Web Design Tips - Pt. 1
 ISSUE 32   June 2002|  updated 7/10/02   


49 Tips for Better Websites

As part of a recent (6/02) workshop called Website in a Weekend I tried to create the Ten Commandments of Web Design. Maybe proper human behavior can be summed up with ten rules, but I couldn't make web design that simple (I failed miserably as Supreme Being).

The best I could do is 49 Tips for Better Websites. This month we'll start with Writing for the Web, Visual Design, and Color. Next month we'll add Type and Graphics, and we'll finish up the following month with Domains & Hosting and Promotion.

Keep in mind that these are only my opinions, based in experience and lots of research. Many were learned the hard way. But they're still only opinions. I welcome your ideas for additions and/or deletions to these lists.

Learn more about web design:
Online tutorials
Recommended books
  Writing for the Web
  1. Remember: people scan when reading on the Web, they don't read every word!
  2. Use inverted pyramid style: put the conclusion at the top.
  3. Be concise: word count should be about half as much as for print.
  4. Discuss only one idea per paragraph.
  5. Be yourself: a personal, direct, friendly writing style helps win readers over; humor helps.
  6. Lists are good - they allow read to scan for items of interest.
  7. Highlighting words and phrases helps scannability.
  8. Use links to outside sources: they add credibility.
  9. Be careful: misspelled words, typos, etc. reduce credibility.
  10. Be modest: boastful "hype" or marketing language reduces credibility.

Agree? Disagree? Email me your comments. See also links on writing for the web.


Visual Design for the Web

  1. Design for your audience, not for yourself.
  2. Put critical content "above the fold" (approx. 600 x 400 px)
  3. Create clear hierarchy: most important, less important, least important.
  4. Create simple navigation system, use it consistently.
  5. Keep important content no more than 3 clicks away.
  6. Avoid web "cliches": spinning logos, 3-D buttons, blinking text, rainbow effects.Be consistent (color, type, graphics, etc.)
  7. Use animation (very) sparingly, where appropriate.
  8. Consider "fluid" or flexible design that adjusts to browser window.
  9. Design for all users: avoid specific browser/resolution requirements.

Yes? No? Email me your comments. See also links on visual design.

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  Color for the Web
  1. Color sets a mood: choose colors that fit your topic.
  2. Don't overdo it! Use limited palette (group) of 3-6 colors.
  3. When in doubt, be conservative (similar colors, simple color scheme).
  4. Use color to highlight important items.
  5. Use color to show relationships: similar items in same color.
  6. Avoid bright colors and/or patterns in the background.
  7. Use browser-safe palette whenever possible.
  8. Don't expect exact color rendering: all monitors show colors differently.
  9. Avoid very subtle color differences, they may not show up (see above).
  10. Text color should contrast clearly with background (black on white is best). No red on blue, yellow on purple, etc.!

No way? Way? Email me your comments. See also links on color.


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Learn more about color:
Understanding & using color