Five Crucial Components of Web Design

Professional website developers know the importance of web design and the role it plays in making a website successful. Designing a successful website is no easy task, especially for someone who is new to the world of web development. With the help of web development applications many people can and do create decent websites. But decent in most cases is not good enough to make a site successful from a traffic or financial standpoint. 

There are five crucial components of web design that you must focus on in order to make a site valuable to its visitors and successful for you.

– SEO – Getting free traffic to your site.

– Usability – Ease of navigating around the site and finding desired information quickly.

– Aesthetics – Visual appeal.

– Content – Valid, up to date, relevant information

– Graphics – Eye candy that relays relevant visual information to the visitor.

SEO

Before you ever lay down a byte of HTML code for a site you have to know and understand at least the basics of SEO and how it fits into the design. SEO is the art of designing a site in a fashion that gives the site an advantage for obtaining free and abundant traffic.

The number one aspect of SEO is selecting keywords relevant to your site. The keywords you select should be based on high usage, low competition and relevancy to your topic. Once you select keywords you can then begin the development of your site. Keep in mind keywords are a critical aspect of the design. The keywords you choose will be applied within the design in strategic fashion to benefit the flow of traffic to your site. To understand more on how to implement SEO you should read and learn more about this important subject. If you don’t, your website success will be difficult to achieve.    

Usability

Your website must be easy to navigate and designed in a way that makes it easy to find information. Visitors will not stay long if it takes more than one or two clicks to get the information they want or if it takes brain power to figure out how to get the information they want. One of the goals of your site design is to keep usability easy, and simple. To do this, apply the following three fundamentals of usability.

* Provide a site search tool. A visitor in a hurry can quickly find the info they desire then move on to the action they desire.

* Provide simple, intuitive and consistent site navigation.  This provides visitors the tool they need to leisurely explore their way through your site.

* Provide logical and simple to follow content. The message of a site should start off in a simple and basic fashion with well defined links pointing the way to more detailed information or explanation as needed. 

In the cases above the goal is to make it easy for your visitor to find the information they want without frustration or difficulty. Doing this well will have a positive effect on increasing the return of your visitors.

Aesthetics

A website has to look clean, uncomplicated and strike a balance in layout that is pleasant to the visitor. Pleasing aesthetics come about when the colors of a site complement each other, the graphics blend and lend continuation of the theme and the layout brings unity and openness to the page.

Often overlooked by novice designers is the color palette of the site. While you can select color in a willy-nilly fashion and still provide a visually appealing site, a better idea for color selection should be based on an understanding of the color wheel and proven color strategies.     

Many web designers often view a web page as an opportunity to blast a visitor with lots of information in hopes this will convince the visitor to take action. Usually this results in a quick exit due to the overwhelming visual effect and complicated look. A better approach is to provide less content and open space (referred to as white space) to allow visitors eyes to scan and explore with ease.

Content

An important feature of any website is the quality of the text content. Visitors come to a site expecting to find answers to their questions, solutions to their problems or for entertainment value. The content offered at your site must be well-written, without grammatical or spelling errors. It also has to be relevant to the theme of your site, with valid, up to date information for your visitors. Content is King!

Graphics

You can have a functional and usable website without graphic elements. However, if there are similar sites to yours that employ graphics, guess which site will get the most traffic. The necessary companions to any well-designed site are the images and illustrations that grace its pages. The images can’t be any willy-nilly graphic that you might think is cool. Graphic imagery has to support your branding, and communicate the message you are trying to convey. Before you incorporate graphic elements into your site, take some time to look around the web. Notice what looks good and how elements are laid out. These same layouts techniques can be used as models for your site. 

The Internet is a highly competitive business arena. To be successful with a commercial website, you have to keep these five crucial web design elements in mind. Contrary to what many will tell you, it is rarely possible to have commercial success without the benefit of a professional website. This is not to say that you must hire a professional, however you must implement professional design elements to improve your chances for success.

Thriving With Web Design and Development

If you are a Web Designer or Web Developer, you most likely have asked yourself “Where is the work? How can I utilize my skills for a living?” The first answer that comes to your mind is “new businesses”. This in many cases is not accurate and you will not succeed or gain new clients with a marketing goal only targeted to new businesses. You have heard that you must find or achieve a niche when marketing a business or product right? The same rules apply.

Web Designers and Developers seem to compete for projects, so it seems only natural to find the source of business from the start and hopefully bid and win the job over “the other guy”. Other industry specialists such as Domain Investors and other Web Developers already have the projects and established capital, marketing plan, and usually a concept for their project or campaign and you better believe they need your assistance. This is not going to be the time to bid on a project and make $4,000.00 per job but instead is ideal for you to reply to their plea for help and offer “assistance” at a reasonable business to business rate.

So, where do you find other established Internet Professionals? Your first thought is probably SitePoint or some other forum or marketplace and while these are excellent establishments and offer a huge community of diverse web professionals. I feel that jumping into an existing community to solidify your brand or services from ground zero is not appealing and typically attracts the wrong attention. Realizing that exposure and conversions will not happen over night will prevent bogus attempts to get your name out. Create a task list for your promotion efforts and reserve a slot in each workday dedicated to writing helpful articles, providing scripts or designs for public use, and offering relevant insight in areas where help is needed while displaying your contact information (without over-doing it).

Remember every key stroke represents your business, you will achieve richer more targeted, quality results with a patient, proactive approach.

OS X Utilities To Aid Any Developer

Apple’s OS X operating system offers a great platform for software, web or other developers. Combining an intuitive user interface (UI) with a BSD-based underlying architecture, Mac OS X is a pleasure to develop on.

Though as a child, I grew up around various computers, such as old Apple Macintoshes and IBM PCs, my Information Technology career started off predominantly supporting Windows computers. I love computers, no matter what the platform, and a lot of my troubleshooting and development skills were first honed on initial versions of MS Windows. When I first started using Apples though, I got hooked on their intuitive desktop operating system. From OS 7 on pre-PowerPC CPUs, through to the current OS X on Intel hardware, Apple has had a very different approach to the desktop environment and user interface design than their competitors. I find it enables me to be more productive and be less stressed while developing, designing, writing or being entertained. Here, I will present to the reader some lesser-known utilities built-into the OS X operating system which can especially help web developers in their daily tasks.

Locking the screen quickly from the menu bar

As a developer or any professional working on clients’ files very often, I like being able to quickly protect my screen from prying eyes. When I get up to grab a snack, go to the bathroom, etc, I am able to lock my screen quite quickly. While you can assign an applescript to do the same thing and assign it a shortcut key, I am happy to use the following method:

  1. Open the Keychain Access application ( This is inside the Utilities folder which resides inside your main Applications folder ).
  2. Open the Preferences panel via the Application menu.
  3. Set the “Show Status in Menu Bar” to enabled.
  4. Done. Now you may close both the Preferences panel and Keychain Access application.

Now at the top right hand side of your screen, you should see a tiny padlock icon. Click once on this to open the menu, then choose “Lock Screen” to ensure your privacy before stepping away from your machine. This is not the same as logging you out, so when you come back to your computer, simply press a key or move the mouse to prompt for your password and resume work as you left it.

Applescript for web developers

On Apple’s OS X operating system, there are, of course, many ways to do one task. But, there is also one way to do many tasks – it is called AppleScript. AppleScript has been made available by Apple since it’s legacy operating systems were sold. It allows for creating automated workflows between the OS X system and Apple software, and also 3rd party software, which has opened up scriptable control for some parts. An example workflow would be that every time you turn your MacBook on, it would automatically open your favorite news website and read you the first 3 headlines. While this may sound a little gimmicky, many daily tasks for web or software developers can be automated using AppleScript and save you hours of time and energy over the course of a week.

A great example AppleScript which my team and I use very often is a custom dialog which allows us to bring up a list of all our clients’ domain names ( 400 and counting! ). Once a domain name is selected from the list, we are presented with a myriad of options, including:

  • Open in browser
  • Copy URL
  • Copy IP
  • Copy user
  • Copy password
  • Display all info
  • Login to SSH
  • Login to SFTP
  • Login to FTP
  • Download SQL
  • Connect to SQL
  • Connect to MAMP SQL

These commands and more are a huge time saver and negate the need to input each domain’s information into FTP clients or lookup login information in a text file each time we need to connect to a remote server via the Terminal application. For SSH logins via the Terminal, we simply click the button to connect and AppleScript enters the appropriate commands sequentially, waiting for the required delay before inputting passwords, etc. This also eliminates the need for us to maintain security keys for each domain for each user in the company – a great time saver! For high latency servers, we can simply click the button to connect and go back to working on other things while AppleScript handles the slow, boring login process for us.