Designing the Look of Your Site

All great art depends on having every necessary component in place and nothing — not one thing — that you don’t need there. Great literature doesn’t add extraneous characters or pad its plot lines. Great paintings don’t have extra brush strokes or colors thrown in for no particular reason. When you’re practicing the art of Web design, strive for that kind of purity.

Appealing to your audience

The audience — which is made up of the visitors you hope to attract to your site — determines the content. To set some basic limits, think of these visitors as being at a beginning, an intermediate, or an advanced level, and gauge your content accordingly. If you’re aiming advanced content at a beginning audience or vice versa, you’re looking at failure from the word go.

Not only does your audience determine your content, but its preferences influence your visual-design requirements as well. If your audience consists of high-school students whose interests revolve mainly around the latest musical sensations, you need a far different look than if it consists of retired naval officers who want to know about international events.

For the young music lovers, for example, you need to strike a tone that’s lighthearted and exciting, both in your words and graphics. Brighter colors and a more relaxed and informal tone for the text are the call here. For the old salts, though, you need to take a heavier approach, with darker, duller colors and a middling-formal approach ...

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