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Understanding Good Web Design Principles
 by: Adrian Mullan

We've all heard the line 'Don't judge a book by its cover'...but let's get real for a moment.

In the real world everyone judges you (and your business) by the image you project. The same goes for your website.

For many businesses, a website is the first point of contact for potential customers so it's vital that you make a good first impression.

The three key components of any web design are:

1)Presentation
2)Functionality
3)Usability

Presentation refers to the way your website looks.

Great websites are easy to spot because they:

- Look clean and professional
- Make sensible use of colors and graphics
- Attract the right target market

Bad sites are equally easy to spot, because they:

- Are difficult to use
- Make bad use of color combinations and graphics
- Have text that is too difficult to read
- Pages that take too long to load

Functionality refers to your website's ability to give users what they want.

For example, if you wanted to a book an airline ticket online, a site with good functionality would allow you to:

- Easily view the available flight times
- Compare pricing options
- Make a booking with your credit card

A less functional site, would:

- Not have the ability to check pricing or book flights
- Contain vague or ambiguous information
- Have a confusing payment process

And finally, Usability refers to how easy (or difficult) it is to use and navigate your website.

Have you ever visited a site that took too long to load?
A website where the text was too small and you struggled to read it?
Or a website where the menu system was confusing to navigate?

That's bad usability in a nutshell.

If you want to create a website that is functional, easy-to-use and quick-to-load, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

DO:

- Immediately tell visitors what your company does.
- Allow visitors to find information with a minimum amount of clicks.
- Keep your menu options clear and simple.
- Use decent font sizes that are easy to read.
- Keep sentences short and split paragraphs into chunks.
- Give your visitors relevant content.
- Use dark text on light backgrounds.
- Make liberal use of 'white space' as it helps break up the page.
- Keep your website quick-to-load by using graphics sparingly.
- Design for your target audience, not your own personal preferences.

DO NOT:

- Use more than 3 main colors on your site. Try to stick to a consistent color theme across your website.
- Use multiple font styles, sizes and colors. Stick to the one font style to keep your site looking consistent.
- Overuse graphic effects, flashy logos or sound effects - they'll simply distract users from the main message of your site.
- Use lots of industry 'buzz' words.

 

About The Author

Adrian Mullan is the author of 'The Internet Demystified' and founder of WebDummy.com, which is a popular internet marketing resource for small business owners.

This article was posted on April 05, 200

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