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Dissecting Your Website’s Appearance

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Content content content! You’ve heard it ten thousand times I’m sure. Content is the most important aspect to your website. I’m not going to argue this point because we all know its true. Without good content your website would be useless. But since you’ve hard the content lecture ten thousand times, today I’m going to talk about something different. Something you’ve probably never been taught. How to make your website look pretty. It can dance and it can sing, but if it doesn’t look pretty your visitors will leave and never come back.

Let’s start our disection with colors. It seems trivial and you’ve already probably picked out the colors for your website but I want to take a minute to talk about them. Colors say a lot to your viewers.For instance, if your website is about web design avoid high-tech silver/chrome colors. Why is that? Because its used SO OFTEN. When I visit a website I want to see something new but still appealing. Make sure of your colors match. There are two ways to go about this. You can either pick a couple different colors that look good together, or you can pick one color and use lots of different shades of it. You have to be careful not to vary the shades too much or it can start look not as pleasing. Three-four shades is usually a good max.

Another thing you have to consider is “Do these colors reflect what my site is about?” Sometimes that question doesn’t have a yes or no. For instance, if your site is about web design, there isn’t a color that won’t fit your topic. But if your website is about Care Bears your most likely not going to want to use the same colors as if your website was about Batman.

So now I’ve told you some do’s and dont’s about color pickings but all I’ve really done is confused you. Heres three steps to picking good colors for website.

1. Decide if you want bright colors or darks colors.
2. Decide if you want more than one color, or more than one shade.
3. Test out how colors look next to each other using a program such as Photoshop.

OK, so that pretty much gives you the low down on colors, but there is a lot more to how your website looks than what colors are on it. Take a deep breath before you dive into the next section. Deciding on a layout of your website can be so difficult people have been known to throw their computers out the nearest window (if you suffer from any sort of anger management issues please move your computer to the first floor of your living residence).

I’m going to start this section of the article with a list of questions you will need to answer, don’t worry about the answers yet, because I will help you find out what answers suite your needs best.

1. Do I want my navigation on the top or the side?
2. If on the side do I want it on the left or right?
3. What type of header do I want on my site? A picture? A word? Both? Neither? 4. Whats a footer? Does my site need one of those?
5. What will the main page’s body be like? A picture? The latest news update? An interesting fact?

These, of course, are not the only questions you should ask yourself but these are the top five I decided to take a gander at. After discussing these five questions, any other layout problems you have, you should be able to figure out.

OK, question number one. Navigation. This is very important because if your visitors can’t get around then they won’t enjoy visiting your site. And if they don’t enjoy it, they won’t come anymore. Here are a few points to consider for this question. If you have a lot of links or you definatly see a chance of have a lot of navigational links in the future put them on the side. Links on the side of your page have an endless amount of room. But if you are going to have a smaller amount of links, or you have come up with a nifty to way to keep them more compact, then go ahead and put them on top. One dilema though about putting your links on top is that if you scroll down your visitors will not be able to see ANY of your links, and if they are on the side and they scroll down they will be able to see some of links (unless they scroll way far down). Play around with your navigation but don’t let it be something you don’t think about. It is one of the most important layout decisions of your site, if not the most important.

Question two is an easy one. If you put your links on the side of your website, put them on the left. That’s where everyone is use to having them and putting them on the right will only confuse people.

The header question is another important one. A boring header could mean a boring website, but boring doesn’t always mean what you think it means. A simple header like Invano has can be considered by some to be “boring” but in truth its not. That’s why your still at the site. Its not full of excitement but it doesn’t annoy your eyes when you see it. It has nice colors that match the site with a few simple designs. This often a good way to go.

If you want to design a banner with your websites name on to put at the top of the site you have to make sure you can either make a very good and professional banner, or you can find someone that will. A poorly made banner is enough for your visitor to think the site looks ugly.
The most important rule though is to NEVER just use font size 7 and write your website’s name on the top. This says unprofessional from the very begining and you can count on getting few hits on the site unless you offer something else amazing and eye-catching.

As with every layout choice you make experiment around with it and find what you like. Then ask some friends what they like because remember, the website is not FOR you, its for everyone else.

The fourth question is an easy one two. A foot is something at the bottom of the page that basically lets your visitor know that the page ends here. Of course they can tell it ends there because the scrollbar has stopped but without a footer the page can often feel empty. A footer often is a design much like the top of the page which adds even more to the effect of the page ending.

A lot of time, at the footer of a page you find Copyrights, Terms and Agreements, the Privacy Policy, and means of contact. Although none of these things are necessary to have on your site, if you wish to display them, the footer is the most appropriate place to put them. All in all, a footer is something you must have to complete your page. The last question you could debate in your mind for ages. The main hunk of your website on the front page is most likely what your visitors will read when they first get there. This is a chance to get them going where you want them to go. Often times webmasters will use this space to fill in their news updates, this way frequent visitors can see whats new and new visitors will have something pointed out that they can automatically look for. This is my reccommendation for your website but I will list some other ideas.

Another good idea is to have a picture. A large eye-catching picture. And of course you would have to change this picture very often so that people might come back to your website to look at the new picture.
One final idea to wrap up this question is to put a daily/weekly fact on your main page. If your website was about 1950’s Collectable Airplanes you could have a section at the front that updates called “Did you know?” and each week could be a different paragraph about a new fact conerning 1950’s Collectable Airplanes.