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WindyHill Design

about web design

What's a web site all about, anyway?

A web site represents you (personally or professionally) or your business (commercial or nonprofit) on the Internet.

More than an electronic business card or brochure, a web site should convey a message about you or your business that's compelling and attractive.  It should emphasize the following features:

Value:  Your web site should give you a sense of pride in its value to you (if it's personal) or your business (if it's professional or commercial).  We believe that it should also add value to the web.  It should look good, work well, and have good things for the people who use it: Good text, functions, forms and whatever else you're offering to the public with your site.

Architecture:  It's critical to making a web site work.  It's what makes it easy to find things.  It's what makes people feel comfortable when they're browsing:  It should be supportive of that sense of structure, ease and fluidity that visitors prefer.  It's the structure that underlies all good design, a consideration of design on all levels — invisible, yet essential to a good web site.

Writing:  A web site is nothing without good writing — good copywriting, rewriting, revisions and proofing are essential for a web site that's easy to read and use.  And it's the primary element that gives your site value.

Usability and Accessibility:  These are issues that describe how a web site works for its visitors: Smoothly functioning, compatible with major browsers, accessible to most visitors, including visually-impaired or handicapped people — these things are what usability and accessibility mean.

Excitement:  Good content, layout and graphics create visual excitement and pleasure for your visitors.  This means harmony, rhythm, contrast, surprise, and balance, all at once, in the visual and content package that makes up your web site.

What do "design" and "graphics" mean?

On a web site, design and graphics are the artistic elements that add visual excitement and illustration to a web site — type, photos, artwork and animation.  Your web designer will help you to decide the styles and types of design and graphics to be used on your web site. 

Your web designer often usually start the visual design process using your own materials, preparing them for use on your web site.  The designer may also develop or find new materials for you.  Some designers will create new artwork, and some may use materials from stock image companies or created by freelance artists. 

Here are important aspects to consider about using design and graphics materials on a web site:

Color:  Color gives life to a site, creates moods, communicates a site's attitude, and emphasizes a site's message, focus and branding. 

Type:  Though the web is referred to as a multimedia environment, we still do a lot of reading when we're on the Internet.  Text is more important than anything else on a web page.  Your web designer will make sure your site's pages are readable, by using the right type style, size, weight and colors.

Photos:  Photos can be used as snapshots, illustration, a basis for digital art, or examples of a photographer's portfolio.  No matter how your photos are going to be used, your web designer will be able to help you prepare your photos for your web site, to make sure they look great on the screen or printed.  (If you need photographic illustration, but don't have your own photos, your web designer can also help you choose photos from an online stock photo agency.)

Animation:  Animation is: Animated images, Flash, Quicktime movies, and so on.   The most effective animations are compelling and add to your site's message. Good Flash design allows your site's visitors to start or stop the animation whenever they want.  If your web designer does good animation work, he or she will create animations for your site that look great and work well.

Drawings:  There are many styles of drawing that can add visual interest and style to your web pages.  Drawings can be used as illustrations, as the basis for a background texture, or as part of your own portfolio on the web, if you're an artist.  If you plan on having your web designer create drawings for your site, try to find one who has a portfolio showing work in the style you prefer.  If you need to have your own drawings prepared for use on your web site, your web designer will be able to help you with scanning and preparation, to make sure your work looks great on the web.

Art:  As with drawing, there are many styles of art that can enhance your web site.  Art can be used as illustration, as portfolio pieces, or as a basis for rhythmic or textural elements in your site's design. If your plan on asking your web designer to do custom art for your site, check the designer's portfolio to make sure he or she can do work in the style you're thinking about.  Your web designer can help your prepare web-based presentations of your own art, if you're an artist.  If you want to have your own art used as elements of your site's graphics, your web designer will be able to help with that, too.

Design:  Design is how your site is structured (the site's "architecture"), how people can move through it (the site's "navigation"), and the pages' visual design and use of graphical elements throughout the site (the site's "layout").  It's also how it works when you move your mouse over links or images, and whether new pages open up in the current window or in small or large windows of their own (the use of Javascript in the pages' underlying code).  Your web designer will work with you to find out how you want your web site to look and work, and will create your sites' pages using the design you like best.

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