Best Practice in Web Design...

Introduction 

design_icon_256.pngIrrespective of whether you are intending to use a flat "brochureware" website or an interactive e-commerce site, the overall look and feel will play an important role in its usability.

It is important that visitors to the site can quickly and easily access the required information. The design should present the content in an intuitive manner, making effective use of colour, layout and site organisation.

Planning your Site
It is essential from the outset that you clearly identify what the purpose of your site is. Typical reasons why businesses develop websites include:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Saving money
  • Selling products
  • Providing improved customer support

Remember that what you want the website to accomplish and what your visitors require from the site may differ. You may be concerned about the visual aspects of the site, while your visitors probably care more about how quickly they can find information.

Content and audience
Establish the type of content you will need to support the objectives of the site and how this should be presented. Look for examples on the Internet that will enable you to present the content in the most appropriate way.

Ensure that you know the audience you are trying to reach. Try and understand what they will want when they come to your site, how you can initially attract them, what will encourage them to return, and what type of computer and connection speed they are likely to have.

From 1 January 2007 all companies in the UK must clearly state the company registration number, place of registration, registered office address and, if the company is being wound up, that fact, on all of their websites. A common place to put this information is in the "About us" or "Legal info" page of the site - it does not have to appear on every page.
Planning techniques

It is a good idea to create a diagram that shows the structure and logic behind the content, presentation and navigation you propose to use.

A popular technique for mapping out a website is known as wireframing. This allows you to create a skeleton of the site that describes the basic elements you intend to include. The wireframe is made up of labelled boxes that illustrate the overall navigation and the blocks of content that each web page will contain.

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The wireframe can be drawn using packages such as Word, PowerPoint or Illustrator. Wireframes are very easy to change, so the initial design can be shown to customers or friends who are representative of your intended audience. Their comments can then be quickly incorporated to arrive at an agreed design.

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