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Designing a Web Site (Updated 4/10/2003)

-Stan Gelber

Since many of our visitors have--or are contemplating--their own web sites, I thought I would write a few words on what constitutes effective page design.

  1. Do not overload your page with small text. This overwhelms the reader and chances are it will not be read completely.
  2. If you are using a background graphic or color, use a font type, size and color that will be visible on top of the background. I am sure you have seen pages where the background downs out the text making it very difficult to read.
  3. Do not overwhelm your visitors with unnecessary graphics. Pages with lots of graphics load slower.
  4. Pages designed for high-resolution large screens do not display properly on smaller screens so optimize your display for a maximum size of 1024 by 768 pixel display. This displays very nicely on a 17" screen.
  5. Do not allow your pages to become too large. Large pages make it difficult to find specific information. Split pages based upon logical breakpoints such as having a reference page, a links page, an about page, etc.
  6. Make sure your content communicates your message; don't bury it with unnecessary clutter.
  7. Multimedia is great. Sound and video create interest and excitement but not everyone has a fast Pentium or Mac computer that can support the demands of multimedia activity. While more and more people have broadband or DSL, keep in mind that most people still use 56k modems to listen or view your content. Most visitors do not have the patience to wait for multimedia material to download and start. Give them a skip button.

Finally, keep in mind that a lot of browsers choose not to use the Java language. This is the code many web istes use for web page creation. If you want to appeal to the largest audience, you might consider creating different pages, one for multimedia and Java capable browsers, and one for non-Java based browsers. This can be accomplished by allowing the visitor to select the desired viewing format on your home page which then takes them to the one they want.

Ask your associates or friends to assess your web site with a critical eye and give you constructive feedback. A wealth of additional advice is available on line. Many of the most helpful web sites are listed in our Healthlinks directory in the Webmaster Information category. Good Luck!


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