I’m taking a trip back down memory lane today thinking about how I got started in web designing. I remember when I started learning web design, it was in the early 90s and it was a different world back then. I remember buying this HUGE book, “Netscape..”, I forget the exact title but it was about 400 pages!
But I wasn’t completely satisfied, because my strength was in designing and this Netscape book only taught the technical aspects of building a site, but not the creativity part of it. So to learn to be a designer took more training and reading. I took classes after work in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Pagemaker (desktop publishing program replaced now by Adobe InDesign). I played at home designing flyers and ads. I enjoyed creating and I knew that I wanted to design sites.
I learned how to differentiate between good and not so good web design on the job. During that time a lot of websites utilized flash ads and lots of colors. But, in fact, the best sites I’ve seen use only three main colors and a minimum of two different fonts. They’re clean and easy to read. The whole idea is to create something that catches the reader’s attention, but makes them want to remain on that website.
A couple of my favorite examples of good web design are:
I always love how they take their newest products and build their homepage around them. It’s a clean minimalist design and even though I don’t have the money for that iMac yet, I’m still drawn to click on their products.
This is one of several places that you can build a website when you don’t know or don’t have time to do any coding. This site uses good whitespace, large photos which is very popular now and it’s easy to read.
I had to find my design style.
As I learned more about web coding and languages plus the drag and drop technology, I had to find my design style. I wanted to have a specific style that when you see a website that I designed you’d immediately recognize that it was me. That took me years and many, many web and blog designs later to find.
Still, no matter what colors and themes I like, the fundamentals of good design haven’t changed much:
- Less is more. I like breaking up text with images. We are a visual people and it helps to use good photos and break a lot of text up with “read more”, “click here for more info”, or “download our flyer” links that go to other pages. Most people don’t have a lot of time to scroll through paragraphs of text. So, I try to put the pertinent information out front and any details go on other pages.
- No more than two different fonts are needed. One for headlines and one for the body copy. Too many different types of fonts makes any page look confusing.
- Loading time. This isn’t exactly considered design but it does affect it, because a good designer realizes that the website must load fast. If a site takes more than one minute to load, chances are the visitor will click off and never come back.
The key to good web design is creating a site that will capture your audiences’ attention, but keep them coming back for more! And that’s always the end result. And once I found my design style, creating sites and blogs became much easier and even fun. Those years back when I was learning were also a lot of fun. And though I’ve moved away from designing sites for clients to focus solely on writing and creating for this blog, I still enjoy the creating part and I think I’ll always be a designer until my fingers can no longer operate!