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Your approach to webdesign
How would you like to see the net?
Garfield




msg:334057
 11:31 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi folks,

I've been asking myself what the majority of webmasters is thinking about good/bad site design. There are a lot of bad sites out there, some with good content, but horrible layout and design. There are some sites that purely consist of well designed flash stuff, and there are others that are reduced to great content and a fine, but unobtrusive layout.

What would you like sites to be? What do you personally like? How do you design your sites?

- sites that center on screen with fixed with
- sites that adapt to the screen width?
- flash sites?
- content first, then layout?
- flashy colors or more dull or pastel?
- what about font sizes and styles?
- pure CSS?
- tables all the way?
- great usability?
- background music or sounds?
- frames?
- ...?

Personally I like websites that center on screen, have a nice unobtrusive layout and good content, that are very easy to use and do not bother the user with many/huge graphics, flash or sounds. Form follows function...

I'm looking forward to your answers!

Cheers

 

robotsdobetter




msg:334058
 11:39 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

sites that center on screen with fixed with
sites that adapt to the screen width?

No!

flash sites?

I love Flash, but hate to wait, if you know what I mean

content first, then layout?

Little bit of both.
flashy colors or more dull or pastel?

Flashy colors.
pure CSS?

CSS does wonders for webmasters.
tables all the way?

Sometimes
background music or sounds?

Never. Never. NEVER
frames?

Hard to bookmark and not good for SEOs.

You should ask the visitors that go to your website and not webmasters. :)

nonprof webguy




msg:334059
 12:07 am on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

You might title this thread, "If I had it to do over again, I would..."

In my case, I'm moving towards a simpler design that gives the visitor fewer distractions from the main purpose of the page, yet still places it in its proper context within the site.

In particular, I'd spend less of the screen real estate on navigation. After monitoring how visitors navigate, I've come to the conclusion that most visitors will only follow navigation links to related items, and are more likely to do so when those links are either embedded in the main content or are visually denoted to be related to the main content. I still think it is a good idea to provide "breadcrumb" links that show the visitor how what they are reading fits into the overall site structure, but I don't think it is necessary to make navigation to every part of the site available on each page. Rather, providing only "situational" navigation, which provides the visitor with navigation to other pages that are explicitly related to the content they are viewing, either by subject or by date-time (as, say, with a blog's dated sequence of entries) seems more useful. Do other webmasters see this?

In general, I've found that giving visitors too many choices results in them choosing none. It's analogous to the way one is overwhelmed by a giant menu at a restaurant.

I know for my part I can't stand sites that I surf to that pack too much stuff onto the page, like, say, MSNBC's web site [msnbc.msn.com] (which I find annoyingly, terribly slow to load even on a T1 connection) or the BBC [news.bbc.co.uk]. As a result, I don't go to those sites as often as I believe I would otherwise. There's a lot of good content on those sites, but I tend to avoid them due to the busy design, and when I do go to them, I don't click around to see what else is there.

I'd say my current approach to web design is "simplify, simplify."

zulufox




msg:334060
 5:14 am on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

- sites that center on screen with fixed with

Hate Them...

- sites that adapt to the screen width?

Love them...

- flash sites?

Hate Them...

- content first, then layout?

Layout's ONLY job is to faciliate the display of content

- flashy colors or more dull or pastel?

Pastel all the way...

- what about font sizes and styles?

Simple and Readable

- pure CSS?

I use minimalist tables and everything else css.... best of both worlds..

- tables all the way?

Just use them to build the frame... no formating whatsoever...

- great usability?

Absolutely... I want my site to be useable to the visit who has been to the 100 times and doesnt care about the graphics...

- background music or sounds?

Never...

- frames?

Never...

- ...?

I have been heavily influenced by moveabletype style sites... short simple pastel....

I truely believe in keeping my layout as a simpe frame and that it... No graphical boxes.... minimalist images (normal 1-2)... etc.. etc..

Garfield




msg:334061
 12:26 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I still think it is a good idea to provide "breadcrumb" links that show the visitor how what they are reading fits into the overall site structure, but I don't think it is necessary to make navigation to every part of the site available on each page. Rather, providing only "situational" navigation, which provides the visitor with navigation to other pages that are explicitly related to the content they are viewing, either by subject or by date-time (as, say, with a blog's dated sequence of entries) seems more useful. Do other webmasters see this?

I also think it's a good idea to have related links at featured positions on the page, rather than having a full load of navigational links on every single page. My idea is to have the main menu with all the basic categories/choices on every page, but then offer additional links, that help to find what the visitor is looking for. The most important thing is a good content, and secondly the way the user can access it without clicking through 45 pages.

PCInk




msg:334062
 12:39 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

- sites that center on screen with fixed with
HATE THEM!

- sites that adapt to the screen width?
That's how they should be - if it's too wide or too narrow, I can change my browser size to how I like it.

- flash sites?
Back button alert. (My last computer used to crash whenever flash was on a webpage - reinstalling flash made no difference and if affected every browser I had)

- what about font sizes and styles?
Font sizes are fine as long as they are not defined in px. Anything else and it can be resized.

- great usability?
Always important.

- background music or sounds?
Very useful. If you are a music band and know your visitors will have a high speed connection then this may be ok. But in general, never.

- frames?
Avoid them as much as possible. Though it is sometimes easier to use frames to knock up a quick, temporary site.

DoppyNL




msg:334063
 1:32 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

sites that center on screen with fixed with
sites that adapt to the screen width?
No!

errrmm, so what do you want?

sites that center on screen with fixed with

NO!
sites that adapt to the screen width?

YES! Love them!
flash sites?

NO! I consider that a presentation; not a site.
content first, then layout?

Both are important.
But content makes visitors come back.
flashy colors or more dull or pastel?

a simple layout; the layout mustn't distract from the actual content.
what about font sizes and styles?

font size should be declared in em. Don't tell anyone; I currently use px :-(
size should be a normal size (like here)
font style: easy readable; mostly verdana
pure CSS?

yes! Love them!
Only use tables where absolutely neccesary.
tables all the way?

NO!
great usability?

A must, easy usability makes visitors come back!
background music or sounds?

NEVER, I hit the back-button ASAP when I notice that.
frames?

NO! not bookmarkable, bad for SEO.
Not needed anymore.
...?

other bad things: see the thread here somewhere on "what is so 90's in web design"
good things: a site that is updated regularly.

WibbleWobble




msg:334064
 1:51 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

The fixed width issue is the main one I wrestle with when designing a site, for two reasons:

1. If the site adapts fluidly to a certain portion of the user's browser (70%, 100% etc) then it fill its to a specified size, which is fine on all monitors; while fixed width solutions oft look silly on the larger monitor resolutions.
2. content for reading is best presented in short columns, because it requires the eye to move less. [See all things print] This makes fixed width a better option, because the fluidity of percentage designs rules out the same kind of column control.

As I say, I wrestle with it, based on the likely needs for the site and its userbase.

All of the rest comes under the design umbrella, and so the answer is simple: I [like everyone else] like good design. If thats flash with background music, so be it. If its almost text only in pastels, fine. Whatever compliments the message/content successfully.

[edit:
Ok, two things I do baulk at are splash pages and iframes. Neither is good for usability, the former because by typing your bleeding address, I've already acknowledged I want to view it, the latter because it just overcomplicates things everytime you click something, or want to read extensive content. argh
end]

Sarvesh Nagpal




msg:334065
 2:12 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

The simpler it is the better it is for me. Clean, clear and straight forward website attracts me.

Having said that, I still rate layout as one of very important factors in website development keeping in view that most of us design websites for normal public and not only webmasters.

john_k




msg:334066
 2:30 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

...based on the likely needs for the site and its userbase

This is the heart of it all. There are definitely good designs and bad designs. But you can't analyze this type of thing in a vacuum. It's like asking what features do you like best in a building? Do you like

- a front porch
- flashy neon lights
- tile floors or carpeting
- a flat roof or a sloping roof
- escalators, stairs, or elevators
- etc.

It all depends on whether you are building a house, a night club, an office building, or a tool shed.

HughMungus




msg:334067
 3:26 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

1. KISS

2. I wouldn't use flash for anything but movies. More and more people block flash because of annoying ads. If they're blocking flash, they won't see your pretty menus. No menus, no navigation, no sales, etc.

karmov




msg:334068
 4:12 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I do need to ask, for all of those who are set against the fixed width, how do you deal with articles? I'm not a fan of fixed width sites and agree that it would be ideal if everything was fluid, but I can't do that without having paragraphs that stretch so far that they become nearly impossible to read.

How do you all meet this challenge with your fluid sites?

PCInk




msg:334069
 4:39 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

CSS: max-width and min-width. Eventually IE will support these tags.

coffeguy76




msg:334070
 10:09 am on Apr 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Great analogy! I'll remember that the next time we talk with our online store developer/designer. Communication or just plain talk is a challenge when tecnobuzz words fill the topics.

coffeguy76




msg:334071
 10:12 am on Apr 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

note: My last reply was NOT to this topic. Wonder what happened? Probably MFF (My Fat Fingers) strikes again!

Mark_A




msg:334072
 8:08 pm on Apr 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

also like simple and to the point KISS if you like ..

I like fluid width but not how that looks in wide browsers / screens ..

I think it is possible to make a flexy site display suitably for 800x600 and 1024x768 monitors with the users having the window full or partial screen but there are now quite a lot of users with screens larger than this .. these sites can then look awful.

So many texty pages / sites I do are becoming more fixed width and text size .. usually try to make text sized flexible but to be honest I also like to fix everything on occasion also :-) sometimes seems easier to make displays across various browsers and screens look reasonably alike.

Design / layout to support the message or intention of the site only .. not distract from the message. Always consistent identity across a site.

Hardly ever use frames anymore and would never consider for a whole site perhaps only for a section if most suitable solution.

Navigation simple .. main section links on every page and drill down "where am I" links at page top .. some links at page bottom inc "top" :-),

Always a sitemap somewhere.

imho less is more except where quality of work is concerned however :-0

Oh and I do like the bbc site .. clear consise and easy to find your way round the piles of information that they publish.

vkaryl




msg:334073
 1:08 am on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

frames?

NO! not bookmarkable....

Um. Well.... not entirely true. ANY frame is fully bookmarkable. Simply right-click inside the frame in question.

As to SEO - I may be the only person on the web who doesn't give a rat's ass about it....

satinder




msg:334074
 3:50 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

thx

Wilma




msg:334075
 6:21 am on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I noticed several people turning their thumbs down to fixed-width, fairly narrow pages. Why?

If the fonts are sized in percentages, the default size is 100%, and the page width is set correctly, a page with top and bottom nav looks nice on screen, stays readable at any reasonable window width, and prints nicely on letter or A4 paper.

Is there some problem I've overlooked?

DoppyNL




msg:334076
 6:34 am on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I noticed several people turning their thumbs down to fixed-width, fairly narrow pages. Why?

When a site has a fixed width wich is narrower then my screen I've got 2 big spaces left and right to that column that aren't used. (I've got a big screen).
It's a waste of space; I don't want to scroll when it's not needed; A good site design will result in not seeing any unused space on big screen and only a vertical scrollbar on small screens.

Wilma




msg:334077
 6:15 am on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have designed sites with fluid layouts that will get just as wide as the browser window. I've also designed fixed-width sites to keep line lengths readable (both on-screen and if the visitor prints the page).

My sense is that reading comprehension goes way down when lines of text get too wide. Anybody have stats on that?

knighty




msg:334078
 8:19 am on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I noticed several people turning their thumbs down to fixed-width, fairly narrow pages. Why?

Nothing wrong with this! I have designed both 100% width of the screen and fixed. Sometimes you need to use fixed.

You cannot read 14 paragraphs of text if its all on one line! text should be easy to scan and read.

The idea that the screen has to be crammed full of content from side to side is ridiculous, white space is important to well planned layout.

Maynard




msg:334079
 8:58 am on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I much prefer sites that use fixed-width for content-heavy sites. I find Jacob Neilson's AlertBox articles impossible to read unless I go to the effort of reducing the width of my browser and I have 1024 x 768 resolution. Many people wouldn't bother to reduce the width of their browser depending on the site - too much effort - and may, instead, leave the site.

andy_boyd




msg:334080
 12:12 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've used both 100% and static width. I chose a static width on one of my sites because I have a lot of content to offer, reading it is much easier when it is bordered on either side by white space.

I also find that the white space makes it look more classy ... sometimes less is more.

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