Web design tips (part 2)

Here are five more ways to enhance your website. Part one of this article was published last month.

Choose your images carefully

Just because you can do a Google image search and find pictures doesn’t mean those images are copyright-free and available for you to use. You can source images from photo libraries such as Shutterstock.com or iStockPhoto.com for a small fee (although the latter’s prices have gone up since they were bought by Getty images), find something suitable on PhotoPin.com, or use your own images.

Top tip: Teams of lawyers scour the Internet for code that’s hidden within their images. They will find you and sue you if you use their images without permission.

Choose your colours carefully

Research colour psychology before you settle website colours (See Wikipedia for info). If you’re in financial services, for example, blue is a better colour to use as it means stability, whereas red means danger or debt (at least in the UK). The decisions you make about your brand identity should be consistent across all your marketing, not just online.

These days, a white background is considered more elegant than a coloured one. It’s also easier to read. Whatever colour scheme you use, there should be high contrast between the copy and the background to comply with current web standards.

Note that only certain colours are web-safe. They are defined with a six-digit code e.g. the shade of teal I use is called #0F4A61.

Online colours are made up of RGB (red, green and blue, like your television screen). You can’t use metallics or neons online, as you can with ink. You can’t match Pantone or CMYK colours either. As every monitor is calibrated differently, your site colours will look different to every viewer. There is nothing you can do about this.

Links

The default style for a hyperlink used to be blue and underlined, and purple when the link has been visited. That’s no longer the case, but it’s wise not to underline any text unless it is a link, to avoid confusing people. All your links should be the same format, and any text that’s not a link should not be in link format. People will try clicking it, and will just get annoyed when they find it goes nowhere.

Choose your fonts carefully

These are the only fonts that work consistently across all browsers:

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If you insist on using a particular house font, you can use it as graphic text for headlines (but note it will be a graphic and not readable by search engines). Keep your body copy in a web safe font.

Note that anyone viewing your site can change the font size at will, which may break your carefully constructed layout. You can’t control websites the way you can printed documents. You just have to accept that web layouts are flexible and live with it.

Typography tips for web copy:

– Ranged left, ragged right (NOT justified)
– Minimal italic
Bold for emphasis
– CAPITAL LETTERS = shouting!!!

Pull quotes / call-outs

You can use a technique inspired by newsprint, and highlight certain short snippets of the text by making the font larger, indented and perhaps a different colour.

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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