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Beginner Guide to Website Design

A Beginner’s Guide to Web Design & Publishing

This is out latest guide to web design and publishing created for beginners out there looking for info how to design a website from the very begging and elements to pay attention to when working on it.

Let’s start with content.

For any and every website content is king. Intentions are great, but the Internet is a busy and complex place. In order to stand out and call attention to itself, a website must present its content in a way that will meet the needs and, most importantly, the expectations of the Internet users who might go looking for that information. This means that the navigation should conform to some basic rules, and certain visual elements should be placed in obvious and expected places to achieve maximum effect. Also, investing in content marketing is a long-term strategy you have to stick  with.

The core website design question to be asked and answered is:

What structure and visual representation of the work, product, interest or cause will present it in its best light, and make it as easy as possible for users to find their way around the site?

Beyond that, the actual process of website design can be contracted out (whole or in part) or not, based on the web publisher’s level of technical skill.

Designing or Finding a Web Designer

For many new web entrepreneurs the hardest part of putting their work or interests online is the design process. For this aspect of publishing there are basically two options. The web developer can design his/her own website, or they can hire someone to design it for him.

For the tech savvy publisher, designing his/her own website need not be a difficult proposition. From Dreamweaver, Microsoft Front Page, WordPress and other WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) programs to page design programs supplied by most web hosting companies (complete with page templates and other basic web design tools), there are any number of ways to basically cut and paste together a functional website in a couple of hours.

For web entrepreneurs who have neither the time nor the inclination to design their own site, or who want or need a really advanced design, hiring a competent web designer is a fairly straightforward process. By asking around on forums, or among friends and colleagues, it should be fairly easy to locate a designer with some viewable samples of their work already online. Also, it may be possible to barter for design services.

Basic Web Design Principles

If content is king, then the content must stand out. All design elements should “point” (lead the user’s eye) toward the main content being displayed. For this reason it makes the most sense to position the main content front and center in the design (in the middle column in a three column design layout, etc.) Navigation buttons design and tabs should be clearly and concisely labeled and prominently placed (typically at the top or left of every page or major sub section).

Next to actual content, contact information may be the second most important aspect of any website. If the site’s ultimate purpose is to display the products, creative work, or the elements of a hobby, or charitable cause so they can get some recognition to generate business or interest, it’s vital that interested Internet users be able to get in touch with the site owner. For this reason, contact information should be put in one of three customary places on the site, and should include at least two methods of contact.

Typically contact information is placed either at the top or bottom (header or footer) of at least the home page (if not every page) of the site. Some people like to put their contact information on its own page, with a link to “Contact” or “Contact Info.” prominently displayed in the site’s navigation scheme.

The contact information should contain at least an email address and a phone number. For email it’s best to include an Email link so all the interested party has to do is click a button and a blank email will automatically be generated and addressed.

In a standard three-column webpage the right hand column can be used for banner advertising, or for short (5-12 word) teasers/links for other content on the same site.

One of the best ways to get ideas for design is to look at the other websites designs and copy the elements that seem to work, and present the content in its best light. For those who plan to hire a web professionals this is particularly important as it lets them show the designer exactly what styles and formats they like. It saves a tremendous amount of design time and cost.

Designing With a Consistent Style

Stylistically it helps to begin all website designs using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This unified system of styling the text and graphic elements of a website helps web designers and website owners maintain a consistent look to the pages of a website.

Notice of Copyright, and Use Restrictions

The final item of critical importance on any website page is the copyright notice, ownership attribution, and usage restrictions. This should be placed in the footer on every page of the site.

An example of this information would be:

Copyright © 2009 – 2010 SEOogle. All Rights Reserved.

The content of this site is the property of SEOogle and cannot be used without prior expressed written authorization.

Many people consider design of the website to be the most crucial, and often most difficult part of starting a website. Though complicated and critical to maximizing the benefit of the site, the design of any website can be elegantly simple or, extremely complex. Either way the work of designing a website to display their writing online can easily be done by the site owner themselves, or farmed out to a professional either for money, or for bartered services.

Once the basic structure of the website has been designed, it’s time to begin developing the content to fill that site. Definitions of key terms and phrases can be found in this Guide of Web Design & Publishing.

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