Web Site Design Details and Overview
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Website Design Details and Overview

by Paul Jacobsen

Tactical Graphic Design

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Website Design and Construction are now
as important as the design
& quality
of
your print materials.

There are some significant differences between the two, however. The most important of these are that print materials do not have to 'load' into a browser window and therefore intensity of graphics and color are not a limitation; and print materials do not need to be navigated because they are one-dimensional, as opposed to the three-dimensional nature of a website. A website, to be well designed and therefore optimally functional, must load fast and be easily navigated by the visitor ...these are the most important considerations, with good content following right behind.

Advertising experts have always contended that an advertorial piece has one to five seconds to capture the viewer's attention. This maxim remains true, in essence, for websites. The best content on the most elegantly designed website is of no practical use if viewers are not seeing and reading it. Too often website design includes intensive graphic saturation, flash introductions, animations, sound files (embedded or streamed) and complex java scripts… all speed killers that potentially lose your audience while they load. This is particularly important for the home page… the first page your visitor will view.

With this in mind, the adage "less is better" is particularly apt in the design of your website. However, this does not necessarily mean that intensive and colorful graphics are out of the question because properly constructed and optimized, it is possible to make most of them load quite quickly. Skill with graphics management is every bit as important as is skill with HTML construction.

Having loaded your homepage quickly and having been presented a credible and stylish impression, your visitor is prepared to explore your website further in his or her search for the desired information. This is where ease of site navigation becomes your next critical consideration. While this seems a simplistic aspect to stress, anyone who has spent time researching on the web knows that all too often sites are a confusing 'rabbit's warren' that seemingly leads the visitor in endless circles, and information is not grouped logically. Once again, even the best content is virtually useless if it cannot be found (and re-found) by visitors... navigation of a website must be intuitive, logical and as user-friendly as possible. In fact, many modern search engines, using highly intelligent algorithms, will penalize a website if information is not logically grouped and accessible.

Your website now loads quickly, presents well and the navigation system is clear and functional. Now comes content… good content… informative content… useful content. As discussed in other sections of this website, writing and presentation of written information is as much a part of presenting effective content as is making the appropriate decisions about images, diagrams and illustrations. Your website is your face to the world, literally. If your content is thin, uninformative or written in language the average visitor must struggle with, you can assure yourself that your website is actually nothing more than a costly, good looking and easily navigated 'decoration'. It is worth the time and effort to ensure your content is properly designed and presented.

Now comes the final step in the process. This is the step that, amazingly, most people pay the least heed to and regard of least importance. This step is called 'search engine optimization'… without which you have now paid for a catchy, user-friendly, well written decoration because if you are not coming up within the first few pages of search returns, you are not being seen most of the time! If you were to pay for a full color, glossy, professionally written brochure, would you just leave the stack on a bench somewhere, or would you ensure that your great brochure was being delivered to potential customers? Clearly you'd pick the latter because it would not make sense to do otherwise. Optimization is a detailed process requiring many factors to be considered and dovetailed. It is 'invisible', compared to nice graphics, helpful menus and good writing of content… however, it justifies those things and should not be overlooked!


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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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Last Updated - 03/11/2009 06:25 AM

Web Site Design Details and Overview