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Topic 3 - Web Design


Web Design

  • 4 primary aspects of web design are content, technology, visuals, and economics.
  • The primary purpose of content is to inform or persuade users.
  • The point of using technology on a web site is to implement the function of the site.
  • The visuals provide the form for the site.
  • Need to consider the economic ramifications of building the site.
  • Web site should respect GUI (Graphical User Interface) principles where appropriate.

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What is Good Web Design?

  • A good web design is hard to define.
  • Designing Web sites needs careful thinking and a lot of planning. The most important thing is to know your audience.
  • Important aspect for web design process include:
    • artistic style, color theory, typography, and other visual concerns
    • information design, which specifies how information should be organized and linked
    • hypertext theory
    • technical writing
    • system design
    • programming
    • network and server design
    • business issues and project management

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Web Design Considerations

  • Users Are Scanners

    If you think a typical user will read the entire content of your Web pages, you are wrong. No matter how much useful information you put into a Web page, a visitor will only spend a few seconds scanning it before he decides whether to leave it or to stay. If you want a visitor to read your text, be sure to make your point in the very first sentence of the page. After that you should try to keep him occupied with short paragraphs and interesting new headers all the way down the page.

  • Less Is More

    Try to keep all sentences as short as possible. Try to keep your paragraphs as short as possible. Try to keep your chapters as short as possible. Try to keep your pages as short as possible. Use a lot of space between your paragraphs and chapters. Pages overloaded with text will kill your audience. Don't place too much content on a single page. If you have a lot to say, try to break your information into smaller chunks and place it on different pages. Don't expect any visitor to scroll all the way down to the bottom of a page with thousands of words.

  • Navigation

    Try to create a navigation structure that is common for all the pages in your Web. Keep the use of hyperlinks inside your text paragraphs to a minimum. Don't use hyperlinks inside text paragraphs to send your visitors to every random page of your Web. That will destroy the feeling of a consistent navigation structure. If you must use hyperlinks, add them to the bottom of a paragraph or to the navigation menus of your site.
  • Download Speed

    A common mistake made by many web designers is to develop a site on a local machine with direct access to the data, or to develop the site over a high-speed Internet connection. Sometimes developers are not aware of the fact that some of their pages take a long time to download. Internet usability studies tell us that most visitors will leave a Web page that takes more than 7 seconds to download. Before you publish any content heavy pages, make sure they are tested over a low-speed modem connection. If your pages take a long time to download, you might consider removing some of your graphic or multimedia content.
  • Let Your Audience Speak!

    Feedback from your users is a very good thing. Your visitors are your "customers". Very often they will give you some valuable wisdom, or advise you, completely free of charge, about what you could have done better. If you provide a simple way to reach you, you will get a lot of positive input from a lot of people with different skills and knowledge.

  • What Monitors Do They Have?

    Remember that not everyone on the Web has the same monitor as you have. If you design your Web pages to be displayed on a monitor with a 1024x768 resolution, some of your visitors with lower resolution monitors (like 640x480) might have problems reading your pages. Some users still have low resolution 640x480 monitors, but the trend is moving towards 800x600 as the low resolution standard. This Web site is designed to be best viewed on 800x600 or better resolution. If you are one of those developers with a sophisticated monitor (1600x1200?), make sure you test the display of your Web pages on different monitors with lower resolutions. One wise thing to do when designing the layout of Web pages is to let a section of each page be of variable size to fit the size of a large or small resolution monitor.

  • What Browsers Do They Use?

    Both of the two major Internet browsers (Netscape and Microsoft) have their own specialties and quirks that you must consider when designing your Web pages. If you are serious about your Web site, don't forget to test every page with different types of browsers. The most popular browser today is Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but remember that IE comes in different versions (4,5,and 6) and that Netscape is still a commonly used browser. Additionally, some of your visitors might use text only browsers, such as Lynx, or they might visit your site from an online service like AOL, CompuServe or Prodigy. Some of these browsers might not display your Web pages as well as you think. One wise thing to do when designing Web pages is to use strict, formal and correct HTML (or XHTML). Strict and correct coding will always help a browser to display your pages correctly.

  • What Plug-Ins Do They Have?

    Some elements in your Web pages, like sound and video clips or other multimedia content, might require the use of separate programs (helper applications or plug-ins). Don't use such element in your Web pages unless you are sure that your visitors have access to the software needed to view them.

  • What About Disabilities?

    Some people have serious viewing or hearing disabilities. These users might want to visit your Web site. Some of them will try to read your pages with Braille or speech-based browsers. Remember that all of your visible content is lost if you don't provide them with some text based alternatives for pictures and other graphic elements. Designing Web pages for people with disabilities is not an easy thing, but one small thing you can do - at least for people with poor eyesight - is to let your pages use a resizable font size.

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Web Design Process

  • The most basic process model used in web site development is called waterfall model.
  • One important aspect of the waterfall model is that it forces planning up front.

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Modified Waterfall Model

  • One possible improvement is to spend more time in the first few stages of the waterfall and iterate a few times, exploring the goals and requirements of the site before entering into the design and implementation phase.
  • It has been dubbed the modified waterfall with whirlpool to relate to the samll whirpools that are often found before a waterfall in nature.
  • When you approach a project with a high degree of uncertainty, the modified waterfall with whirpool approach is a good idea.

Modified Waterfall with risk-analysis whirlpool

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Types of Web Site

  • In general, there are three types of web site:
  • A public web site, is a web ste that is not explicity restricted to a particular class of users.
  • An Intranet web site is a site that is private to a particular organization, generally run within a private network rather than on the Internet at large.
  • An Extranet site is a web site that is available to a limited class of users, but is available via the public Internet.
  • Specific types of web sites:
    • Commercial sites
    • Informational
    • Entertainment
    • Navigational
    • Community
    • Artistic
    • Personal

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Commercial sites

  • Commercial sites are those sites that are built primarily to support the business of some organization.
  • The primary audience of a commercial site is potential and current customers of the organization.
  • A secondary audience often includes potential and current investors, potential employees and interested third parties.
  • Common purposes for commercial sites includes:
  • Basic information distribution. The site is used to disseminate information about products and services provided by the organization. Other basic information provided generally includes how to contact the firm via methods other than the web.
  • Support. Portions of the site might be built to provide information to help existing customers effectively use products or services provided by the organization.
  • Investor relations. A public company or one seeking outside investment might build a site or a section within a site to disseminate information about the current financial situation of the company as well as future opportunities for investment.
  • Public relations. Many firms use their web sites to distribute information to various newsgathering organizations as well as provide general goodwill information to the community.
  • Employee recruiting. A web site is often used to post information about employment opportunities and benefits of working for a company.
  • E-commerce. A growing number of commercial web sites allow a visitor, whether an end consumer or a business partner like a reseller, to conduct business directly on the web site. Common facilities supported by e-commerce sites include transactions like ordering, order-status inquiries, and account-balance inquiries.

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Informational

  • Informational sites are different from commercial sites in the general purpose of information distribution.
  • Government, educational, news, nonprofit organizations, religious groups, or various social-oriented sites are often considered informational sites.
  • The audience of the site is someone who has an interest or requirement to view the information provided.
  • The purpose of the informational sites varies dramatically. - Informational sites may be built to meet design criteria that may not make fiscal sense.
  • The crossover between commercial and informational sites can be great, but always remember that the main difference is that commercial sites are much more economy driven than informational sites.

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Entertainment

  • Entertainment sites are generally commercial, but they bear special consideration.
  • The purpose of an entertainment site is simply to entertain the site's visitors.
  • In some sense they are usually selling entertainment.
  • Web sites that are built to entertain are often required to break with convention to be successful.
  • Entertainment sites may find novelty or surprise more useful than structure or consistency.

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Navigational

  • A navigational site is one whose focus is on helping people find their way on the Internet.
  • These sites are called portals since the sites serve as major hubs pointing to other destinations.
  • A portal is a site that is generally a primary starting point for a user's online journey and serves to help people find information. Portals often attempt to provide as much information and serve as many tasks for the user as possible to encourage them to stay or to at least continually revisit the site.
  • Navigational sites would also include search engines or site directories - that coincidentally ae often the backbone of many portal sites.

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Community

  • A community site is one whose purpose is to create a central location for members or a particular community to congregate and interact.
  • Community sites are very interactive and are often dynamically generated and personalized.
  • Community sites and informational or commercial sites often cross over.
  • The main distinction between pure information or commercial sites and community sites is simply the ability for a site's visitors to interact with each other.

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Artistic

  • An artistic site is a site that is purely the expression of the individual or artist.
  • The purpose of the site would be to inspire, enlighten, or entertain its viewers.
  • It may not really care what the viewer thinks of the site. As long as the site makes the artist happy, it is successful.
  • Artistic sites may be user driven only in that they courage thought and maygo out of their way to avoid convention or logic.

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Personal

  • Often called a personal home page or just a home page - is often an expression of its creator.
  • Personal pages may be built to inform friends or family.
  • In some sense the purpose of the personal page is to personify the individual on the web.

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