Top 10 Tips for Creating Kick Awesome Websites
Thought we’d share just a few tips we’ve come across as we design each day. Seth Godin says lists are cool so I’m going to try one.
1. Think like a website. Try to keep in mind the limitations and strengths of the web when designing. For example, look for backgrounds that can repeat easily, or avoid designs that have a lot of overlapping transparency (at least until IE6 isn’t on so many computers).
2. Web typography. Your web typography will set your design apart from other studios. Study optimum line heights, widths and look for inventive ways to guide the viewer through your layout only using CSS rules. There’s something refreshing about only having 3 or 4 good fonts to work with. Flash replacement (sIFR) is alright, but don’t overuse it.
3. Subtle effects. A subtle gradient or shadow can add dimension without being tacky. Please keep the word subtle in mind, and only use when necessary. We don’t need shadows and gradients everywhere.
4. Variations of the same color. I like complimentary colors as much as the next designer, but not all designs have to be so polar. Again, subtle is the key here. Look for ways to implement your color, but at a different intensity.
5. Grids aren’t evil. There are lots of studies on grid based design, and generally I think they are a good idea. It helps you line things up and keep them organized. But hey, you gotta know the rules to break them, right? Pick your moment and break that grid for some visual interest.
6. Graphics and icons. Your icons or images need to be awesome. If you make them yourself, pay attention to detail and try to keep them uniform if you’re doing a set. If you can’t make them yourself, go buy a good set to use. Crappy icons or images will bring down the feel and professionalism of the site.
7. Details. Honestly, it’s all about the details. Sweat over them, pour over them. Work on it until it feels right, both as an individual section and when viewed with the rest of the site as a whole. It takes time, but it’s worth it. You’ll be happier with your work and your client will be, too.
8. Beauty can’t be skin deep. You can’t just make it look good, it has to be usable, too. Your grandma should be able to figure out how to use it. Don’t be too proud to change it if it doesn’t work the first time. Or if it can be better.
9. Design solves problems. We have our work cut out for us. Not only do we have a short time to understand an industry we’re probably not familiar with, but we have to satisfy the client and create a great user experience for the end user. Not to mention increase sales and traffic. Again, your job is not just to make it pretty. Make it useful. Solve the problems.
10. Code architecture. If we’re coding the XHTML and CSS, then a whole other discussion on design comes up (maybe another Top 10 list in the future). We are given the task of designing the architecture of the site from a code standpoint. The way we utilize HTML elements like header tags, blockquotes, divs, etc… has very important ramifications for accessibility and search engine optimization, and can help future proof the site for new designs down the road. Our design to the code that most people will never see can be almost as important as the part that they do.