Characteristics Of Good Site Design

Web Design

The Web is populated by a huge variety of sites, with content in various types of digital media. A good design depends partly on the purpose of a site. However, there are a set of broad principles that apply to most websites, and the characteristics of good site design tend to be similar regardless of content type. Good webpage design is not necessarily complicated, nor does it require significant amounts of expert knowledge.

Content

It is often considered separate to design, but the content of a webpage plays a key role in whether or not the design is successful. The type, size and layout of webpage content needs to be figured out when the design is being created. The purpose of a webpage design is to present the content to best effect, so it is impossible to come up with a good design without considering this content. In general, minimizing the amount of text that appears on a page makes it more usable, as does breaking this text into small chunks.

Layout and Design Elements

The two main factors in a webpage design are the layout and any design elements you create, such as graphics and images. For a successful design, these need to strike a balance between being attractive and not distracting users from the page content, which is likely to be their main reason for visiting the page. Graphic elements that are consistent in colour and style throughout a site help to create a lasting impression of it in the minds of visitors.

Media

Most webpages now contain many different types of media. This can include text, images, video, audio and animation. Many sites also contain elements such as RSS feeds, interactive components and links to other sites. Because the typical webpage is busy, with many different elements within it, it becomes even more important to present the content well, encouraging users to focus on it in spite of the many distractions. The most successful webpage designs tend to be minimalist while also being memorable.

Accessibility

Websites are visited by varied people in varied contexts, and it is the task of designers to ensure that Web content is made accessible to as many of these people as possible. Accessibility in webpage design involves numerous techniques. Within CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), pages tend to be more accessible if they use relative sizes and layouts, as these degrade "gracefully" across Web browsers, meaning that pages are better able to adapt to different browsing contexts. Using "alt" attributes within HTML also allows people to find out about content that they cannot access, for example due to problems with vision.

Interaction

Webpages are interactive, rather than just presenting information to be viewed. CSS and JavaScript are used to enhance this interaction, providing different behaviours when the user interacts with a page using their mouse and keyboard, or the fingers if they are browsing on a touchscreen device such as a phone or tablet PC. Using interaction can provide a deeper and more intuitive level of dialogue with a webpage, as well as a more enjoyable one.

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