This introductory-level article provides checklists to help with planning a new website. Tips include the effect background colors can have on site visitors and page length considerations such as using shorter pages to break up text by topic or using longer page lengths for ease of printing.
Web Page Design Overview - Designing Your Site (Page 3 of 5 )
Topics to be covered:
I. Content II. Layout III. Text IV. Graphics V. Backgrounds VI. Temptations VII. Finishing Touches
Select your content carefully
Content is the most important aspect of your website. Keep in mind that people come to your site to get information. No matter how many hours you've spent scanning or animating graphics, if you're not delivering the content that people want, they won't stay very long and they probably won't return.
Define your purpose
Before you start to plan your website, determine why you're developing a site and what you hope to achieve. After you design your site, or if you already have a site, look carefully at your site and ask yourself the following questions:
Why does this site exist?
Who am I trying to reach?
Can my visitors easily find what they need?
Why would my visitors return to this site?
Update your site frequently
A website with a schedule of events from last year looks unattended. If your site features up-to-date information, include the date of your update.
Display important information prominently
Don't bury important information in long paragraphs or in pages embedded deep in your website.
Lay out the text first
Before you concern yourself with graphics, you should lay out the text of your web page first. The content and the layout of the text should then suggest the types of graphics you need and the best placement for them.
Use long pages for printing or downloading
Printing or downloading one page is easier than handling several pages. You can help your visitors read through a long page by creating a clickable table of contents at the top with internal links to specific sections on the page. You can also include a hypertext link, such as "Return to top of page," after each topic. The drawback of using long pages, however, is that they tend to go on-and-on. Also, a page of 40 Kilobytes (KB) or more may take a long time to fully appear on the screen.
Break up topics into shorter pages
To do this, design one index page with links that jump to shorter pages. Each page should treat one subject only. While shorter pages offer the advantage of less viewing time, they are harder to print than longer pages.
Provide navigational tools
If you have a complex site with multiple pages, you may want to have one- or two-word designations that allow your visitors to jump to other sections of your website. The most common links include a "home" or "top of page" link and "clickable" images or buttons.
Include links to other sites
The power of the web is its ability to link to other pages, but be careful. When a visitor arrives at your site, you don't want to send that person away too quickly. Also, remember to frequently check outside links to make sure that they still exist and have not moved.
Use descriptive page titles
The title of your page displays at the top line of your web browser. The title is important because it often shows up in search engines such as Google and as the bookmark name. Make sure your page title accurately describes your site by including keywords that people might use to find your page.