Freelance web design : Part IIn order to master the art of web design, designers must follow the subsequent pointers:1. Web designers are marketers per se. Web sites are all about advertising products, ideas and services.Thus, a web designer has to understand the mindset of marketers in order to create a design that sell.2. Read, read and read. We do not experience everything. Thus, our tendency is to learn from others.Reading web design books, newsletters and tips are pretty valuable since they can save you time andeffort. Basically, books are more conclusive than newsletters and tips however, they are for free andmostly updated.3. Narrow down your target market. You cannot please everybody same thing that you cannot be goodat everything. Thus, this fact calls for the narrowing of your target market. Even in the interface of theso-called web design, a designer cannot claim that he is an expert at anything or everything about theneeds of a website. It is better to pick a certain audience and try to be good at catching their attention,preference and choice. This practice allows you to be best at a given area thus developing expertise.4. Answer your target audience’s needs. In order to answer the visitor’s needs, web designers mustknow what kind of visitors his site is welcoming. Do they belong to the younger generation orotherwise? What do they want from your site? Are these information, details and pleasures in your sitein order to get their undivided attention and loyalty? Bear in mind that colors, font size, style ofgraphics, contents and the entirety of the site affects viewer’s decision and choice.5. Know the basics of SEO and copywriting. Though Search Engine Optimization and copywriting are notdirectly related to designing, still, designers must have basic knowledge about them. This is because webdesigning is intertwined with marketing, use of freelance web designs and visibility.Aside from that, designers must also have knowledge of the programming basics. If not, the tendency iswaste time or to create a mediocre or unsatisfactory design to the detriment of the sites.
6. The primacy of functionality. If ever you are faced to make a decision between a web site’s aestheticform and its functionality, you have to be firm in upholding the latter. Not everything that is pretty is‘saleable’. Besides, you don’t create web sites for the sake of making it nice-looking.Above anything else, the site must be functional so as to cater to every visitor’s wants and needs.Appearance is a means to catch visitor’s attention nevertheless, it is not the end. If a designer prioritizesappearance alone without considering its primary consideration the web site’s marketability will suffer.7. Know when to break the rules. Rules are only guidelines, if you feel that the rules are inappropriatefor a certain creation follow your heart’s desire and venture on an experimental adventure.Hiring a web designer to come up with the custom solution that you need can set you back a fewthousand bucks. But you can do the whole thing yourself and make it drag and drop simple for merepennies with a tool like Breezy Websites. See http://breezywebsites.com for details!Freelance web design : End of Part I8 Things You Must Know To Build A Great WebsiteLast week we talked about how a bad website can do your business more harm than good. That columnbrought several emails asking what is the key to building an effective business website. I replied with thesame answer I always give: building an effective business website is a simple matter of definition.Before the first graphic is drawn or the first line of code is written, you must define the website’sbudget, purpose, target audience, design, navigation, and content. And when that’s all said and doneyou must define the marketing that will bring visitors to your site.It sounds easy, but you’d be amazed at how many really bad business websites there are out there.Yours might even be one of them. If so, listen up. For nearly ten years now my company has beenbuilding and rebuilding websites for every kind of business you can imagine: from mom-and-pops to
multinationals. We’ve designed (or redesigned) a couple hundred websites and along the way I havecome to the conclusion that most business websites do a pitiful job of working for their owners.What’s that, you didn’t know your business website should work for you? You think it should just sit on aserver somewhere taking up digital space and collecting digital dust?Wrong. Every website, business or otherwise, must serve a purpose, and that’s usually where mostwebsites falls short. They serve no purpose because the website owner never gave much thought to it.It’s not the website’s fault. A website is inanimate. It is only what you make it. The only life a website hasis the one given to it by its designer and owner. If the human element doesn’t do a good job of definingthe building blocks, the website will serve no purpose and eventually die a digital death.Building an effective business website isn’t brain surgery, thank goodness, since that’s how I make a nicepercentage of my living. Building an effective, well-designed website that works for its owner, thatactually serves a purpose, is all about definition.Define the BudgetEvery website, no matter how large or small, must have a realistic budget, with “realistic” being the keyword. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat with a potential client as they listed off the eight millioncool things they wanted their website to do, only to find out that their budget was just a few hundreddollars. I always feel like saying, “Well you just wasted three hundred dollars of my time, so here’s yourbill…”Define the PurposeEvery website must have a purpose. Purpose drives everything: the audience, the design, the navigation,the content, and the marketing. I could do an entire column on purpose, but suffice it to say that thereare five categories of purpose under which most websites fall: the purpose to inform, to educate, toentertain, to generate leads, to sell, or a combination thereof. If you fail to define the purpose of thewebsite, all else is just wasted effort.Define the Target Audience
Your target audience refers to that segment of the public that you hope to attract to the site. Forexample if you sell shoes, your target audience would be anyone with feet. Taking it a step further, ifyou only sold women’s shoes, your target audience would be women (with feet) Why is defining yourtarget audience so important? If you have no idea who your audience is, how can you expect to design awebsite that will appeal to them? Your target audience could be customers, investors, job seekers, infoseekers, etc. Define your target audience, then figure out how to serve them.Define the DesignWebsite design theory has changed over the last couple of years, primarily because the search enginesnow ignore graphic heavy websites and give preference to those that take a minimalistic approach todesign. If you look at some of the big boy websites like GE, Oracle, Raytheon, HP, and others you will seethat in many cases the only graphic on the homepage is the company’s logo. Search engines now givehigher preference to websites that offer freelance web design-rich text over flashy graphics. Don’t fightthe design trend. You will lose.Define the NavigationBad navigation is the number one reason website visitors abandon a website. Navigation refers to thechain of links the visitor uses to get around your site. If your site has an illogical navigational hierarchy ortoo few or too many links or is simply impossible to get around, you’ve got problems. We live in amicrowave society. We stand in front of the microwave tapping our foot and glaring at our watchwondering why it takes so damn long for a bag of popcorn to pop. Why can’t a three-minute egg bedone in thirty seconds? If it takes a visitor more than 3 clicks to get to any page on your site, yournavigation needs improvement.Define the ContentContent refers to the information on your website, be it graphics, text, downloadable items, etc. Sincethe top search engines no longer use HTML Meta tag data to index websites, it is vital that your websitecontent be text heavy, succinct and well-written to appeal to the search engine spiders.Define the Build MethodNext, who will build the website for you? Will you do it yourself using one of the point and click websitebuilders or will you hire the kid next door? Will you hire a freelance designer or a professional firm?Budget usually dictates the build method, but be warned, when it comes to website development, youget what you pay for. Sure, the kid next door will throw up a site for you if you buy them a pizza or make
your daughter go to the prom with them, but you will end up a with a website that looks like andperforms like it was designed by the kid next door.Define the MarketingIf you build it, will they come? Not on your life, at least not without a good marketing campaign. Yourwebsite should become a part of all your marketing efforts, online and off.Put the website address on your business cards, brochures, letterhead, and all collaterals. Include theaddress in your ads; print, TV and radio. If you prefer to do online marketing, figure out where yourtarget audience surfs and advertise there.If marketing is foreign to you, do yourself a favor and call in an expert. Many businesses fail becausethey simply do not know how to market their products and services effectively. This is also the downfallof most business websites.Heres to your success!Hiring a web designer to come up with the custom solution that you need can set you back a fewthousand bucks. But you can do the whole thing yourself and make it drag and drop simple for merepennies with a tool like Breezy Websites. See http://breezywebsites.com for details!Freelance web design : End of Part II10 Essential Tips For A Web DesignerOne of the toughest challenges facing any designer is the web page. There are perhaps millions of pagesin the World Wide Web all jostling for attention. The question that is foremost is how you as a designercan make a difference.
Study the subject being featured. Visit as many sites as possible that cover the same as well as relatedtopics. Make a list of what works and what doesn’t. Avoid using a design that is going to be uniform withothers. Unless your pages are distinctive they are not going to work.1. Try and avoid run of the mill things like page counters, java text scrolling, flashing images, GIFimages, signs which say “we are not ready.” Or, too many illustrations or animations, black grounds orfade ins.2. Create a design which coveys in a stylish way what it has to. Instead of using downloadedillustrations use original ones.3. Avoid things like heavy files or graphics. These will slow down your pages. GIF is better thanJPEG files.4. Think of the target audience and subject being addressed when designing. The overall effectshould be that of exclusivity.5. Avoid incorporating download plugins. While Flash is innovative and fun you will loose viewers ifyou don’t provide an HTML alternative.6. Design the pages so that they are not more than 50K.7. Remember the rule of thumb; a web page should not have more than three screens. And,ensure that the viewer does not have to scroll horizontally.8. Test your website pages with several browsers. Make sure they open quickly and completely.Do a reality check by asking a cross section of users to check the site. Usability checking will bring to thefore any mistakes made.
9. Don’t use backgrounds with tiles or patterns it makes the design fussy and decreases readability.Avoid frames they make the pages difficult to book mark.10. Determine accurately the rules of creative design and ensure that you apply them. If you havelinks make sure they work. Limit page content. Pay attention to search engine optimization. Ensure thatthe design follows the content and is not a separate element. Maintain archives. Use innovative fontsand titles. The content should follow basic elements of style or a style sheet.When designing the web page think about the site as a whole not each page separately. There shouldcontinuity in design. Include a site map for easy navigation. Pay attention to imparting knowledge,include information on the subject of the site, give tips, make available how to articles as well aspublications on the topic. The site and pages should be interactive without being a nuisance, so linksmust be well thought of and of practical use.Keep in mind at all times the 5 golden principles of design: balance, rhythm, proportion, dominance, andunity.Hiring a web designer to come up with the custom solution that you need can set you back a fewthousand bucks. But you can do the whole thing yourself and make it drag and drop simple for merepennies with a tool like Breezy Websites. See http://breezywebsites.com for details!Freelance web design : End of Part III