How to Layout Your Web Pages
By Herman Drost *

Searching for the right information on a web page can be a very frustrating experience. Have you ever encountered web pages that are so cluttered with information and graphics, that you leave, totally exasperated?

The same situation applies if you have a web site designed with animated graphics, pop ups, revolving text etc. It may dazzle your visitors, but if it takes more than 10 seconds to load, you will lose them. (see: "How to Calculate and Speed-Up the Download Time of Your Web Site" -

Start With a Simple Plan - to design a good web site you must start with a good plan. Create a list of all the information and graphics you want to include on the site. To see how to sketch out your site, see my previous article: "How to Build A Web Site That Sells" -

Factors That Effect Web Page Layout.

  1. Screen Resolution - Most Internet users these days use a 15-17 inch monitor. Therefore, use a screen resolution of 800x600 pixels when designing your web page. Some still use 13-inch monitors and many have large monitors over 17 inches.

    The way around this is to use percentages when designing your web page. The web page will then resize to the particular resolution the visitor is using. For the designer, this takes more work than using a fixed width for your pages. If you want to design your pages with a fixed length, then it's best to use a resolution of 800x600 pixels.

  2. Contrast - strike a good balance between graphics and text. It is easy to have too much text on your site (unless it is a book or an article). Visitors usually scan web pages so make sure you use short sentences, small paragraphs and it contains small headings

    Too many graphics on your web page may create too much clutter. It also slows the loading time of your site. Only use graphics to emphasize the points you are trying to make. Remember, a graphic can also distract people from the message you are trying to convey.

  3. Color - Have you ever gone to a site where there is a dark background and dark text? You can hardly read it. Try to stick to a light background with dark colored text. For example, a white background with black text is still the easiest to read. Beware of using a dark textured background. The text will become unreadable. The color should not distract your reader from the main points of your site.

  4. White Space - this is the space between the elements on a web page. If there is none or too little white space, your web page will appear disorganized. Try to make the page look clean, simple, easy to read and navigate.

  5. Navigation - the key to good navigation of your site, is for your visitor to find the information quickly and easily. It must be clear and simple. If the presentation and organization of the content is vague, the visitor will get lost, frustrated and move on to another site.

    The home page is usually the web page that contains all the initial navigation to your web site. However, planning your homepage is only a small fraction of your job when designing your navigation. The deeper you can plan your site's structure and navigation, the more successful your site's navigation will be.

With clear, clean, simple and attractive layout of your web pages, information is easily retrievable. Your visitor will have an enjoyable experience and wish to return.

* Herman Drost is a Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW)
  owner and author of
  Site Design and Low Cost Hosting

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