They are there to read as well and they need text. So, don’t even think of creating a design that’s literally flooded with images and even worse, never ever (bold, italics) turn text blocks into images to grab the users’ attention. Won’t work. Caution: With too many images, the website background may turn out to be much bigger than you expect it to be, eventually leading to a page that loads slowly.
  2. Don’t take your typography skills for granted: If you are a good typographer, act like it. Use the right fonts and while you are it, don’t forget that choosing the right size(s) is equally important. You need to read the visitors’ minds and think whether or not your font selection enhances their experience. If it doesn’t, think again. Caution: No matter how appealing it may sound, avoid using too many fonts.
  3. Don’t complicate things: You are a pro; the visitors aren’t (at least not all of them). A good idea here is to assume that small kids are going to view the design you create. While they may not be a part of your target audience, imagining them may help you in coming up with a design that’s simple. Caution: If the design needs you to create forms, make sure you do not include too many items. No one has the time to fill up a form with 30 different fields.
  4. Don’t assume things: Let’s start with advanced interactivity; don’t assume that it goes well with all kinds of browsers and hardware configurations. It may not, especially if you talk of older browsers and configurations. Likewise, it makes no sense to assume that the visitors may have no qualms if you simply place boxes everywhere. FYI, they like to visit a well-structured page. Caution: Assumptions can cost you dearly when you are asked to design the page for a small business that may not be able to hire a web developer and you might be solely responsible for designing and programing the complete web page. In any such situation, don’t assume that you are only there for the visual aspect.
  5. Don’t be greedy: An effective website design is free from ads. Correction – free from TOO MANY ads. The business may want to earn money through the means of advertisements but as a designer it’s your responsibility to tell them that they shouldn’t make ads their #1 priority. Play it smart and use your skills to blend in the ads. Caution: A page full of ads is likely to drive away the visitors.
  6. Don’t overdo things: Let’s say you are to choose a colour scheme. What should you do? Include every known colour? It may occur to you that too many colours would lead to an attractive design, but unfortunately they won’t. 5 colours at max – that’s the limit; try not to cross.

This is just a guide that can help you or any other website designer create a meaningful design within the specified time frame. Of course, there are other things that are equally important, if not more. Take navigation for instance; it should be easy to spot. Again, your colour scheme comes into play here. To conclude, a good or effective design is the result of the skills you use and the right things you DO.

A Website Designer is a blog by Dan Norris a passionate small business Web design expert from the Gold Coast, Australia. Read this full post here What It Takes To Create an Effective Website Design

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