Designing Web Pages that Work
by Laura Gieseke
There are a lot of "how to" books on Web page design; the problem is
finding the right one for you. Even if you do find a good book, remember
that "there are no rules in Web design, just strong suggestions”
If you surf the Net, even just a little, it's not hard to run into a
poorly designed site. These sites detract from the user’s online
experience. Here are some "strong suggestions" every Web designer should
follow to avoid adding more poorly designed sites to the Web.
Many researchers agree on the usefulness of some basic design
techniques. Researchers advise Web designers to standardize the
navigational tools on each page and avoid using a "busy" background.
Most "how to" books dwell on the fundamental principle that less is
more: a busy background can distract the user from the words on the page
as well as make content difficult to find (Williams, 2000).
"Son of Web Pages that Suck" by Vincent Flanders, suggests that by
viewing poorly designed Web sites, designers can learn how to improve
their own. This book teaches one how to recognize poor design, and how
to avoid the same mistakes.
Another important fact to keep in mind when designing a Web page is
how people read online documents. Unlike paper documents, people are
more likely to scan the online document for information. To make people
read what's on your site, make things simple and stick with as few words
as possible. Make the text "scannable." The following, from "How Users
Read on the Web" by Jakob Nielson, is a good design technique to follow
when writing online documents (Nielson, 1997).
- highlight keywords
- use meaningful sub-headings
- use bulleted lists
- use one idea per paragraph
- start with the conclusion
- use half the word count of traditional writing
The number of sites on the Web is increasing every day, making the
World Wide Web an enormous database. With the number of available sites,
if a site is poorly designed, surfers won’t stay long enough to see what
it has to say. Making a site usable and well-designed will attract more
Flanders, Vincent. "Son of Web Pages that Suck." San Francisco, 2002
Nielson, Jakob. "How Users Read on the Web."
Alertbox, October 1997,
Williams, Thomas R. "Guidelines for Designing and
Evaluating the Display of
Information on the Web." Technical Communication
47, no. 3 (2000): 383