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Principles of Web Site Design

Developing a web site is a task which involves many steps in order to make it effective. Among them, web site design is one of the most important issues to consider. As an example of its importance several information can be found, on line and printed editions, stating basing principles of what is a good web design. As Ivory and Hearst state: “Poorly designed web sites can lead to lost productivity and revenue”. (2002, p. 56) Nowadays, internet has change the way people interact and websites become, many times, the first contact with the target audiences, consequently the impression which it produces on them is crucial.

Design is the most evident aspect of the site, if people notice a poor design they will not stay for a sufficient time to achieve the site’s goal. Thus, at first glance, web site design reveals its significance; but what makes a web design to be “good”? Defining and understanding the design is a subjective matter, e. g. Google and Yahoo have truly different designs, but it is impossible to affirm which one is better. Hence, the audience aimed and the site’s goals are essentials subjects to consider. Despite this, there are some principles to attend in a manner to approach to a good design.

In this case the subject will be analyzed focusing on graphics and images design. Using Images in Website Design First of all “it’s important to note that the assumption is that the graphical representation directly supports the text to be displayed” (Hall, p. 8) Images must support and complement the site content. Once that images where selected basing on the paragraph above, some basic principles can be establish to make images more useful. Relative to the design of an image gallery’s principles contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity can be mentioned.

The last three are important topics to consider as they help the audience to understand whether they are still on the site or not. Another issue which must be considered is that “the designer should make an attempt to minimize download time as much as possible (Cotrell & Eisenberg, 1997. qt. in Hall p. 9) Images and galleries should be designed cautiously regarding this. If the page takes too long to be ready the audience is temped to abandon the site. Jackson also refers to this principle: “it’s not a good idea to include large graphics or other large files on the home page. ” (Jackson 1999)

Changes in software and technologies development should be considered also. In a really fast paced environment like this, web site designers must take account of changes, at least in two ways: exploiting new developments and permitting the site to be redesigned or actualized regarding this. Jackson also refers to it stating that “Web design guidelines must be adjusted to keep pace with the ongoing changes in web technologies. ”(1999) An example of an image based web site The site to be considered is Karim Rashid’s personal page, available at www. karimrashid. com. In it, all the principles mentioned in the sections above are achieved.

The site is simple, downloads fast and takes advantages of relatively new developments, e. g. Flash designing software. The main feature to be considered is the images’ proximity and repetition, keeping the user in the site, and helping him this way understanding it. The user rapidly creates a site’s “mental map” and can navigate between and inside the galleries easily . Appendix – Example galleries at www. karimrashid. com

References

Hall, Richard H. Instructional Web Site Design Principles: A Literature Review and Synthesis. University of Missouri. Virtual University Journal. 1999.

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