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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Web Design Mistakes

Web Design’s Scariest Backgrounds

The background of your website is one aspect that you have control over and you can easily change or alter to suit your client’s needs. You must be aware, however, that some backgrounds are simply not attractive at all. Some of these backgrounds that should be avoided at any cost are :

• A completely black background with light or white text superimposed upon it. Even the best web designers in the world have difficulty achieving an appealing look with this type of background. It gives viewers the impression that you are imperious and condescending and does not do anything to encourage readers to stay on your site. Also, some browsers, when used to print a page, also print background color. This could cause complaints from customers who are not happy about the amount of ink they used in order to print a single page.

• A completely black background with dark words. This is an even worse background choice than the previous one because the words simply cannot be seen without great difficulty. In order to read the text, visitors to your site will have to first highlight the text, a task that will quickly irritate them.

• Complicated, tiled images. Fresh web designers often use this from of background because it is convenient and looks good to them. They should also bear in mind, however, that this type of background can dramatically increase the amount of load time for a website.

Web Design’s Scariest Text

The main reason people visit your site is that they are interested in the content contained within your website. If they are unable to read your text, then there is nothing for them to stay for. Your web design company definitely does not want visitors to find nothing worth reading on your site, so avoid the following pitfalls:

• Centering all your text. A page with all of its text completely centred is unattractive and difficult to read.

• Overly emphasized text. Some designers bold every other line of text and italicize the rest. This is self-defeating because in attempting to make everything stand out, nothing stands out.

• Flashing text. Although some people find text that constantly disappears and reappears appealing, it is almost impossible to read, defeating the purpose of even having text in the first place. Text is there to be read!

Web Design’s Scariest Content

As a web designer, you should never ignore your content. At the end of the day, the content of your web page is what either draws visitors to your site, or drives them away. You should make sure you include interesting and attention-grabbing content and avoid the following mistakes.

• Pages consisting solely of links. Pages where every word is a link on its own do not serve any purpose other than to convince visitors never to return to your site.

• “Funny” content. Including humorous content is risky, at best. Some people may not understand your humor and will need to have it explained to them or, more likely, they will simply leave your site in search of something more interesting that they can actually understand.

Web Design’s Scariest Multimedia

Many designers find themselves in love with multimedia and attempt to use it in every project that they undertake. The web design company you work for probably does appreciate your talent with multimedia and, when the situation calls for it, you can showcase your talents to your web design company and your clients. However, designing using multimedia tools is a very time consuming process. You should not let your desire to show off your skills with multimedia compromise the work that you eventually hand in to your clients. You should do your utmost to avoid the following traps:

• Image overload. Images of all forms, including icons, should not be present in large numbers. As a general rule-of-thumb, anything more than two images is overkill.

• Overly large images. The readership of your site will not suffer if your images are not of print quality. Large, high quality images take a long time to load and most readers would not care if you had used a low quality image.

• Embedded audio. Audio streams that play constantly while the page is open are very annoying for visitors who simply want to examine the content of your site. Worse, these audio streams are usually impossible to turn off. If you absolutely must include some form of sound with your web page, you must give your visitors the controls required to turn off the sound if they wish.

The Best Web Design Software

Macromedia’s Studio 8 Suite Academic Software Package

Macromedia Dreamweaver

My first choice for HTML editors is Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. It has an easy to use, intuitive user interface and state of the art design tools. With a customizable user interface, you can work the way you need to. Although the student software doesn’t come with manuals, Dreamweaver has excellent online tutorials.

You can design intricate CSS-based layouts and designs easily with tools that allow for quick selection and control of page and site wide style properties. There is a built in graphics editor that uses Macromedia Fireworks technology. Dreamweaver allows you to develop HTML, XHTML, XML, ASP, ASP.NET, JSP, PHP, and Macromedia ColdFusion websites.

It has a cross-browser code validation feature that automatically checks tags and CSS rules for compatibility across all the leading browsers and allows you to configure browser preview for multiple browsers.

One of the nicest features is the Property Inspector that enables quick, comprehensive property editing that makes getting it perfect a no-brainer. This is the editor I use to create and maintain all of my web sites. I have used the entire professional and many of the other HTML editors available and can say that Dreamweaver is absolutely the best HTML editor. Since Dreamweaver is taught in most graphic design curriculums, it inclusion in the academic software package is needed.

Macromedia Fireworks

Fireworks is Macromedia’s answer to Photoshop and is included in the student software package. Fireworks have all the tools web professional needs to create everything from simple graphical buttons to sophisticated rollover effects. You can import, edit, and integrate all major graphics formats, including vector and bitmap images and easily export Fireworks images to Flash, Dreamweaver, and third-party applications.

Besides all of the normal features you would expect in a professional photo editing program, fireworks includes new interactive design features and the ability to create pop-up menus in the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) format without the need for programming. One thing Fireworks does exceptionally well is batch processing. I use Fireworks batch processing all of the time to optimize entire directories of photographs. I can resize and optimize 50 photographs in just a couple of minutes.

Macromedia Flash Pro 8

Flash is the industry leader for creation animation and video movies for streaming over the internet. Flash creates movies with surprising small files sizes. That translates to quick download times and the availability to use flash animation on slower links and mobile devices and comes complete with tools for video creation especially for mobile devices. Flash pro 8 provides everything needed to create great looking videos. Since flash is being used more frequently is essential that it be part of an academic software package.

Macromedia Contribute

Contribute is Macromedia’s answer to the problem of content management. It provides the ability to change the content of a website without having to know anything about HTML, but does not need all the expensive software and databases that a regular content management system uses. Contribute allows companies to buy an inexpensive tool that lets them provide content without messing with the design. Contribute is a solution that is custom-made for small to mid-sized companies that don’t need all the power of CMS, but would like some of the benefits. Being included in the academic software package will give students an opportunity to see how a very simple CMS system works.

Macromedia FlashPaper

FlashPaper generates compact, fast-opening Flash documents that can be published to any website using Macromedia Contribute, Dreamweaver, or any other HTML tool. FlashPaper creates Flash documents through intuitive Microsoft Office integration and file drag and drop. Create Flash documents that are immediately available cross-platform on any web browser. Compact Flash documents open within a web page, eliminating the need for a separate viewer application. Flash documents can also be incorporated into Flash projects. Adding this to the student software package allows the student to experience using a very handy tool.

Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 Premium Academic Software Package

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is the graphics industry standard and my choice of photo editing software. I have to admit I love Photoshop. You can create original images or modify photos using a wide range of painting, drawing, and retouching tools. You can work the way that’s best for you by creating personalized workspace and tool settings and customized keyboard shortcuts.
You can achieve sophisticated results by compositing images, text, and effects on hundreds of layers that you control by grouping into sets, color coding, and locking. You can simulate traditional fine-art techniques with dry and wet brush effects, pastel, charcoal, and more and even use brushes to add special effects such as grass and leaves.
There are tools to improve the color, contrast, and dynamic range of any image, easily remove dust, scratches, blemishes, wrinkles, and other flaws with the Healing Brush. Photoshop can give high quality output by working with the complete raw data files from most major digital camera models. It’s great all-around imaging software. Photoshop is taught in all graphic curriculums and had to be included in the student software package.

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is also taught in every school’s graphic curriculum and is another essential part of a student software package. It is also an essential tool for anyone who needs to express ideas visually in print, on the Web, and in any other medium. When my clients send me a rough pencil drawing of the logo they want for their business, I create the logo in Illustrator then import into Photoshop to get it ready for their web page.
Illustrator has great 3D features, advanced typographical controls, Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) integration and enhanced printing options. Illustrator will help create and efficiently publish your artwork anywhere.

One of the nicest features is the ability to apply live effects without affecting the underlying artwork, so you can edit at any time without starting over. There are blending modes and transparency effects similar to those in Photoshop software but, unlike Photoshop, Illustrator has intuitive tools such as the Pencil, Smooth, Erase, and Pen tools.

Adobe In Design

In Design is the best page layout software available and is the choice of most print design professionals. With the advent of paid subscription totally-digital magazines, it is getting popular for laying out the print like pages of these products.
It can integrate with both Photoshop and Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) file formats and supports the multiple layer capability of Photoshop. It is an all around necessary tool for the professional graphic designer. Although not usually covered in most curriculums, it is a welcome addition to any academic software package,

Adobe Go Live

Go Live is Adobe’s answer to Dreamweaver. It has all of the features that you can find in Dreamweaver and is integrated directly into the rest of adobe products. Personally, I prefer Dreamweaver but go live are an excellent HTML editor and complete the suite for a web designer. Although usually on touched in classes, Go Live is welcome addition to any student software package.

Adobe Acrobat

Acrobat is the number one tool used to create the widely used PDF document format. With it’s built in security features that can prevent the user from copying or changing the document and the ability to require a password to open the document, acrobat is still one of the leading choices for creating paid e-books. This program is an absolute necessity for a web designer and therefore a welcome addition to the academic software package.

Web Design Elements

Web Design Balance

The fundamental concept behind Web design balance is an appropriate layout of the heavy and light design elements on any page. The layout of the page will eventually determine how well balanced your design is. It is important to ensure that each page achieves balance throughout, and not only in the top part of the page. It is not uncommon for your web design company to give you guidelines to follow such as making sure the text and other elements are all centered on the page or that you should arrange everything according to a preset grid system to help you achieve the required balance. The three main types of balance that you may consider as you design your page are :

  • Symmetrical. Symmetry can be achieved by repeating everything that you do on one side of the page on the other. A heavy design element on the right should be matched by a similar one of the left. The elements should not be exactly the same, however, because that would make your page look uninteresting and uninspired.
  • Asymmetrical. Building a website with an asymmetrical design theme can be difficult. However, with the right combination of colors, texture and overall layout, the result can be very aesthetically pleasing.
  • Discordant. Web sites that are discordant are usually associated with action or movement and thus should be used accordingly. They tend to cause some distress in viewers and thus are best used only for websites that contain special or unusual content.

Web Design Contrast

Web design contrast is not limited solely to the interaction between different colors on your web page, but also includes the interactions between texture, shape and size. Image contrast can be achieved through changing the size of the images as well the positioning of bright or dark images. Contrasting text can also be achieved by varying the size, weight and type of fonts used. The font used for links, in particular, should be properly contrasted so that they stand out. Remember not to overdo the contrasts on your web page, however, because that will make your site extremely unappealing to readers.

Web Design Emphasis

Web design emphasis is the creation of certain key areas of interest which attract the attention of the reader. Web design companies often caution designers against trying to make everything on the page stand out. Trying to emphasize everything on a page will make the design too uniform and difficult for the reader’s mind to encompass. Therefore you should only emphasize key elements in your design, allowing them to guide your reader to regions of interest or information on your page. Semantic markup, varying font and image sizes, contrasting colors – all are ways through which you can alter the emphasis placed on each element of your design.

Web Design Rhythm

Web design rhythm involves the use of repeating elements throughout your web site designs in order to achieve consistency and cohesion on each page. Some elements of your design will benefit from repetition throughout the web site as this will ultimately create a rhythm that is attractive to readers. Repeating the title of each page, creating a background that makes use of repetitive patterning and using the same navigation controls throughout the site are all excellent methods of creating a successful rhythm in your overall design.

Web Design Unity

The basic concept behind web design unity is the grouping of similar design elements together and the separation of differing elements. By organizing your web site in this fashion, you can create a site that is coherent and efficiently organized. Proper placement of individual elements in the layout of each page is essential to achieving web design unity. Examples of this include varying the distance between elements in your layout, changing the values for margins and padding and varying the amount of empty space surrounding text objects.

By taking of all these design elements into consideration when creating your web site, you can ensure the pages you create are all attractive, useful and attention grabbing. By applying them in to appropriate fashion, you will be able to complete your web design projects to the satisfaction of your customers.

Building Better Links in Web Design

The importance of links in a web page should be obvious to any designer, whether experienced or not. Your clients will undoubtedly request that links be placed in the sites you create for them and your web design company will ensure that you do so. Designers must not forget that the overall content of a site is not limited to the text, but includes images, links and all the other relevant components of a properly designed web page.

In Web Design Links Reinforce Scannability

Online visitors to a site are almost always drawn first to images. Links are the next thing that they notice, because they are always underlined and coloured differently from the rest of the text. Your web design company is likely to instruct you to make sure that links included in each web page catch the attention of viewers. Links, in addition to good textual content, will allow readers to scan through your web page quickly. Links will only do this effectively if they are well-worded and have some relevance to the content of the rest of the web site. Your web design company will probably make an effort to emphasize the need for this.

Web design Tip #1: Links on Your Home Page

A good web site should always contain links to all the other parts of the site on its home page, unless the entire site consists of only a single page. Most visitors to the site are likely to simply scan through the content of the home page, so it is important to ensure that the text of each link clearly describes the part of the site that it links to. Your links must also stand out, so avoid having a home page comprised solely of links and no other text. Link titles should also be plain and straightforward, giving readers a very clear description of where the link will lead. Your web design company will undoubtedly be happy if you also include links to other general pages found on your website.

Web design Tip #2: General to Specific is the Way to Go

Online users who are trying to find specific information will generally follow the same sort of search pattern – they will start their search with general terms that will get more and more specific as they discover new information. Links should operate on the same logic, leading the viewer from each page to a page that has slightly more specific information than the previous one, and so on, allowing viewers to slowly refine their search.

Web design Tip #3: How to Write Links and Setting Them

Some good guidelines to follow when creating links are shown below.

• The log files of your website will contain information regarding the most common search terms used by visitors to your site. Try to identify these terms and include them in your web pages as links to the other parts of your site.

• You should ensure that links lead to the pages that they are supposed, and not elsewhere. Links that do not lead readers to the pages that they expect to visit do not form a very good impression of your client or your web design company and this will not be good for your reputation as a designer. Readers who feel that they have been tricked will likely leave the site and not come back again.

• Make the text of your links clear and concise. And if they state that they link to something such as an e-book, phrase them such that there is no mistaking where the link should lead. “This e-book…” is a good example of a link that should lead to an e-book, and not some other web page.

• Links should always serve a clear purpose. If you have included a link in a web page and are unable to clearly define the purpose of the link, then it should be removed. Always keep in mind that the purpose of your web design company is to provide services to both your clients and readers so make sure you only include links that are important.

Both your web design company and your clients will definitely appreciate it if you take the effort to make sure that links are as effective and well-integrated into the website content as possible. The text that surrounds a link should contain relevant and useful information, and the link itself should be related to the surrounding text, and be very clear in its purpose. If a link is going to direct readers to another page composed entirely of other links, then the first link should clearly state that it leads to a another page full of links.