Technical tips for designing a good web page

How do I create a good quality web page?

When designing a good web page, just keep in mind the following points:

But perhaps the number 1 rule in the Internet game when laying the foundations for designing a successful Web site is know your purpose. Rule number 2 is speed; followed by good presentation and good content as rule number 3. As one of UK's best-selling magazine, Personal Computer World, stated:

"You also need to have a long hard think about why you're creating a website. Lots of websites, from tiny, one-person operations to multi-million dollar super-sites, come unstuck because this has not been fully thought through. Don't create a website just because everyone else has one. For a site to succeed it has to serve the needs of the company or individual who's created it, but it also has to cater for the needs of the people you want to visit it." (4)

Finally, World Wide Web or the World Wide Wait, if people cannot download your main front page (or any other page for that matter) in about 28 seconds (maximum), you might as well forget about creating a web site unless it is for yourself and your friends. As Personal Computer World states:

"...poor website performance will lose you more visits than any other single factor." (5)

Yes, but I'm not good at web page designing!

So are we and quite a few million other people online from what we can observe. But if going to Art school to learn graphic designing does not appeal to you, then the best tip we can give you is to look at many different web sites created by different people. Then ask yourself, "Did that web page look good?" (your emotional response) and "Why did it look good?" (your technical response). Once you have answered these two questions will you have some idea of what graphic designing on the web is all about.

What topics should I talk about?

Well, practically anything really. So long as people are aware of the presence of your web site, there should be no problems in finding at least one person out there to read your pages no matter how mundane or ordinary your site may look.

However, if you want a lot of people to visit, read, and perhaps be captivated by the content and presentation of your web site, then you will need to understand the profile of most Internet users for an idea of what type of content and presentation will work online, followed by the ability to make things look good. For further information on the content of your web site, we suggest you click here for the page containing an essential look at the profile of most Internet users.

Alternatively, ask your friends to decide from a list of topics you've prepared on paper what they think is interesting. Be ready to act on the advice of your friends. And don't be afraid to push aside those topics considered uninteresting or unnecessary. Of course, if you feel absolutely certain the topic(s) is important for everyone to read, then include it. In the end, you must decide what you feel and think is best for your site and for the Internet community as a whole.

To give you some idea of what people want to read online, consider these words from Alex Kiam, author of the popular publication entitled, Australian Beginner's Guide to Making Money on the Internet:

"Online users want:

  • Useful information.
  • Something for free.
  • Entertainment.
  • Sex.

By fulfilling these desires, you can draw people to your Web site of their own volition." (6)

Should I design my web page first and then my content, or vice versa?

This is the proverbial "chicken-and-the-egg" situation. Which starts first?

A peruse through other people's web sites can reveal some interesting results. If a web site emphasises good design, there is a chance it will lose out on good content. Similarly, there are sites with great content, but have pretty lousy design.

We recommend taking the balanced approach when designing your web site because the world's best web sites will follow this balanced approach to good content and good design. So where do you start?

It doesn't really matter. You will eventually come back to where you started in the first place. If you like, start from the content and explore all the possibilities in this area, but always bear in mind you are looking for a good relevant design to make the content stand out well, easy to find, and present itself nicely. Eventually you will start to create ideas of how to design your web site around your content.

To ensure the design is really good, swap over and explore all the design possibilities. Perhaps you will see an alternative design which is better. Or maybe you will see the need to go back to your content and improve on it. What you hope to achieve in the end is a unified web site that ties up your content and design in a most logical, creative and emotional pleasing way.

You will sense this moment of achievement when you are finally pleased with your web site design and content and know that you have explored all the known possibilities when creating a quality web site.

Whatever content and design you come up with, just make sure it is interesting, fun and creative, and not just practical. Remember, few sites score highly on both an interesting content and an appealing design. So make the most of it and try to take the balanced road in your attempt to stand out from the crowd.

The basic principles behind designing web pages

Okay. So the things to remember when designing web sites are essentially this:

  1. Keep it simple;
    By keeping things simple, you will reduce download times (especially while the bandwidth is limited and not everyone can afford the fastest and best computers and high-speed connections in the world).

  2. Provide good content;
    By providing good content, people will be interested in your web site and will stay longer to read the information you have.

  3. Make it look good (without over emphasising all the design elements on a page).
    By making it look good, you will make it easier for people to navigate, find, understand and remember the purpose and content of your web site.

  4. Have someone check your web site regularly.
    By having someone (or something) checking your web site regularly, you can ensure your customers are appropriately helped along the way with prompt and professional service.

And if you intend to place email address(es), postal address and telephone numbers on your web site, make sure it is clearly prominent or accessible (via a link) from every web page, and there are resources to back it up (i.e. there is someone or something regularly checking for email messages and responding to calls from customers).

What is the most expensive part of designing a web site?

Creating a Web site is actually the cheapest part of getting on the Web. If you want someone else to do this job for you professionally, expect to pay up to $5,000 (i.e. basically chicken feed for most businesses!). However, the costs really start to mount if you employ an outside techno-talent to manage all your email, monitor traffic and constantly update web site content. The price can then climb to $50,000 or more per year! If you wish to reduce the financial headaches of creating and managing a web site:

  1. Create the web site yourself;
  2. Ask someone else to create a web page template using Macromedia Dreamweaver or other similar web page designing software. In that way, you merely add pieces of text and graphics to the template as you require;
  3. Provide only the information you are able to support;
  4. Use software tools to automate web site management and common customer enquiries (e.g. online live databases that link up to different kinds of information from different sources and keep it up-to-date); and
  5. Pay certain Internet users/part-time assistants outside the business to help manage your customer enquiries (i.e. outsource the support work).

Estimated percentage of the commercial costs for properly putting a web page online and maintaining it.

Before choosing someone else to create a web page for you, ask the person to show you an example of his/her work.