This is “Creating Websites”, section 13.2 from the book Writers' Handbook (v. 1.0).
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.