View Full Version : How to design a site?

11-18-2002, 01:40 PM
Okay, so i'm pretty familiar with HTML, i'm getting well into CSS, i totally dig the concept of seperating structure from presentation, i short: i'm well able to transform content to code to reach the desired effect.

My biggest problem is: how should i make it look?!! What layout to use, what colors? Why is every design i come up with soooo boring?
Which design approach do you use to create a clean, appealing web site? Color use that works? Pretty, but non-obtrusive graphics? I know i can't be tought to be creative, but does anyone know any tricks or tips to help me along?

11-18-2002, 05:09 PM
when i get stuck, i look around for sites that look good to get ideas, like http://www.coolhomepages.com/.

11-18-2002, 05:20 PM
I can recommend a book: Principles of Web Design by David and Jean Farkas (ISBN 0-205-30291-2) . It covers design and only design, including relationships between files, screen layout, use of color and fonts, project management -- and no discussion of HTML/CSS code (they leave that to reference books).

11-18-2002, 08:24 PM
When you're not a graphics designer/layout person, the best visuals are from pre-made templates. Try searching for 'free web templates'. They've done your work for you.:D

11-19-2002, 12:02 AM
something that i do, is take into consideration what the site is about. then, i make a couple of sketches of the first things that come to mind for whatever the site is about. then, i use my favourite graphics program to start laying it out. the advantage of using a graphics program, is that it's much faster than trying to code it, especially if you're just looking for ideas on how you want it to look.

other than that, the only other advice that i have, is what everyone else has already said. find sites and pictures you think look cool, and try to figure out what makes it cool, and apply it to your site ( just flat - out copying, will likely get you sued for ifringing on a copyright ).

11-19-2002, 02:26 AM
You need content actually on the page to make it look really good in my opinion.

Also I always find it extremely hard to design my own site but when it comes to someone elses eg a client I can do it to suit the client and I like it myself.

Maybe you are the same, I always scrap half of my ideas because they aren' t original enough.

I have spent a whole year designing my business website in my head on paper and of course the pc, now it is quite original and easy to navigate. Sometimes good designs take time.

Sometimes to get a good design I surf cool home pages.

11-19-2002, 11:00 AM
I agree with Mhtml, content is the very important, but to me the most important aspect of site design is navigation. If a user can find things easily, they'll be much more forgiving if the color scheme / layout isn't perfect. (Unless it's really bad, then your out of luck) ;)

11-19-2002, 03:52 PM
i use three things, my head, my sketching pad, and my pc. kind of like filtering possibilities until i've got it right.
first, for the main theme, i kick my brain into gear and start squeezing out all sorts of crazy ideas. when i think i've got a good idea - something that my mind keeps on coming back to - i get out a paper and pencil and sketch it in different versions with all sorts of navigation possibilities. when i notice a worthwhile thing on my paper that I feel happy sticking to, i get on my pc and use a graphics program to draw it. then i just change colors and make modifications and try different fonts and see which combination looks best.
agreed, it's not as simple as that. like Mhtml said, a good design can take time. i have yet to make *the* site design that *works* for me.

11-20-2002, 09:15 AM
The best way to find out an idea that you would think would make your site look really good is through starting the old fashioned way - with a pencil, and a pad of paper. Draw different layouts, which would look neat and clean with the content in it, and see what you like the most.

If you have a tablet, then you could make the task of creating your design much easier.

It is really up to you how you do it, but you could also look, like someone else said, at other websites, and see how they managed to create a particular design. It could be really helpful if you do it properly.


12-01-2002, 01:17 PM

Thanks everyone for replying; i've been out of commission for a while due to a nasty laryngitis, and since i do most of my internetting at work and didn't feel like firing up my PC at home i haven't been online for a couple of weeks.

I'll read all your suggestions thoroughly and get back on the subject shortly.

12-02-2002, 10:14 AM

i use three things, my head, my sketching pad, and my pc.

So do i: i bang my head on the keyboard until i see double, i throw my sketching pad through the room out of frustration, and pretty soon thereafter my PC goes the same way. :D No seriously, you may be on to something there, but i usually try coding it straight away to see if the colors work and stuff like that. Maybe i should revert to more established technologies (like colored pencils) to get the creative juices flowing.

I tried coolhomepages before, but i never seem to be able to find a design that appeals to me straight away... :(
I am kind of a book person, so i'm going to try and find a copy of that book Catman suggested.

On a side note: how much importance do you lay on site appearance? To me, content comes first and navigation as a close second, but i'm involved in creating a site with a buddy of mine who seems to think that having a sassy page header and a sparkling background are the key reasons for surfers to visit the site... :( Oh, well.

12-02-2002, 11:01 AM
Layout is more important than content for me, seeing as many people can be put off from your site if it looks horrific, and poorly designed overall.

It is something that would make you think, well no, content is more important than layout, but you may be wrong in that people generally go for what is clean, tidy, and well represented, then something that is not.

I know I will get a lot of stick for saying it, but it is what I believe. And as more people begin to get broadband, it will be something that will affect us all, and we will eventually move towards those sites that are just that more appealing than others.


12-02-2002, 11:57 AM

i completely agree with you that any information you want to present on a website has to be done so in a clean, tidy and well presented manner, but to place layout over content... i've seen to many sites in this forum that boasted great layouts but had absolutely nothing to report to go that far.

Thank you for replying once more, and if you have examples of clean, tidy, well presented sites that really appeal to you i'd be happy to hear from you.

12-02-2002, 12:03 PM
Hrmm.... I have to think about that one, I am pretty sure that there are decent sites around.

Let me think... I will get back to you in a mo.

The later addon to the post:

By the way, I do also agree that there are sites that do not have enough content, and do need more. But well, I think that one site that is pretty good will be www.pixeljunction.com - I think it looks good and it is a great place with a lot of content - even though it is a mix of a site and a forum all in one... I will get back with you with some more.


12-02-2002, 12:06 PM
Another one:


Looks great, and it works great too, with A LOT of content.


12-02-2002, 02:25 PM

thanks, great sites, both of them. I particularly like the Pixeljunction one, although graphically heavy, because it is lighter in color.
I've been rummaging through a bunch of free templates myself (one of the suggestions in this thread), and i must say there's a definite trend in a lot of sites:

The number of different layouts used is actually quite limited (maybe not surprising, since most humans have a similar way of looking at a page), and almost all use either a solid white, or very light, background and dark text, or a black, or very dark, background and light text (like that highend3d site you suggested);
Another trend is placing different content sections in boxes with a neutral background as described above, and nice graphic border and header, or even simpe ones, against a contrasting page background, sometimes a bit more eleborate, but usually equally simple as the content background.

The intricate, obtrusive, waves-or-clouds-or-red-firetrucks backgrounds of yesteryear are definitely out the door!
Another strong point for me to coax that buddy of mine to ditch his beloved wavy water background.

12-02-2002, 02:44 PM
So I guess we can conclude that layout and content are equally important... ;)

You do need both to have a decent site.


12-02-2002, 03:08 PM
... and don't forget navigation! :thumbsup:

Well, the real acid test: this is a layout i whacked together on a slow friday; nothing works, there's no real content, and the links lead to nowhere; my request is: tell me how it looks, what could be "spiced up", etc.

Test layout (http://members.lycos.nl/ronaldb66/testlayout.htm)

The ad can be reduced and disappears completely after a little while. I changed the texts to english (although they're nonsense), and i added a grid background at the last moment.

Shoot it to threads! :D

12-02-2002, 03:23 PM
It looks good, yes, but the sight of the advert makes me shiver...


12-02-2002, 03:51 PM
lycos banners are completely unreasonable .....
dont forget a document type declaration, always important ;)

12-02-2002, 03:55 PM
I'm always confused by this doc type declaration.

Dreamweaver puts one in on it's pages, but how do I know if I do something to the page which makes the doc type first specified invalid?


12-03-2002, 08:32 AM
Thanks for the input; i will add a doctype declaration, always a good thing.

Any comments on how it looks? Colors, too few, too... well, grey?

12-03-2002, 10:13 AM
Well, obviously it has to be clean. Usually white or pale background colours do the job, but white backgrounds are preferable.

For the menu, try to stick with coded menus, and images, instead of DHTML, which will mean that you have a lot less errors in the long run, and fewer complaints from people who have browsers that can't show DHTML because they are not capable of doing so.

The menu should remain fixed, but you can use DHTML menus if you want to. (They do use them in a lot of sites, like www.highend3d.com).

If you want fixed menus, like www.deviantart.com you should think about layout, and how to position it, and therefore ammend it to be used for other purposes.

Footers are often in a grey colour, usually #66666, but that is up to you.

For links, you can keep them underlined, or you can use hover links, and make them underline on the users mouseover, which can be easily done with simple .css.

That is all that I can think of at the mo.


12-03-2002, 10:19 AM
Originally posted by ionsurge
For links, you can keep them underlined, or you can use hover links, and make them underline on the users mouseover, which can be easily done with simple .css.

(My site does this)