on 18 October 18
Are you setting up a website for personal use? Perhaps you are learning the basics of web design so that you can find work as a freelancer, providing web designs for clients around the world. Either way, you may find it an intimidating subject to break into - it may seem at first that there are many rules and practices which will often seem overwhelming. This does not need to be the case, however: with a little research and a good deal of experimentation, you will begin to get your head around the subject of web design.
When you are entering the field of web design for the first time, there are a few rules of thumb which should be observed if you wish to get off to a good start. One is to avoid any layout which involves forcing the reader to scroll sideways: scrolling up and down is fine, but scrolling sideways is counter-intuitive and off-putting for most people. When it comes to colour schemes, try to avoid placing light text on dark backgrounds; this can work in small pinches for effect - for example, a short piece of introductory text on a website about astronomy which is going for a "space" feel, or a website about horror films which is trying to create a gloomy atmosphere - but should be avoided for the most part. Overall dark colour schemes are fine, but ensure that the main body of text is set against a light background.
First impressions count, so it is a good idea for your visitors to see as good a picture of your website as they can within a second of arriving. This means that your title, logo, any introductory text and key links should ideally be placed so that they are clearly visible without scrolling. If your site has a lot of links then it is acceptable to move the less important ones elsewhere on the home page. With blogs, as the reader will be inclined to begin scrolling downwards shortly after arriving, it is acceptable to use a sidebar for links, introductions and so forth.
You will probably have noticed that certain websites contain Flash introductions, animated elements and other bells and whistles. Will it be worth your while learning how to implement these elements into your website, or paying people who can? This will depend entirely on your site's subject and tone. If you have created your website primarily to showcase your writing, then the answer will be no: while you will want your site to look good, it would be wise to stay away from anything too gimmicky and distracting as your main intention will be to impart information. Websites for businesses, however, may like to use a small animated intro to impart a slick and professional feel, while websites about films will often go all-out in attempts to wow their readerships. Websites pertaining to children's media tend to show a particular fondness for such devices, as they aim to amuse their young audiences with small games and similar attractions.
Ensure that as many pages are possible are linked to from the home page, and that the links are kept close to each other. It is a good idea to repeat the links on other pages, to make sure that the reader can access each part of the site quickly and easily from any page which they may choose to visit.
Hopefully these pointers have given you the confidence you need to get started in web design. As with any creative pursuit, a large part of your development as a web designer will be down to experimenting, maybe making a few mistakes, and finding your own voice along the way. Bear these basics in mind and you will be all set to enter the fascinating and rewarding field of web design.
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