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Home : Knowledge Base : CGI Beginners : Files

Creating Clean Web Sites

An ideal Web site should be attractive, should interact with your vistors, and should be clean. (Clean meaning: easy to read, easy to follow, and most importantly easy to navigate.) Those few things can be the difference between visitors coming back again and again or never coming back at all. CGI Scripts can change a very simple web site to a site that is valuable to it's visitors. A Web site that visitors can interact with by posting onto a discussion forum, give reviews, or try product demos makes sites favorable and benefit the visitor.

How do you create a clean Web site?

That's a good question, and fortunately, there is an easy answer. The answer is themes. Create the same theme throughout your Web site that your visitors will come to know and expect as they familiarize themselves with it. This theme contains fonts, colors, navigation, headers & footers, and the main content area (Or basicly the whole site).

Fonts

Choosing a font may or may not be important, depending on your Web site. Most people ignore this step when developing a Web site, as most browsers give you the option of changing the default text displayed on a Web page. Although browsers give this option as well as the option to override any text on a Web page, many internet users overlook these options and do not change them. Times New Roman is normally the default font set in browsers, as it is most readable by the eye. However, it's not very clean or pretty. Designing a Web site, is just that, designing. When you're designing or developing anything, you want everything to be perfect, no matter how small of detail it is. Designing a Web site is no different.

We use Verdana through out our Web site. Verdana is a very readable and clean looking font, even when it's in bold. Other clean fonts are: Arial, Tahoma and Lucida Sans.

Examples:
SiteInteractive.com - (Verdana)
SiteInteractive.com - (Arial)
SiteInteractive.com - (Tahoma)
SiteInteractive.com - (Lucida Sans)

Colors

Generally, for a clean Web site, you will only want to use a very lite or white background color. This in no way means you can't use color on your Web site. You can use lots of color, as long as you don't go crazy with them and you try to use Web safe colors (view our Color Cube). Doing this should maintain the clean look. When using the <TABLE> tag, try to put the background color in the <TD> tag, as some older browsers don't recognize the background in the <TABLE> tag.

Example: <TABLE><TR><TD BGCOLOR="#0000FF">

Navigation

Every page of your Web site should have some kind of way to get to every other page on your site, or at least the main category pages. ie. Text links, graphical links, or a drop down combo box/URL jump (like our Quick Find feature located on the top left of every page). The number one mistake designers make, is not providing enough links. You don't want your visitors to get lost on your site, that might make your visitors decision whether or not they'll come back again and again. Take our Web site for example, we use these columns on the left and right that contain most of the links you'll need to get anywhere on this site. If you can't find it there, you'll most likely find it in our headers and footers. Sometimes we repeat the important links on one page, to make finding them just that much easier.

Wherever you decide to put your navigation links, remember to think like your visitors. And ask yourself this question:

Where would I expect to see my links if I were visiting my site?

If you're unsure about where to put these links, visit some of your favorite Web sites and see where they put theirs.

Headers & Footers

Headers generally contain your main Web site logo, and main navigational system (unless you're using that on the left side). They may also contain user logins, help sections, shopping cart checkouts, and search boxes.

Footers, on the other hand, mainly contain copyright information, privacy policies, and terms of use. Now that doesn't mean you can't combine the two by putting your main navigational system on your footer as well as your header. (Of course, this doesn't mean you should put your copyright info in your header.)

Main Content Area

This is the most important part of your Web site. This is what everyone is coming to your Web site for. This could be the easiest part of your site to design! Now that you have your navigation system, headers & footers, fonts, and colors in place, all you are missing is the copy (or text). Copy is the body of your Web site. It can contain your text, programs, images, or anything you want.

All the information above is a great help to anyone designing a Web site. The only catch is to not over do it. Don't overload a page with too much information. Doing that, can give you the same outcome as not enough links, you can make your visitors feel lost on your page. If you give them too many links to click, they will not know where to begin.

Lastly, be sure to have someone proofread all your pages for spelling and grammer errors. A set of fresh eyes reading your pages will catch more mistakes than yours will.
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