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Web Site Graphic Design Is Much More Than Code

small business web site designYou could have the best product or service your niche or industry has ever seen, but if your web site is badly designed, it won’t matter – people will take one look and run in the opposite direction. Now that may sound dramatic or harsh, but it is 100% true.

Internet analysts say that you have between 1 and 5 seconds to make an impression on a visitor to your website. They will take that impression and make the decision to stay or leave within those few seconds. The wrong web page site design can kill your business before it even starts. That’s why it’s so important to have a good design. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate work of art; it just has to be professional and pleasing to the eye.

You can always use webpage templates, there is nothing wrong with that! As a matter of fact, I encourage it for those of you who want to focus on your business as opposed to your website design (which, speaking from experience, can be very time consuming for the novice web designer). If you are going to use a template, just be sure that the style fits your industry and the layout can accommodate your idea for your website. Also, try to avoid very popular templates. You want to set yourself apart, not look the same as your competition!

Templates range from $30 – $65 on average. That’s a really good investment considering the time it will save you! Yes, there are some nice looking free templates out there, but to be honest, if you want a truly professional template, you have to buy it. Besides, everyone wants freebies, so you know those free templates are being used all over.

If you are going to design your website yourself, there is more to it than just learning the HTML and CSS; you have to know how to makeyour web site design functional and attractive. You want to make it easy for your customers to buy or find the information they are looking for. The goal is to accomplish this with a website design that radiates professionalism. This will make your visitors confident that you are the real deal, not just someone who wants to take their money.

Some Simple Website Design Tips

There are some general Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to web site graphic design. Here are a few of them.

  • Don’t: Overload your pages with graphics or text
  • Don’t: Use blinking text, clashing colors or overly busy / animated backgrounds
  • Don’t: Use background music
  • Don’t: Have any “under construction” pages – the search engines hate them and so do visitors
  • Don’t: Choose form over function with website navigation. You visitors will get confused.
  • Don’t: Overuse all caps, italics, bold or different text colors – it makes your page harder to read
  • Don’t: Overwhelm your visitor with tons of links in your content or ad banners everywhere
  • Don’t: Rely on JavaScript, plug-ins or visitors downloading something to make your site work
  • Do: Maintain an overall look and feel (style) throughout your website
  • Do: Use a consistent color scheme and recurring visual elements
  • Do: Turn off the blue borders around linked graphics or photos
  • Do: Evaluate your page from the user’s perspective… or have a friend review and test it
  • Do: Use consistent, accessible and clear navigation at the top and bottom of every page
  • Do: Keep your font variation low and your paragraphs aligned consistently across your website
  • Do: Use whitespace and readable font sizes to make your content easy on the eyes
  • Do: Use a website design that fits your industry… so visitors to know they’re in the right place
  • Do: Use a web design book to take the guesswork out of creating engaging, profitable websites

The Best Web Design Books

The books listed below cover web site graphic design. Their focus isn’t web programming (CSS & HTML); it’s on creating an appealing design that is easy to navigate. I highly recommend using one of these resources along with a CSS Book to give you a complete understanding of both sides of the web design coin. It will also help your design come together much faster. The web site graphic design books below are the best available. They are well organized and guide you through step-by-step so you can easily understand the material – even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body!

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design
Title: The Principles of Beautiful Web Design
Author: Jason Beaird
Publisher: SitePoint; 1 edition (January 31, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0975841963
ISBN-13: 978-0975841969
Page Count: 168 Pages

What the Critics Say: “This is a thoroughly practical guide to web design that is very well written: good technical depth in easy-to-understand language with excellent illustrations and graphics that support the text. For many users it will be the only web-design text they will need. For those who want to further advance their skills and knowledge it will provide a sound foundation.”

What Reader Reviews Say:

“Jason Beaird takes us through the design process in a number of steps: layout, color, texture, typography and images. He shares his wealth of in-depth knowledge in a way that makes it accessible even to those of us who do not have a university degree in design.” -Tommy, Sweden

“This publication could have saved me quite literally weeks and months of stumbling research had I discovered it years ago. For budding and established web designers, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.” -TheOriginalH, USA

“Beaird has written a very concise, gloriously illustrated work that does a tremendous job of covering everything from layout/composition to textures and color. The Principles of Beautiful Web Design isn’t just for lame design folks like myself. I imagine even accomplished web designers could learn a thing or two from it. “ -James, OH

“Beaird’s book is very well written and a great help in understanding what makes a beautiful website. Given how many truly bad websites are out there more designers need to read this book.” -Brad, NY

“This is a great book to learn about and review principles of design, especially web design. It is an easy read, well structured and, as a visual learner, love the many pictures and figures throughout the book. This is a simple step-by-step guide to web design that I recommend.” -L.C., USA

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Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual

Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual
Title: Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual
Author: Timothy Samara
Publisher: Rockport Publishers (April 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1592532616
ISBN-13: 978-1592532612
Page Count: 272 Pages

What the Critics Say: “Being a creative designer is often about coming up with unique design solutions. Unfortunately, when the basic rules of design are ignored in an effort to be distinctive, design becomes useless. In language, a departure from the rules is only appreciated as great literature if recognition of the rules underlies the text. Graphic design is a “visual language,” and brilliance is recognized in designers whose work seems to break all the rules, yet communicates its messages clearly.”

What Reader Reviews Say:

“Design Elements is the best primer on graphic design I’ve encountered. I heartily recommend this book for anyone seeking a serious, concise overview of all the major elements of graphic design.” -ZanBee, NM

“I bought this book to pull together design of a website/e-book/pdf print project. …the value is in its visual graphics and text design.It’s a keeper.” -Peter, CA

“I didn’t know a thing about graphic design and this book has helped me tremendously. It covers all of the basics thoroughly and is more interesting to read than most other graphic design instruction books I have seen. There are good examples of every concept presented, so you can see exactly what they are trying to illustrate. It covers everything from choosing text to overall layout, color selection, etc.” -C.M., NY

“I teach several beginning and advanced level graphic design classes and this is the book I always have my students purchase. Students love the book!” -William, CA

“For the novice, even the technologist who is not a graphical designer, this is an excellent text on graphical style. It is probably the only guide you’ll ever need. Very complete, very detailed and inspires good use of graphics, text and even space. Excellent.” -Marc, USA

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Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience

Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience
Title: Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience
Author: James Kalbach, Aaron Gustafson (Technical Editor)
Publisher: O’Reilly Media; illustrated edition (August 15, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0596528108
ISBN-13: 978-0596528102
Page Count: 456 Pages

What the Critics Say: “Thoroughly rewritten for today’s web environment, this bestselling book offers a fresh look at a fundamental topic of web site development: navigation design. Amid all the changes to the Web in the past decade, and all the hype about Web 2.0 and various “rich” interactive technologies, the basic problems of creating a good web navigation system remain. Designing Web Navigation demonstrates that good navigation is not about technology – it’s about the ways people find information, and how you guide them. Ideal for beginning to intermediate web designers, non-designers, and web development pros looking for another perspective, Designing Web Navigation offers basic design principles, development techniques and practical advice, with real-world examples and essential concepts seamlessly folded in. How does your web site serve your business objectives? How does it meet a user’s needs? You’ll learn that navigation design touches most other aspects of web site development.”

What Reader Reviews Say:

“Lots of screenshots from well-known websites, great layout and good organization make the book a pleasure to read. The book starts by explaining general principles, so even if you’re new to the concept of interaction design, you’ll quickly get up to speed.” -Susan, AZ

“In today’s day and age where the Internet is a part of our everyday life, there has never been a time more appropriate now then to have really good navigation on your or your client’s website. James Kalbach does an excellent job describing every facet of this complex and sometimes daunting process in a very detailed yet easy to comprehend fashion.” -Kyle, CA

“The ability to navigate a web site can make or break your user’s experience. I learned far more than I thought even existed in the book Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience by James Kalbach. It’s obviously more than just putting a list of links down the left side of the screen.” -Thomas, OR

“…presents a strategic, consumer-driven approach to web navigation. The simple layout and organization of the book make it a must read for any website designer whether [you are] a large corporation, or a start-up business.” -A.M., USA

Help your visitors navigate your website with ease!
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