I am not a designer, though I play one on the Web from time to time. I know what I like but can’t always get it to work in my own space. My web sites don’t inspire awards, but they typically don’t send people running and screaming from the room either. In other words, I’m probably a lot like you and a whole lot of other folks who enjoy designing for the Web but aren’t web designers.
In this chapter I’m going to look at web design, but rather than trot out my own admittedly plain efforts, I’ll point out site designs others have created that I think are wonderful and give reasons why I, and others, like the sites. In addition, we’ll take a look at the components of design, such as layout, color, mood, fonts and typography, purpose, as well as some of the design tools and techniques.
In addition to looking good, our sites have a responsibility to be readable and accessible, which also means utilizing valid technologies. These seem like old-fashioned ideas, but no site, no matter how pretty, is going to be successful if the font is too hard to read or if those with visual impairments can’t access the site because of a graphic menu. I once visited a small-town online newspaper that took the front page copy and converted it into a huge JPEG, which was then inserted into a frame. If I could have reached through the Web and slapped them, I would have.
Aside from ensuring that our web sites are accessible, the most important aspect of site design is that ...