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Home : Articles : Designing or Redesigning

Designing or Redesigning

There are hundreds of sites around the internet (including Free Webmaster Help) which tell you exactly how to build your own site, but there is actually very little information for people on how to go about designing an effective website. In this article I will explain how you should go about desiging or redesiging a website. Please remember that these are just my suggestions and you will probably find that you will need to adapt them to find a technique which is easy for you.

The first part of any design is thinking about what sort of an image you want to convey with the site. Do you want to make a classical looking site, a technological site, a modern site, a simple site, a colourful site, a fun site, a 'cool' site or a site to convey a particular theme? It is very important that you know this so that your site ends up looking right for the content you are going to have on it.

The next step is to decide on the basics for the design. This is really two main things. Firstly you should decide on the basic layout for the site. Should there be a navigation bar on the left, should there be a title in the middle, should there be blocks of colour, should there be images in the basic design? Many people find that drawing out a rough outline of their site on paper helps although I generally find it easier to work straight on the screen. The second thing you must decide on is the colour scheme. At this stage it just needs to be basic, what the main colours of the site should be (navigation bars, backgrounds, text etc.). You don't need to decide on things like link colours yet. Remember that you should either have dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background.

Now it is time to start using the computer (if you are not already). Open up your web editor (or write the code for) the basic outline of your site. Put in some text like 'blah blah blah' so that you can see what it is starting to look like. Now you are ready to create any images/buttons etc. you need. To start with you don't need to bother creating perfect images with small file sizes. Just create the basic images so that you can see what the design looks like. For navigation buttons don't bother making one for each section because it is a waste of time at this stage. Just create one with some generic text and then repeat it on the page.

Now return to the web editor (or code) and insert the images where you want them. You can now test the site in your browser. Immediately you will see things that don't work together and that can be improved. Now return to your image and web editors and start changing things. Once you have a design you like the look of you can start the next stage of testing. Change your screen resolution and look at your page in 640x480, 800x600 and 1024x768 and also try it in 256 colour mode to make sure it looks alright. Fix any problems you see here. You can also now try checking your site in both Internet Explorer and Netscape to see that it displays and is readable in both. You will be testing it further later, though.

The next thing to do is to start tidying up your site. It is quite likely that during your experimental stage you got a lot of excess code in your page so it is sometimes a good idea to start a new file and then create the layout you decided on. Next, load your image program and either edit your existing images or create new ones that are perfect. Make sure that at this point you optimize them to get the file size as small as possible. Also, you can now create your navigation bar images (if you are using them) for each section.

You should now have a page with your site design on it. Now is the time for final tests in both web browsers and at all three screen resolutions. You will find that you may have to make minor changes now, but nothing very big. Your design is now ready. You can either use it to create a template for your stie (if this is what you do) or any other way you use for making the rest of your pages.

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