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13.2 Creating Websites

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand how to make a website aesthetically pleasing and well organized.
  2. Understand steps to take to make a website work well.
  3. Understand how to make a website accomplish its purpose.

You may have occasion to create websites for professional, personal, or academic reasons. Whether you create a site to supplement a résumé, to serve as a common, virtual family meeting place, or to showcase individual or collaborative work you’ve done for a class, you should follow some basic guidelines to make sure your website is aesthetically pleasing and well organized, so that it functions well and accomplishes its purpose.

Making a Website Aesthetically Pleasing

Use relevant photos, graphics, and font variations to give your site interest. Leave plenty of white space. A crowded web page is not inviting. Use an easily readable font and font size with ample leading. Small tight text is hard to read and many Internet searchers will skip such a site and move on to the abundance of other choices. Take care when choosing background and font colors. Make sure your background does not engulf the text making it hard to read. As a rule, make your background light and your text dark. Take care when choosing background effects. A very busy background can detract from your content.

Making a Website Well Organized

Plan for little or no scrolling. Instead include clearly marked navigation links to move to different parts of the information. Include navigation links to all parts of the website from all pages so a person never feels stuck on a page. Design an overall look that holds from page to page to give your website consistency. Use an easily recognizable format for navigation links so that they clearly stand out.

Making a Website Work Well

Use images that are between forty and one hundred kilobytes to ensure clear images that are easily and quickly loaded on most people’s computers. Since one hundred kilobytes is the maximum suggested size, you will have your best luck if you stay well below that level. Match your level of use of technology tools to your needs. Don’t add features just to try to make your site impressive. Remember that the more features you add, the more likely it is that someone will have trouble with your site. Some people’s computers will have trouble with very involved opening pages that include audio and video. If you choose such an opening page, also include an override button for people who can’t or don’t want to view the opening page. Make sure all the links and paths are very obvious and that they all work smoothly.

Making a Website Accomplish Its Purpose

Make sure the home page is uncluttered and clearly states the purpose of the website. This is the main chance you have of attracting attention. Make the website as visual as possible. The more quickly a person can glance through web content, the more likely the person is to take in the information. You can make a site visual by including subheadings that stand out, relevant images, short blocks of text, white space between blocks of text, and numbered or bulleted lists. Keep the website up to date. Depending on the content and purpose of the website, keeping it up to date could be a daily, weekly, or monthly chore. Consider that a site that is out of date ceases to be visited. Include a contact link so viewers can reach you. Remember that anyone with Internet can access your site. Take care with the information you post. Always assume that your instructors, employers, parents, or friends will see it.

Key Takeaways

  • You can make website aesthetically pleasing by including relevant images, white space, easily readable fonts, background and font colors that work well together, and a nondistracting background.
  • You can create a website that works well by keeping image sizes small, using only needed features, leading off with a simple opening page (or including an override button on a complicated opening page), and creating navigation links that are obvious and work smoothly.
  • You can create a well-organized website by minimizing scrolling, using clearly marked navigation links, including navigation links on all web pages, and using a consistent appearance throughout.
  • You can make sure your website accomplishes its purpose by starting with an uncluttered home page that clearly presents the website’s purpose, making the site visual, keeping the site up to date, including your contact information, and remembering that the site can be viewed by the public.

Exercises

  1. Choose an existing website and evaluate it based on the standards outlined in this section. Rate its aesthetics, its organization, its functionality, and the extent to which it achieves its intended purpose.
  2. In a Word file, create a mock front page for a website and describe plans for linked pages.
  3. Create an actual website based on your plans in Exercise 2. For the purposes of this exercise, free sites like Weebly, Wix, Google Sites, PBWorks, or Wikispaces will suffice to get you started. In a designer’s memo, discuss the choices you made to enhance the site’s aesthetics, organization, and functionality and the extent to which it achieves its intended purpose.