What you need to know about Web Design

If you are thinking about either creating a website or hiring someone else to create a website for you then there are a few facts about web design that you need to be aware of.

You Get What You Pay For

Perhaps you think you know enough about technology to create a website yourself or you know a family member or friend who says they can build a website for you for free or much cheaper than a professional web designer. The trouble is although they may build you a website that looks okay, later down the line you may start to notice that there are a few things that aren’t working as they should. You may even get a call about copyright infringement and when you need any updates or site fixes your relative/friend is either too busy to help or they don’t know how to fix the problems. What sounded like a good idea at first has now left you with a site that doesn’t function as it should and you are back to square one.

What do you want your website to look like?

You should have some idea of what you want your website to look like. Take a look at your competitors’ websites and take notes about what you like or don’t like. You should also think about the message you would like your website to convey to its visitors.

When it comes to web design one should not judge a book by its cover

To create a custom website that functions correctly on all browsers and platforms, meets current web programming standards, and presents content effectively and professionally throughout the entire website takes a great deal of work. It can take pages of code to make a modern website function. To see some of this code you can right click on any web page and select View Page Source and the background HTML will be revealed.

When you look at a finished website, you are just seeing the pretty outer shell. Underneath all that apparent simplicity there is a mass of HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript and possibly a host of other web development technologies working in the background to produce the end product. This code should ideally conform to current W3C web standards.

You can use the W3C code checker to validate HTML and CSS. If there are a lot of errors in the code then this could potentially cause problems with accessibility and cross-browser compatibility.

Make sure your site is accessible to everyone

Up to 18% of internet users have a disability - perhaps visual impairment or a hearing problem – and you need to make sure your site is truly accessible or you will be missing out on potential visitors/customers. For disabled users or those people who use text only browsers it can be a challenge to read content or even navigate on a website that isn’t accessible. Your site should not rely too heavily on images (Flash based sites are particularly bad for disabled users and also tend not to work on many mobile devices), the navigation should be text based where possible and the site should have the necessary code in place to assist these users in reading and navigating your site.

All Web Browsers Render Websites Differently

Every web browser, whether it is Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Safari, interprets the background code differently and sometimes even different versions of those web browsers will render the site differently. To try and overcome this problem a web developer needs to include additional conditional code in an attempt to make the website look as uniform as possible across all major browsers.

Websites Look Different When Viewed on Monitors with Different Resolutions

The higher the screen resolution is, the smaller and sharper a web design will look. As screen resolution gets lower, however, the same web design appears larger and grainier. Although high resolution monitors are becoming more and more affordable many users still access the Internet with computers and monitors that are over five years old. In addition the use of mobile phones and tablets for browsing the Internet is becoming more and more popular and these smaller screens present new challenges to web designers. In order to optimise a website for such a variety of screen sizes and resolutions developers are having to look at various options such as responsive web design, mobile optimised versions of the site or simply electing to target the most popular screen resolutions when building a site.

Fonts will render differently on different devices

Windows and Macintosh computers render fonts differently. Additionally, the fonts that display on a web page can be dependent upon the fonts that are installed on the user’s computer. Viewing a website on a mobile phone can also result in a different font to the one you intended.

Optimisation of your site is vital

The Internet is filled with websites that have failed to make an impression and to avoid the same happening to your site people need to be able to find your website when searching for relevant keywords. Google currently commands over 85% of the global web search market. Therefore, if you want your website to succeed and to rank well in Google you will need to adhere to Google’s guidelines and you will need to make sure your website contains relevant, optimised META tags. Online success and visibility of a website requires time and effort. You need to keep your website up to date and relevant. This requires an active marketing and search engine optimisation strategy.

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