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Basic Web Design Principles

Basic Web Design Principles

What to avoid, the do's and dont's of Web Design

Zoran Makrevski 

Home Page

Home page should clearly indicate what the site is about. Provide top level navigation on the first page, your logo, and tell to the visitor what can be found on your web site. Your home page should be informative, and should entice your visitor further. Home page is the place where the visitor decides to click links, or leave the site. If you offer discount, or a free service in attempt to make contact with potential customers, make sure to provide links to that service on your home page.

If Flash is used on your entrance page, make sure to give the user possibility to skip the Flash intro. The link “skip intro” should be outside of Flash, otherwise you will force the visitor to wait until the Flash movie has loaded completely.

Navigation structure

Place the web site navigation in a clear and practical place. Don't experiment with navigation! I can't stress this enough. Keep the navigation system the same on ALL pages. Visitors do not have time to get to grips with your site navigation system if it is overly complicated. Consistency is the most important thing here. You should focus your efforts on building consistency across all pages.

Font size

Font size should be big enough so your text can be read without effort. There are many people who will not bother to read small print. Don't loose your visitors because of font size. Optimal size seems to be 12-13 points. Visitors should be able to read your text easily, without any effort. Brake big chunks of texts into paragraphs and make them easy to follow.

Line Length

The length of a line should be comfortable to read. The optimal line length for printed materials seems to be about 10 to 12 words, or 60 to 70 characters. Somewhat shorter lines of about 40 to 50 characters may be more appropriate for larger displays. If the line is too long the reader must search for the beginning of it and if it is too short it will break up words or phrases inappropriately.

Creating emphasis

Creating emphasis is an important and integral part of designing and typesetting. Handled with taste and good judgment it can help direct and inform the reader. When these qualities are lacking, or someone feels that every word is important and must be emphasized in some way then your web page starts to look like a battlefield and becomes difficult to read!


It's well known that a picture is worth a thousand words. This rule applies on Internet too. Be sure that you have clear, well presented photos of your products. If you offer a service, find a photo which will describe it. However, be careful about file size. Don't compress your photo to a level that is not clear, but at the same time ensure quality does not affect download time. The larger the file the greater the download time.

Gif vs. JPEG

Less experienced web designers use the wrong format when saving pictures. Here are a few guidelines which will help you avoid mistakes. If your photo has a small number of colors (less then 64) GIF will be a better choice. Make sure however to reduce the palette size too. That is, if your image only has 10-15 colors, reduce your palette to 16 or 32 colors.

Additionally, if your image contains text, GIF format should be your choice. Saving text as a JPEG will cause the text and edges to become blurred.

If you are saving a photograph – save it as a JPEG.

JPEG images can contain over 32 million different colors. That is much more than the human eye can see.

If you want to incorporate large text into a photographic image, JPEG may be a good format to use. While the edges may still get blurred, there is little danger the text will become illegible. If you think your image is more important than the text, go ahead and use the JPEG format.


Make an effort to reduce the download time. We live in a busy world and people are not willing to wait. Try to reduce size of your graphics as much as possible without damaging image quality. An image must look good, but size (in KB) should be as small as possible.

Test before publishing

Do your homework, and do it well. Your visitors will not bother to send you notification that some of your links don't work or that some of your images don't load. Even if someone does so, it is quite embarrassing. Perform spelling and grammar checking. Remember that in many cases a visitor will build an opinion about you or your company on basis of your web site. When published, a site should not contain any “under construction” or “coming soon” messages.


About The Author

Search Engine Positioning Firm

Zoran Makrevski

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