Some Thoughts on Page Layout

If you surf the web at all these days, you can see everything under the sun...all sorts of flash, blinking text (I wouldn't actually do that to you), pages that push and pull viewers all over the web, pages that SCREAM at their viewers and are hard on the eye. There are also a lot of very well designed pages.

Before you start to design your own site, think about the places on the web that you like to visit, and the pages that receive a lot of visitors. Look at what it is about your favorite web sites that attract you to them and keep you coming back to them. You might find that some of the answer is in the layout. How comfortable to your eye is a page? How easy is it to follow the links to navigate around a site?

Here are a few simple suggestions that might help you in designing your first page or site.


I know that I have a lot of backgrounds with images on them. Most of those are designed for wallpaper or to display special images or just for fun. If you have something important that you want your viewer to read, try to choose a background that is uniform across the screen and doesnít interfere with the reading of the text. Backgrounds with a lot of high-contrast imagery underneath the text are confusing and tiring to the eye.

If you look at some of my tiled backgrounds, you will notice that they have a sort of faded look. I did that on purpose. A faded look doesnít interfere as much with the text and gives you the chance to add color and fun to your page without sacrificing readability.

Another solution is to choose a simple background color, rather than a stylized background. If the color is too intense, though, that also can be tiring to the eye. Try to keep it low-key.


Remember, if you have text on a page, you want your viewer to be able to see it. Nothing will get rid of a potential reader faster than not being able to see what you have written. The color contrast between the background color(s) and the text color should be high enough so that the text is readable.

Also, think about spacing the text out. Closely packed text with no line breaks or spacing can be daunting to a first-time visitor as well as being tiring to the eye.

You can achieve this spacing in a number of ways besides using plain line breaks. There are horizontal rules that are stand-alone tags in html. They look like the line you see below and you can add color and depth to them, though that doesn't show up in some browsers. There are also bullet tags and numbers to draw attention to your points.

There are all sorts of attractive bars, buttons, and small images that can be placed strategically on a page to give the eye a rest...and lead into your next section of text, and many of them are free for your use in building a personal web site.

If you have a lot to say, keep in mind that you donít have to put it all on one page. If a reader is truly interested, he or she will follow a link to finish reading what you have to say. A good technique is to outline your main points on your introductory page and let the viewers decide which links they want to follow.

You might also have noticed that my text doesn't stretch from one side of the screen to the other. Text that stretches so far is hard to follow from line to line. It is easy to shorten the length of your text lines through the use of TABLES. A good table width is around 500 pixels and will fit on most screens. This page is a good example of the use of tables. Because of the border here, I had to move the text over so that it wouldn't overlap the flowers on the left. To do this, I created a table with one row and two columns. The first column is for the border and the second column is for the text. Yes, take my word for it. All this text fits in one row :). You'll see when you get into designing your site.

When you start designing your site, don't expect everything to look perfect all at once. Combine your elements and take a good objective look at them. Walking away from it for a few minutes helps. When you come back, it's like you're looking at someone else's work and you can immediately see things that would look better if they were placed "there" instead of "there".

Don't be afraid to try something new to you. If you find that something just doesn't look right to you, think about how it WOULD look right and start looking for how to do it. There is all sorts of good help to be had in the web community. In the chat communities, there are channels and chat pages that exist just to help with problems you might run into.

And always remember, no mistake that you make in the designing of your web site will cause your computer to explode. At best, you can choose the "undo" option. At worst, you can start all over again with a blank canvas.


Last, but certainly not least (in my book), I want to encourage you to use images, but use them sparingly. One picture is worth a thousand words. Too many pictures will slow the download time of your web site, be a distraction to your viewers, and drive away your traffic. There are some who would call me a howling hypocrite for saying that, because my site consists of mostly images. However, my site IS images. That's what I do. Nevertheless, I try very hard to set my pages up in such a way that the download time is minimized. Who wants to wait forever to see a page?

I look forward to seeing your new pages on the web and I hope you have a lot of fun designing your first site. Come visit me at Lindy's Graphics and sign my guestbook. Leave your new url and I will be sure to return the visit.


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