The Zen of Web Design
Web design is an Art involving simplicity, intuition and skill. Great Web design occurs when a definitive goal has been established and relevant questions pertaining to that goal have been clearly answered.
Let us first speak of Audience-
In order to begin walking the web design path, one must first answer this age old marketing question, “Who is your Audience?” This question must be thoroughly evaluated in order to build a web that is truly worthy.
Further questions to ponder concerning your audience are:
Who will be coming to visit your website?
What information will your visitors need from the website?
What type of computers will they own?
What type of web browser will they be using to view your website?
Are accessibility issues a factor?
Now, sit quietly and begin to meditate on the goals of your website -
When one begins to understand the primary principles involving your web audience, attention must be given to the real intention of your website. A true master once said, “…if your trying to grow peaches, then don’t plant tomatoes”. One must diligently walk down the right path to website enlightenment and continually focus on the right goal in order to get the right result.
Ponder these questions when thinking of the goals for your web.
What is the purpose of your website?
Are you using your site to sell a product or service?
Will you be creating an online gallery to display your Artwork?
Is the goal of the website to raise awareness about a particular issue? How about a community organization?
Although you are clearly walking the path, many steps remain in order to reach the true enlightenment found in the creation of an outstanding website. Let’s continue to move through the process.
- A Golden Lotus Learning Tip: Early on in the web development process it is a good idea to be thinking about your website budget. How much money will be allocated to initial development, strategic marketing and ongoing maintenance once the site has been launched?
Envision the look and feel of your Website-
Study must begin to determine what your website must convey. First settle in and do some relaxation, before the real rigorous work begins. Relax by letting go and mindlessly surfing the web. As you travel through vast web dimensions, notice what instinctively reaches out and “grabs” you.
Okay, now get a pen and paper and ponder these questions.
What do you like and dislike about particular websites you’ve seen?
Are you attracted to a particular color, theme, website look or logo?
Do you want to produce an emotional response when individuals visit your website?
Are you attracted to certain type fonts and images?
Do you like a particular way information is presented or structured?
- A Golden Lotus Learning Tip: Creating a flowchart or diagram of your website is a great tool in establishing organization of your web. You may want to use colored markers or pencils for your flowchart or a chart software tool such as Microsoft PowerPoint. If this is something you are not yet ready to tackle, please consult a web master for further assistance.
Breathe easier because you are half way to gaining website enlightenment. Let us continue our journey and learn of one of the most important principles in the Art of web design.
The Way of Organization-
This is at times the most daunting task in the development of websites. Even so, it is essential that one touch fear with a stick in order to conquer it. Organization enables website visitors to have a great website experience. And organization allows you the co-creator to have a hand in prioritizing information and in better understanding what is most important for your visitors to see and know.
To begin on the way to organization, it is imperative to have all of the needed materials at your disposal; this includes all text, pictures and downloadable media or materials. At this stage one must begin the process with a glass that is full, not half empty. This part may take some time, so a timeline is a great tool in keeping a website project on track and on target with the completion date.
A clean and clear website needs consistency from the beginning and will be of no use to the viewer if it is meticulously pieced together in slow stages. Websites need solid foundations. Just as it is illogical to rebuild a foundation of a house, it is truly not wise to reconstruct a website’s main navigational scheme or layout. That is why this stage of development is so critical. This is not to say that continual maintenance is not needed. To think that is preposterous! Web maintenance is essential and the key to having website visitor’s return.
Significant questions to ponder about website organization-
What will the main navigational layout look like?
What pages of the website will need to be updated with new information?
How often will those pages need to be updated? Weekly, daily, monthly?
How many pages will need to be sub layers of the main organizational scheme?
Will a website visitor easily understand the website layout and be able to find essential information in less than three hyperlink clicks?
Do I need to consider any future changes in my product, service or company that may affect the main navigational structure?
- A Golden Lotus Learning Tip: Once the organization of a website has been decided, it is time to further consider web maintenance. After your website is fully functional and online, who will answer future web e-mail inquiries? Will web maintenance be done in-house or will it be outsourced? And if web maintenance will be outsourced, who will be the web liaison in charge of finding and providing information for future web updates?
You have climbed the hill, now all that is left is the trek downward. Website enlightenment is now within your grasp.
The KISS mantra- Keep it simply simple.
A website should not be complicated for the general website visitor. Keep language simple, your pages short and the navigation easy to understand. Competitor websites are everywhere and a visitor can easily go elsewhere if they are confused in any way while traveling through your website.
- A Golden Lotus Learning Tip: Be thinking of key words or phrases that a visitor would use to search for your site in search engines or directories. Embedding these within page content and meta tags will allow your site greater chances of being found and will distinguish you from your competition and give you chances to re-emphasize your vision and website goals.
The Digital Media Dimension-
Websites are made up of many elements. Some of those elements include digital media; such as pictures, graphics, logos and text. Success will be ensured when these elements are in computer formats that are readable by web browsers and web masters. To begin web development, it is required that graphics be saved in the following file formats (Gif, Jpeg, Tiff or Eps). The written word is just as essential and therefore must also be converted to digital format. Acceptable file formats for text are (Txt, Rtf and Doc). If this is a process that is unfathomable to you, allow a graphic master to help you with the task.
A Golden Lotus Learning Tip: Not only must elements be converted to digital formats, but they must also have a place of belonging. When sending digital media, it is not a skill of any web master to intuitively know what belongs where. Please let a web master know what elements should be placed on what page or in what section.
If you build it they will come-
The final stage before true website enlightenment
This is a beautiful wish, but in cyberspace it’s NOT true. There are many online marketing strategies to consider, and many tried and true conventional marketing strategies that work just as well, if not better. Remember, to shine your website light among friends, family, co-workers and business associates. Place your website URL (address) on all printed marketing materials. Add your website information to an e-mail signature file. Look into Web rings of similar topics and check into reciprocal link exchange programs. And after that, continue to chant the praises of your website to all that will hear.
Stretch your elbows and crawl out of your online finger lotus position. See your world with new eyes. You have reached the first level of website enlightenment. Yes, I apologize that I didn’t tell you. There are seven levels to becoming a full fledged web design master.
Even enlightened masters need further study –
Working on becoming a web design master
Learn all you can about online dealings. Join computer or website online newsgroups. Take classes in web marketing strategies. Start a group with other web design enlightened souls. Hey, even learn to code in HTML, which stands for hypertext markup language. Keep learning, so that one day you too may become a web design master.
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