Sunday, August 16, 2009

Effective Web Design

In order to design an effective web page, you must attack it in an organized fashion.

First, decide what the goals of the website are. For example, will your website advertise a product or service, inform the public, or serve as a blog for your personal musings.

Next, based on the goals, determine who your core web audience will be. Your web design should speak to your websites goals and drive traffic from your core audience to the site. Before you begin using any web design program, I recommend getting out a pen and several blank pieces of paper. On one piece of paper, draw out a tree structure, where each branch represents a different page on your web site. For example, you may start with your home page and then have a page that goes into more detail about the purpose of your website or provides contact information.

Look at the tree you have made and take a step back.

Do you need more pages or have you overcomplicated the site with too many pages. Make adjustments accordingly. Once you have identified all the potential pages in your website, consider how you will want your audience to navigate from page to page. Will you incorporate a tool bar that goes to each page or require the user to click links from one page or another? Consider if there are some pages where your audience will want to get to easily or more regularly versus pages that might contain only specialized information. Identify the most important pages and use those for your navigation.

Next, start by designing a template by drawing it on a piece of paper. The template will appear on every single page. At a minimum, it should include whatever navigation you have chosen for your site, along with an area for page content.

The template will help serve as a guide for the look and feel of your page, so you may want to do several drafts.

Now that you have designed your template, start to build each page's content. This may be a good time to start using web page design software. Remember to consider other people's copyrights when designing your page. In other words, do not steal images or content from others. Once your page has been built, consider different ways to monetize it. Will you sell ads or search for sponsors? Or perhaps you just intend this to be a non-profit endeavor. These days there are many services that provide easy ways to make money on your website.