Principles Of Web Designing

Designing an effectiveweb site requires more than just gathering relevant information and posting it on the web. Like a good paper or research presentation, a quality web project demands as much attention to the selection, organization and presentation of material as to the underlying research itself.

Before you begin, consider your audience and your goals. You should have a clear sense of who will be using your site (mostly college undergraduates) and what kind of experience you are hoping to provide. What exactly are you trying to accomplish here? Why is this important?

Plan your site on paper first. You can draw a "family tree" of pages with arrows indicating links. Or you can make a hierarchical outline. Either way, it is essential to organize your information and lay out the architecture of your site before attempting to implement your vision.

Site Layout

All the pages in your project should have a common feel: there should be consistency among backgrounds, color schemes, navigational tools and tone of voice. This is especially important if you are dividing up your site's pages among several team members. Otherwise, your project will seem like two or three separate projects lumped together, rather than a single, unified whole.

Provide a rich set of links within your site. Ideally, there should be multiple ways for your user to navigate your pages. You should consider including a prominent 'home' link or icon on each page, a menu or table of contents, and highlighted links within textual material to related information elsewhere on the site. Feel free to provide links to other pages within ECE or elsewhere on the web.

Don't hide important information. Users don't like to click too many times to find the information they want -- if information is particularly important, make it accessible up front. On any given page, remember that as with a newspaper, the top left corner is the most prominent.

The Medium

Provide opportunities for interaction. How is your site any different from a traditional print document? How can you involve the reader in ways that non-digitized texts usually cannot? Interactivity can be a compelling, innovative means of engaging your reader and creating experiences that cannot be replicated in other media.

Avoid text-only pages. Ideally, a user should never encounter an entire screen full of uninterrupted text in browsing your site.

Don't sacrifice elegance. Just because you can make images fly across the screen does not mean you necessarily should. Every design element of your site (colors, images, animation) ought to correspond thematically with the content and goals of your project.

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