Last updated on March 17th, 2016
Web design is a fun, challenging field that’s open to anyone who wants to make their website look a little better this year than it did last year. You say you’re not a designer? Even better! You’re a clean slate, without any bad habits or corner-cutting methods to un-learn in your next project.
For non-designers, seeing a site built is something like watching a foreign film without subtitles; designing one is like directing the same picture with no knowledge of the local language. Thankfully,
There are a few tips to make it easier to get through the process with your head intact.
1. Weight Based On Language
There are certain guidelines to composition that apply in different situations, but in general the weighting of a website is based on the reading direction of the local language. If you read English, Italian, or another language that’s read from right to left, your content should be weighted and composed starting on the left. If you’re working in Hindi, Japanese or another language read from right to left, then content should be weighted to the right. Under no circumstances should your content be perfectly centered, regardless of how multilingual your audiences might be.
2. Never Use Black Or White
Even the sharpest black and white website should never—or at least rarely—employ the use of true black (hex code #000000) and true white (hex code #ffffff). Using shades off by a single level—hex code #eeeeee for white and #111111 for black, for example—results in an easier reading experience for everyone. While there are various reasons for this, from avoiding migraines to being more readable in general, design pro Ian Storm Taylor reports that the best reason to employ this practice is because using pure black is unnatural, producing lowlights that overpower everything else in the image.
3. Ditch The Super Footer
For about six months in 2013, the “super footer” was the next big thing in web design. Top web sites included footer sections that, instead of being less than 100 pixels high and containing simple information and directory links, grew taller than a standard monitor screen and contained everything from a live weather widget to a tag cloud and a second copy of the company logo. This was seen as useful for search rankings, but according to HIS Web Marketing, it could actually be detrimental to a website’s SEO under Google’s newest guidelines. Not to mention the design was found more than a little obnoxious by viewers and customers, and so fell out of the practice quickly. Don’t aim to be the one to bring it back.
4. Always Use The Logo
This should go without saying, but your company logo needs to be on the page. In fact, every page! The best way to achieve this is to place the logo in the header that persists across your entire site, but there are plenty of other ways to pull it off. Just make sure that every page has your logo on it, readily visible upon first load, and you’ll be fine.
5. Avoid Too Much Animation
As a non-designer, you may find moving parts endearing, exciting, or at least pretty fun. While this is true for things like links that swell up a little bit when you hover over them or, in some cases, a trail of small and unobtrusive graphical elements that follows the browser’s cursor, in general animation should be treated like seasoning. You should definitely use it, as your site is bland without it, but too much of it will overpower the main dish entirely. Unless you’re in animation, try to limit your site to one or two live animated elements per page.
6. Use Your Logo’s Colors
Your site should be copacetic to your corporate colors, which should be based on your logo. Never have your logo recolored to match your website, even for holiday events. Your logo is the face of the company, so changing it or using colors that clash with the rest of the site is like wearing last season’s clothes on the runway.
7. Make Sure It Looks Good
This means testing the site on multiple resolutions, from a 4-inch smartphone to a 50-inch HD TV. Your site won’t look perfect on all resolutions, of course, but it should be designed with multiple resolutions in mind.
According to RapidTables, the five most common resolutions today are:
- 1366×768: 15.6-inch laptop or 18.5-inch monitor
- 1920×1080: 1080p TV, or 23-inch monitor
- 1280×800: 14-inch laptop
- 320×568: iPhone 5
- 1440×900: 19-inch monitor
Note that the iPhone makes it to number four; make sure that your site is mobile-friendly, or you could be missing out on some important traffic.
8. Take Your Time
Whether you’re working on your website yourself, or you’re reviewing this list so you know how to appropriately treat your designer, remember that good work takes time. Don’t rush your design or your designer, or you’re liable to wind up with a subpar website when launch day rolls around.
If you come across an element you don’t understand, or your designer does something you’re having problems getting into, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Tell your designer about your concerns or seek out the help of a professional designer.
10. Make Sure You’re Happy With The Result
The single most important design tip for anyone in website design, whether it’s as an observer or a designer, is that you should be happy with the final piece. It’s much more common for designers to be unhappy with the final result because of time constraints, creative differences between designer and client, or issues with the project overall; however, as a non-designer, it’s extra important that you’re happy at the end of the day. If you’re not, well, it’s time to get an expert designer on board!
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