Unlike writing good copy or utilizing quality programming principles, developing the “look and feel” of your site is highly subjective matter. Consequently, a one size fits all approach isn’t possible – or advisable. Rather, the graphics, font, menus, and other visually appealing characteristics of your site should be specific to your business, industry, and the goals you’ve set for the site. As such, it’s impossible to provide highly specific advice on the best graphics or other visual aspects of your site. However, I can offer some generally accepted design concepts and guidelines that you can use to base your design efforts upon…
· People read websites like they read anything else – from left to right and from top to bottom. Consequently, you want to keep this in mind as you plan the layout of your site. Functionality, navigation, and menus are generally best placed on the left or across the top. Important information is subject to the same considerations.
· Of course colors are a big part of your site design. The use of color is highly subjective, however, the best advice I can give you here is to use good ol’ fashioned common sense. For example, red text on a black background is almost never visually appealing. If you’re an environmental company, you probably want to consider using some green in your site. If you’re a bakery you may want to consider using warmer brown and tan tones. And so on.
· Font. The font you use on your site is critically important to developing a quality website. You’ll find varying opinions on which font is the best, but as long as it is easily readable, sized appropriately, and consistent across your site, you should be in good shape.
· Whitespace isn’t bad. As is the case with printed materials, just because you have space on the page doesn’t mean that you should fill it all up. Doing so will give your site a cluttered, claustrophobic feel. Just ask Google.
· Easy on the flash and other special effects. These “effects” can be visually appealing, sure, but what about the 7th time someone visits your site? At that point they could probably do without the effects.
Keep in mind that all the points above are general guidelines. Ultimately, there’s bound to be a website somewhere that breaks the rules and still successfully performs its desired functions. Yet, if you start with the ideas above in mind, you stand a good chance of ending up with a website the “feels” good to the viewer.
Next post…good stuff about website copy. Stay tuned.