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August
25
2009
Designing an effective web site

Designing an effective web site requires more than just gathering relevant information and posting it on the web. Like a good paper or research presentation, a quality web design as much attention to the selection, organization, and presentation of material as to the underlying research itself. You should strive, above all, to be both clear and engaging in every aspect of site design.

Without the first, you will quickly lose your audience. Without the second, you'll never catch their attention in the first place.

Here are some concrete suggestions for making your site a winner:

  • Plan your site on paper first. You can draw a "family tree" of pages with arrows indicating links. Or you can make a hierarchical outline. Either way, it is essential to organize your information and lay out the architecture of your site before attempting to implement your vision.
  • Give your site a descriptive title. Your title should convey the content of your site in a concise but engaging manner. Remember, the title is how your site will be identified on the ECE home pages. Ideally, it should pique the curiosity of users and prompt them to explore your project pages.
  • Include a brief introduction. This should be part of your site's home page, and should explain the scope and purpose of the site. Once users have noticed your title and followed a link to your site, they will expect quickly to find a further elaboration of your title, a brief paragraph or two describing what the site is all about and what makes it interesting. You've caught the user's eye with your title; the introduction is your chance to heighten their interest and persuade them to actually stick around and explore.
  • Site's home page as starting point. The viewer should be able to see at a glance what your site is about, how it is laid out, and what kinds of resources and features it includes.
  • Make sure your text is legible. Check the size, color, and font of all text within your site to confirm that it can be easily read. Be especially careful of dark or fancy backgrounds that make text hard to read.
  • The site is platform independent. Your site should be viewable on the most commonly available browsers, FireFox, Goggle Crome and Explorer. Consider the needs of your viewers. Think about the Size your site will require. Keep in mind that not all users will have the luxury of an ethernet connection. Minimize the memory requirements of your site by compressing images and other large files. And make sure all your images have ALT-TEXT behind them. This makes the site accessible both to low-vision users and users with slow modems who have turned the images off.
  • Structure of Navigation. The navigation structure should be place on the specific area of the page where the internet users can easily find it. Navigational structure's location on the page is standard and should be experimented just to give uniqueness on your website. Let your layout and design be responsible for the uniqueness of your site. So, it is better to keep your navigation system same on all pages to avoid confusion on the part of the web visitors. Just like what you do in writing, be consistent in all aspects such as in putting up your site navigation.
  • If you want to use flash website, put "Skip Into" option and should be outside the flash. Or else, you are forcing the web visitors to wait until flash is loaded. This is a big turn off on the part of the internet users. Flash can be visually appealing depending on what it presents, but generally it is distracting.
 
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