Many people get into Web design and development because they secretly want to be designers. Think about it, when you first found the TextArt in Word, you fell in love. Every one of your documents had to have some fancy coding and pretty text or images, even if it was just the color of the text.
HTML and Web Development gives people who would normally be programmers working with code a chance to be more visually creative, and this is fun.
But there can be a science behind Web design. Your choice of font and the width of your page shouldn't just be based on "what you like". Follow these simple steps to be more scientific in your Web design:
Usability testing can be as elaborate or simple as you need, but no matter whether you have your mom look at your pages or do a complete usability test scenario, you should have someone not familiar with your site look at it. If you can, try to be in the room while they test. Watch what they click on and what they ignore. If they're ignoring your buy button and you've created an ecommerce site this is a serious problem.
Never assume that because it looks fine in your favorite browser, that it will look fine in every other one. This also includes the same browser on another operating system. Check your Web page on every combination of browser and OS that you can get your hands on.
Learn from Desktop Publishing and Established Design Principles
Many new Web designers have never had any formal training in design and end up trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to layout and style rules. Line lengths for readability, colors for emphasis, and margins for look are all basic principles of DTP and can be translated to the Web.
Use your log files
Log files can be very tedious, but the are a valuable tool for designers. Get a good log analysis tool and use it to find out thing like:
- where people go from your front page
- what they click on the most
- what pages are least successful
Don't be afraid to redo
One of the biggest advantages to the Web is how easy it is to make changes. If you create a design and later it doesn't work as well as you'd planned, then change it.
Designing a Web site is a lot of fun, but bringing some structure and science into the design will help you create a page that your customers will find beautiful and usable.