Jan 2013

The Basics of Successful Website Design (Part 2)

Posted By - KentL

Design professionals need to stay on their toes and try to find ways of improving their skills. But, with hundreds of useful tips cluttering the Internet, you may lose the sight of the basics. We looked at three basic design elements in first part of this series (see Part I): focus on quality and credible design, choosing the right images and graphics, and respecting the layout.

In this second part of the series, we will explore the importance of fonts & typography, lightweight & speedy web design, and the significance of responsive web designing. 

4. Pick the Right Fonts

Text is also a part of web design. Many designers lose the sight of this fact. Sometimes, your fonts speak louder than your words. If all your attention is absorbed by the layout, images and the UX, you may end up ignoring the fonts. While this won’t wreak havoc with your design, it will stop you from reaching perfection.

Interesting fonts that match with the mood of the content can create a favorable impression on the readers. You need to experiment and make a concerted effort to make sure that the relative size of fonts is right.

By using ems or percentages, you can ensure that the text looks just the way you want it to, irrespective of the browser preferences of the readers. At the end of the day, you need fonts that match the images, layout and subject matter.

5. Don’t Sacrifice Speed to Style

As a designer, you are almost always connected to high-speed Internet. A substantial number of potential visitors to the site that you are designing may not be as lucky. If your website doesn’t load quickly and easily, you have erred. You also need to take into account the Internet connectivity of people viewing the site through smart mobile devices.

An average user is unlikely to stare at a virtual hour glass for more than a couple of seconds; he will open another tab and forget about the slow loading website. If he has to wait for a few seconds to go from one page to another on a slow website, he is going to hate the experience.

Your aim should be deck up the website with all data, images, and text that is necessary, but you must strive to keep it light. Optimize the images, optimize the HTML, avoid redirects, speed up your CSS and keep cookies small to ensure speed.

6. Be Responsive to Different Devices

The concepts of responsive web design and adaptive web design are relatively fresh. I know that they are not a time-tested, traditional part of web design. But every designer will have to face the challenges posed by multiple devices, screen sizes, and browsers.

Most businesses and companies demand websites that look good on mobiles as well as tablets. As a designer, it is imperative for you create designs that work on different screen sizes. You can either choose responsive web design, or you can design separate websites for different mobile devices.

Responsive web design works well in most cases. To make things work, you will need to minify your style sheet and scripts, squish your images, familiarize yourself with smartphone screens, include touch elements, and take care of a dozen other things. Responsiveness is a game changing concept, and you have got to stay on top of it.

In conclusion…
Keep these words of the well-known American designer Charles Eames in your mind: “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” Let the purpose drive your design. Stick to the basics and build on a solid foundation. Once you have done that, you can give wings to your imagination, explore innovative and experimental ideas, and introduce them into your design.

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