The Basics of Web Page Design
Written by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD
Sections of This Topic Include
· Naming Your Website
· Why Websites Fail
· Simple Guidelines About Page Format
· Simple Guidelines About Page Content
· Simple Guidelines About Promoting Your Site
· Useful Web Addresses About Web Basics
Designing Your Web Page — Preparation
· Your Web page is a communications tool — it is not a product by
· Therefore, plans to build a good Web page should be part of the planning
for client services
· Websites are easy to build — challenge is making it logical and
simple to follow
· First ask yourself some basic Web page design questions:
1. What do you want to accomplish?
– Getting the word out? (information-oriented, with “contact us” so
they can e-mail you)
– Build mailing lists, etc.? (they provide information to you)
– Building relationships? (interactive between you and the Web page reader)
– Earned income over the Internet? (e.g., selling books, “e-commerce”)
– A specific interface to specific services?
2. Who is your intended audience?
– “What is my reader trying to solve?”
3. Where will you get the necessary expertise?
– Designing/drawing the page
– Technically programming the page
(this is not as hard as it used to be —
use “homemade” home pages)
4. Who will conduct client services?
– Updating information on the page, etc.
– Answering e-mail messages, etc.
– Testing for broken links
Naming Your Website
Pick a name (up to 24 characters?)
· Think long-term when picking a name
· Name should be descriptive of your organization’s overall
· Pick a name that’s easy to type in …
· To register a name, go to http://www.networksolutions.com/ — that
the site will tell you if the name currently exists or not
· If you pick a name that substantially resembles someone else’s,
they may sue you and have you remove the name
· “.com” identifies a user as a commercial entity
· “org” for non-commercial entities,
· “gov” for governmental bodies
· “.edu” for educational institutions, and
· “.net” for network services
· If outside the United States is usually an abbreviation for the
Why Websites Fail
· The following is based on the work of Michael Gilbert, editor of
the “Nonprofit Online News”
· He identifies five types of problems that Websites have
1. Upside Down Site — the content is good but is buried under an impenetrable
2. Dead Website — it’s never updated. A variation is the Dead on
—- is updated, but you’d never know it
3. Disconnected Website — all the communication is one way, from the page
4. Cool Website — “Las Vegas” effect — so enamored with technology,
it says nothing
5. Stingy Website — gives nothing of value
All of these problems are caused by focusing on the Website as a product
rather than means of client services
Simple Guidelines About Page Format
· Visit many Websites — pick which ones you like and think about
why do you like them
· Pay attention to their coloring scheme, placement of text and images
· Have short, simple pages
· Be consistent with images, colors, and formatting of text
· Be careful (avoid?) the use of scrolling text and images, and blinking
· Be careful (avoid?) background images
· Try to get all images or text on a page to fit on one screen
· Don’t overdue frames and graphics!
· Try to put conclusions at the top of the page
· Have a link to the home page on every page
· Remember that diverse clients, countries, etc. are reading your
· Always tell visitors how to contact you
· Consider a “site map” – this tells users about the overall
arrangement of all of your pages
· Consider a “table of contents” or header at the top of
· Test your page with several browsers, e.g., Netscape, Internet
Explorer, American Online and CompuServe — try a laptop, too
– Do color, images, and text appear as you
– How long does it take to download your
page — if more than five seconds, too long?
· Update your site regularly with new information — announce updates
· Avoid “Under Construction”!
· Have someone review your site for you — they get lost? any confusion?
Simple Guidelines About Page Content
Here are Some Emerging Criteria for Evaluating Web Page Information:
1. Accuracy? – is the information really
2. Authority? – sound hollow? half-hearted?
3. Objectivity? – too much hype?
4. Current? – if anything is out of date, it all is
5. Coverage? – mention all of your services?
Think about your clients — how do they speak? what do they value? what
would they want from your page? Write to that audience …
Design for disabled clients? large fonts, minimal scrolling, and clicking
Simple Guidelines About Promoting Your Site
· Announce your site to various search engines and directories
– “SubmitIt!” at http://submit-it.com/
– “Postmaster2” at http://www.NetCreations.com/postmaster/registration/try.html
· Monitor your traffic — find out how many “hits” you’re
getting per week
· Consider link relationships with other sites — you link to them,
they link to you
· Use signature files — mention your Website at the end of your
· Join online newsgroups and participate — your signature files
is spread all over
· Put your URL on all of your letterhead, invoices, business cards,
· Consider issuing a free newsletter (watch copyright terms, etc.)
USEFUL WEB ADDRESSES ABOUT “WEB BASICS”
These addresses are on the web page Computers,
Internet and Web
located in the Free Management Library
GETTING CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET
Set Up Computer Networks and Connections
Getting Connected With ISPs
BASICS ABOUT THE WEB AND BROWSERS
DESIGNING AND EVALUATING A WEBSITE
HIRING SOMEONE TO DESIGN YOUR WEBSITE
GUIDE TO THE WEB AND MANAGING YOUR SITE
PROMOTING A WEBSITE
ADDITIONAL MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION
For the Category of Information Technology:
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