August 25, 2002
I am sometimes asked to visit other sites and tell people what I think of their site and any suggestions I may have. For this reason I decided to write a "Design Tips" article. Keep in mind that these are MY opinions only and, as with all free advice, take from it what you will and ignore what does not apply. If you disagree, that is fine too. As I mentioned before these are only my opinions.
First I would choose a color scheme.. choose within 2 or 3 colors and stay there.. it gives the site a look of continuity and professionalism. Especially your main pages. I would keep these the same style of colors and graphics if possible. If your site is large, divide it into sections. Different sections could have a different color scheme if you had to have one but try to keep the same overall "feel" to your whole site. The exception to this is a poetry or fiction site.. many like to choose a graphic set that corresponds to the story or poem.. actually this looks ok.. what does not is when each page is entirely unrelated to the others in your site.. giving a "scattered" look about it.
Another pet peeve of mine, and this won't be popular, is the "floaters". I realize that many people like them. Personally they annoy me. I like to see pages stationary with little or no animation. I once went to a site that had so many different colors on one page, rainbow colored text, and animations everywhere… thought I would go into convulsions. I left immediately. Go for an uncluttered professional look. If you have a lot of content or images, break it into two pages instead of one. Not only will it look cleaner it will save on download time as well.
Make sure your site is easy to navigate. Ideally people should be able to get back to your main index from every page.. if not, don't make them click through more than 2 pages, 3 at the most, to find the main index page. Put your navigation along the sides or the top or bottom. That is where most people tend to look.. don’t bury it.
When writing your text, avoid underlining words for emphasis.. it confuses people as they are usually associated with links. Avoid the use of capital letters unless used sparingly. ATTENTION… enough.. that is fine.. got your attention didn't it? Writing your whole text in capital letters makes it very difficult to read. So do multiple spelling errors.. We are all guilty of typos but a page full of spelling errors is hard to read. If you don't have spell check, cut and paste it into a blank email and run the spell check from that, then cut and paste it back into your code.. I am guilty of this the most. I rarely spellcheck anything and I appreciate when peeps tell me I screwed up. Hard to proof read your own copy. You wrote it, you will most likely read over the mistakes.
As for my sets I tend to make them basically in neutral colors. Once in awhile I dip into the "gaudy-style". I have seen sites that the graphics they offered were an "event" in themselves, floaters, flashing, and overdone. Very nice if you have little content to offer.. as in a story or poem which would not require additional graphics of any kind..not only are you adding to your download time (which is usually already quite lengthy) but they usually clash with everything. A poem or story can look lovely on these type of sets but little else unless the person has a wonderful sense of style and doesn't go overboard on what is displayed on the set. This is the reason I try to strive for a "clean" look.
On a final note: Please no emails telling me I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground.. I never said I did, this is merely my spin on design.
(c) Outlaw by Design 2002-2004