Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Principles of web Design: Content, Accessibility, Presentation.

Designing good websites is not simply a case of throwing a
load of funky graphics at the screen, there are 3 main areas
to consider, here I give a brief overview of these key areas
and explain why they are so important.

Content : Content is king. The whole point of the majority of
websites is to provide content, be it text, pictures, mp3s or
whatever to users. When you build a site the first thing you
should consider is the content. How much is there likely to be,
how often will it change, what content do you want the visitor
drawn to first and so on. Design the site to fit the content,
dont create a site first and then try to decide where to put
everything, it simply wont work.

Accessibility : There is no point in content if people cant
access it. Furthermore you do not want to limit accessibility
to those people fortunate enough to have the latest browsers
& plugins, with high speed connections and with no special
requirements. The World Wide Web Consortium(W3C) publish
guidelines to aid developers in creating standards compliant
websites by writing clean, browser-friendly code. They also
provide automated services for checking that your web pages
conform. It is important to note however that compliance with
these guidelines does not automatically ensure your site is
fully accessible to all potential users. The best way to
achieve this is to test your site against the Web Accessibility
Initiatives guidelines. These are purely self-tested and if you
decide your site has passed you can award it with an A, AA or
AAA logo.

Presentation : Presentation has very close connections to
certain areas of the accessibility issue. In particular
good use of colours is important from both viewpoints.
Too many colours makes any site look un-coordinated and messy.
Stick to a few basic colours for text, backgrounds, logos etc
and use different shades of those colours to add depth. Make
sure text colour and background colour are significantly
different to make reading the text nice and easy. Similarly
do not use an array of different fonts, stick to one or two
throughout the site. Serif fonts such as Impact are good for,
surprisingly, making an impact on a visitor whereas sans serif
fonts like verdana are much easier on the eye when reading.
Large blocks of text look very unwelcoming to visitors so try
to avoid them particularly on the homepage, break text into
paragaphs and sections with sub-headers, lists and so forth,
use images where appropriate to give the user a break from reading.

Overview : It is important to note that all three of these
components are vital in creating good sites but the balance
between the three will vary from site to site. Just remember:
Plan the design to fit the content; keep content fresh and
accessible; make the site pleasing to look at and interact with.

Article written by Adam Harding.

Article Source: http://www.articlesnatch.com