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Custom Web Site Design Strategies

Web site design has certainly, in the past decade, evolved tremendously. More clients now are demanding custom design, as opposed to the 'cookie cutter' sites of yesteryear.

Where once there existed a limit as to the types of fonts used, the types of coding languages used, and the styles themselves, there is now the possibility for more variety in Web site design than ever before. This has come about because of the advances in technology that did not exist even a few years ago, and it has opened up many creative avenues for Web site designers in the creation of custom designs.

Web development overall, has to be more competitive, and take into consideration the needs of clients now, when literally billions of Web sites compete for attention online on a daily basis. A Web site is the first impression the owner of an E-commerce business makes on their own potential clients, and the competition factor, has now led to the burgeoning of more creative designs and implementations to deal with this competition factor.

Web development now needs to speak to the needs not only of the clients that are building the Web site, but the needs of the visitors who are, overall "potential prospects' of the Web site owners.

E-commerce needs have created some rather unique approaches to Web development, from the most beautiful to the most garish, unfortunately. In an attempt to have their own E-commerce sites 'noticed', some business owners have become too individualistic, and there does abound many sites that are not easily navigable, nor especially pleasing to the eye. A Web designer needs to use good judgment when making choices about how much is 'too much' individuality.

Web site designers can avoid the pitfalls of becoming overly creative, and yet do much now to make a client's site, very appealing and eye-catching by keeping a few simple rules in mind:

A. Are the colors pleasing to most visitors, without being garish and hard to view?

B. Are the fonts easily read by most visitors, which means not too large (too much scrolling), or too small, (too much squinting)?

C. Is the navigation and usability of the site what it can be? Can visitors find features easily?

D. Is the site clean and uncluttered? It should never look like your grandmother's attic, where thirty years of junk abounds in every corner!

At the same time, the E-commerce functionality can be maintained with advanced creativity, as navigability and usability can be implemented flawlessly also. The new advances in technology now have led to the following changes that increase the ability to improve creativity:

1. A staggering number of font sizes that can be flawlessly implemented to distinguish a site. Up until just a few years ago, Web masters were limited in the choice of fonts, and font sizes. Times New Roman and Arial were the two standard fonts used, as some browsers could not effectively display other fonts with any reliability, changing fonts that were not Times New Roman and Arial into the Sans Serif, which is not all that attractive. This was a big deterrent to the creative use of fonts. With new embedding technologies, this is no longer a real problem, and many designers are now using great new fonts that make a site 'stand out' effortlessly.

2. Original layouts can be more easily implemented due to the emergence of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) technology. Prior to CSS, it took much work (and therefore much money) to create designs with 'punch' as every design demanded hours upon hours of work with HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), the old standard for writing and creating custom designs. CSS has freed Web designers from these restrictions, and of course, saves clients a great deal of money spent on man hours, leading more clients to demand great looking custom designs.

3. Navigation and usability have also increased, once the restrictions were lifted from the creation and development of custom sites. Oddly enough, for some reason, many years ago, it was thought 'common knowledge' that all sites should contain a left-hand navigation bar, and nothing else. This was the old standard that designers had used for decades and no one thought to question this practice. This gave rise to sites that were for the most part 'cookie cutter' varieties, each having the same standard layout and left-hand navigation bar layout. Creative use of right-hand navigation bars and other techniques have created sites that are very much different in layout and navigation than the old standards, and this has not proven to be a detriment for most E-commerce businesses. In fact, uniqueness seems to be more memorable, and may indeed be a competitive edge in itself.

4. The emergence of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML technologies has opened up a whole new world of creative fonts, creative color schemes, and creative layouts. With WYSIWYG, designers can see exactly how a site will appear all through the process, eliminating much of the time consuming trial and error that preceded this. Even novice designers and those that seek to create their own site can benefit from WYSIWYG, as most Web site creation software and online sites used for Web site design incorporates this technology, which is easy to use for almost anyone and requires no coding language knowledge.

5. Better flash techniques have also been discovered and employed in the past several years, leading to greater effectiveness of flash sites, and faster upload speeds (a problem with flash prior to the technological advances was slow loading). Sites that employ flash now have a more professional look and feel to them, and flash is used often now in the construction of online videos and games that appear on sites and educates and entertains visitors.

The past decade in technology has indeed lent itself to the emergence of superior creativity in Web site design and Web development by Web masters. Gone are the old days of stagnantly designed sites, the 'same old, same old' fonts, dull colors, and slow-loading and ineffective flash. It seems now, that the sky is the limit with customization of sites, and this can only be called one of the best developments of this century. Beautiful sites, that will hopefully bring beautiful results to personal and E-commerce clients, are now standard, and the future looks brighter than ever for Web site designers and developers!

Copyright 2005 Nathan Sire

Nathan Drew Sire, President of Captain Media, services the web design/development market. He's been developing code since the age of eight. You can read more about his company at http://www.captainmedia.com or contact him at info@captainmedia.com

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