Web Design for Non-Designers

Not everyone needs a web designer to design their website. There are many personal websites that can be built and maintained by individuals who are not trained in web design.

The caveat to that statement is that if your site is for a business or requires an online store, credit card handling and other more sophisticated tools, you would be wise to hire an experienced designer to build it and possibly to maintain it.

For the non-designer creating a website, WordPress offers this good infographic starter along with an article of explanation.

These 8 design dos and don’ts will help you create a site that looks good and is functional.

Use hierarchy to order content sounds so obvious – put the first information that you want people to read first. But that’s not as easy on a webpage as it is on a document. Position, font types, sizes, colors, headings and subheadings affect viewers’ attention.

Limit fonts and colors  Rule of thumb: use a maximum of three colors in your site design. Rule of thumb 2: use fonts in the same family (Arial, Times, Courier)

Consider legibility/readability and (not mentioned in the article) accessibility. A highly decorative font (Curlz MT) can hurt any viewer’s ability to quickly read, and many colors of text (especially on colored backgrounds) can be hard to read or even “invisible” to people with vision problems.

(even if it looks nice with your theme). Be sure to periodically take a step back and consider the legibility of your design.

The article’s “Don’ts” can also be seen as things to do. Don’t forget about images is do use images wisely. Some basic photo-editing skills (cropping, resizing, exposures) are definitely required.

Don’t be afraid to experiment  Every website is “under construction” to some degree. In WordPress.com, you can easily try new themes, change your header, or play with the color scheme. You may want to give the site a fresh look periodically without really changing the content.

I agree that you shouldn’t prioritize aesthetics at the expense of functionality, and that feedback from users or friends or other people working with websites is important. Keep an open mind. No matter how much you like a design feature, if users have a problem with it, change it. 

You don’t need to be a UX expert to know that if people have trouble finding a section of your site, then the navigation needs some revision.

 

Accessibility Concerns

locked inaccessible web

I just finished a one-year project building online courses for a new virtual college program.  During this collaborative course development with faculty, we had requirements to adhere to the Federal Regulation definition for ADA and Section 508. We used the Quality Matters rubric standards which include accessibility requirements. We also followed the principles of Universal Design of Learning (UDL).

I suspect that many academic websites and online courses actually pay closer attention to accessibility than many mainstream websites. It is obvious that the Internet is important in our daily lives, and in many cases, it is even more important to people who are blind, visually impaired or handicapped in other ways. Many people rely on online for their news, sports, weather, financial transactions, travel plans and connections with friends via social media.

At one time, good accessibility design might have required not using some fancy designs or even creating alternative web pages or sites, but that’s not really true now. The design work that makes web pages accessible generally makes the pages a better experience for any user.

People with slower Internet connections, those using devices such as cell phones or tablets that have smaller screens. and even people with mild vision problems (such as from old age) benefit from accessible design.

The www.afb.org website has many resources. But the most used resource available is the website of the Web Access Initiative (WAI), part of the World Wide Web Consortium. There you’ll find guidelines for making web pages along with explanations, techniques. and content guidelines.

You will also find web accessibility information on the AFB website about: