Just like building a home, after you have determined the foundations for your site, it’s time to think about the architecture along with how the site will look once it’s done. Here are some guidelines to follow:
Design Dos and Don’ts:
Do check out your competitors’ sites as well as sites that you find attractive. Write down notes about things that you find appealing, and, things you find annoying.
Don’t sacrifice usability to gimmicks. Good design and great function are the product of a creative solution.
Do keep it simple, without sacrificing content. Think of what your most useful content may be to your target audience. Then, make sure that they can find it in less than three clicks after landing on any page of your site.
A Word about Fonts:
Fonts are the various typefaces that designers use to create the text for a site. The two main types are Sans-Serif (example: Arial) and Serif (example: Times New Roman). When to use which is based on readability as well as design sense. Most people find it easier to read the content of a page on a screen if a sans-serif font is used. However, when that same content is printed out, a serif font is more readable.
There is also the browser factor in choosing which font to use for a site. Some browsers are more limited than others in the fonts they are able to display. While it’s possible to use custom fonts for images, such as in the top header of the page, content that is important for search engines to find should be as accessible as possible.
How To Use Images Effectively
If you’ve ever been to a site that took over 10 seconds to load a page of images, then you have experienced the pain of improper image optimization. Images that are being transmitted electronically are reliant on their resolution (pixels-per-inch or, dpi) and dimensions to determine their file size. An image that is 400 pixels wide and 300 pixels high will be a much easier file to handle at 72 dpi (web resolution) versus 300d dpi (print resolution). Unless you are planning to create a stock photo site, the majority of your site’s images will only need to be at most 800 pixels wide and at 72 dpi. (Good to know if you will be sending your designer a lot of photos to use!)
One important caveat: Make sure you are using images that you have the rights to. Although it’s possible to use images off the web as “placeholder” for a design, once the site is live, you need to ensure that you are authorized to use any photos or images that you did not create yourself.