Carrying on the theme of building your own website.......
Business Link has some good advice here, and you can either print or download their guide, which covers topics including:
- Planning your site
- Technical website design considerations
- Accessibility issues
- Designing the site
- Designing for the user
- Web typography
- Site navigation
Here are some of the basic -but critical - principles of good web design:
- Think about your user/customer and how you want them to interact with the site. Are you designing more of a ‘flat' brochure site, or do you want to sell online as well?
- Make sure you clearly state who you are, what you do, who your target audience is, and how people can contact you. You know all of this, but Jo Blogs may have stumbled across your site by accident - it may be relevant to him, it may not, but he needs to know straightaway. He could be a potential customer.
- Create a common theme of colours, fonts, graphics and page layouts. Remember that this can be achieved without the need for spectacular graphics - simplicity and elegance can be more effective. Too many graphics will slow down your page load times, and make users impatient so ‘back out' and go elsewhere.
- Keep text to a minimum, and paragraphs brief. Make sure your font size is legible, and that readers will be able to distinguish it clearly from the background.
- Structure your page so that the most important information is in the centre, the next important is at the top, navigation is on the left-hand side and static material that is repeated throughout your site is either on the right-hand size or at the bottom.
- The brand and image of your business should be reinforced by your website. Consistent use of your company logo throughout the site will help in this, and should be viewed as an element of your overall marketing strategy.
You'll find more accessibility guidelines at the Web Access Centre, which provides information and advice on making your website accessible to everyone. This includes people with sight problems, hearing, mobility and cognitive impairments, as well as those using older browsers and slow, dial-up connections, or newer technologies such as mobiles and PDAs. You can also read the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which are produced by the W3 consortium.