Website Design…

The subject of website design has come up in conversation a few times recently. Whilst searching on the net I came across this site:

http://usability.gov/guidelines/

The nice thing about this site is it bases its statements on research and rates the strength of the research that backs the statements. There’s very little you haven’t already heard, but it seems people are still making the same mistakes after all these years.

The things that stuck out for me were:

  • Planning – Have an idea of what you are aiming for before you start. If you take a random approach to design and development you will get a random result. Make group decisions on the look and feel. Relying on one persons opinion will reduce the chances of have a site with mass appeal.
  • Colours – Basic colour schemes rule. Black text on a white background may seem boring, but it’s easy to read, which is why just about every publication you will see uses it.
  • Navigation – It should be simple and consistent. People need to understand where they are and where they came from!
  • Layout – Use page layouts that are appealing to the eye. Jumbled pages don’t scan well and are generally very annoying.

For anyone still convinced, take a look at all the really big IT company websites and you’ll see most of very plain and simple:

Personally I find the whole design thing very difficult. I’m not very artistic and I don’t have a great eye for colours, but that may be my saving grace 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

8 thoughts on “Website Design…”

  1. I guess what I’m saying is that alot of the time functional is perfect.

    Design people feel they have to earn their money so they fill the page with whiz-bang stuff, when a basic colour scheme and reasonable layout are what people really want.

    Cheers

    Tim…

  2. black text on white background sucks. It is left over from wysiwyg editors. Someone needs to tell these people that black on grey or other contrasting colours (light green or blue) is better for your eyes, and in some cases white on dark blue is much better. But it really depends on the exact hardware, and the real thing begin missed is html should be configurable by the user!

  3. I agree that any high contrast combination works well for normally sighted people, but there are many conditions that make the use of colours a problem. In some cases, even high contrast colours appear to be the same.

    As for light text on a dark background, I for one find this very hard to read, resulting in eye strain quite quickly.

    Why not make your website readable by as many people as possible?

  4. The Internet is not print media. The “white” that underlies normal black text is not just a passive reflection of all wavelengths as a white page in a book would be, but an active, glowing, irridescent output of lots of light at all wavelengths. The difference is that whilst I have no problem with black ink on white paper pages, I have a lot of problems with black text on white websites. The active white is extremely tiring on the eyes.

    Wherever possible, users should indeed be able to choose whatever colour scheme that suits them. I made dizwell.com do that a long time ago, for precisely the ‘functional’ argument you advance. Sometimes, however, it’s not possible (eg, my blog provider). On the grounds that I’m the one that probably reads my blog more than anyone else, I then choose what suits me. I know *my* mind a good deal better than I can guess what everyone else’s mind is up to.

    Incidentally, “little things like image description tags” are mandated by XHTML standards (and even plain old HTML 4.0), so to say they are “appreciated” is missing the point. If you aren’t doing them, you ain’t following standards…

  5. Howard:

    Of course, everyone has the right to pick the colour schemes that suit them, and with sites like blogs and personal web sites it really isn’t a big deal.

    My original blog post was a reaction to some commercial websites I have issue with. Commercial websites have an obligation to make their sites clear and usable. Added to that it makes good financial sense not to annoy your users where money is concerned.

    I agree, giving the user the ability to customize their look and feel is a good idea. I will have to take a look at this for ORACLE-BASE. when I get time.

    Cheers

    Tim…

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