DMA Central


Making A Great Website: 10 Pro Tips

You’ve got a great idea for a website and a domain name, now it’s time to share your vision with the world. But hold on, before you start building a website you should make sure you have the basics covered. Need a little help in that area?

Meet Sandy Novak a Digital Media Academy instructor and DMA Central contributor who is teaching Advanced Web Design Techniques Courses this summer for DMA. Sandy offers years of experience in building websites and recently collected her 10 Pro Tips For Making A Great Website for DMAC readers. Here are 10 great tips for turning your website into an online destination.

1. Make a Wireframe
Before you start pushing pixels around in Photoshop it’s a good idea to make a wireframe. A wireframe is the skeleton, or basic design of your website. Draw one on a piece of paper or with a simple design program using plain boxes and use placement text to determine where things will be placed on your web page.

This site, created by a former DMA student, uses parchment background and simple design to promote a Civil War Encyclopedia. Also note the navigation tabs at the bottom of the page.

2. Color is Important
The color of your web site sends a strong message.  Want to be bold? Use Red. But before settling on a color combination, search the web and see what works well and what doesn’t. Some colors are more suitable than others. For example, you might use a light blue or green for a site about camping, or use black or silver for a site about cars.

3. Saving Your Images
When saving images as .jpgs in Photoshop always use the “Save for Web & Devices” option. This will create the smallest, cleanest web-ready art for your site.

4. Avoid Legal Issues, Grab Some Stock Photos
Need a few images to decorate your site? Unless you take a picture yourself or have rights to use an photo or image by the owner you should invest a few dollars in high-quality stock photography. These photos can be as low as $5 each and by using them you can avoid violating any copyright laws.

5. Create Some Style
Before you begin building your home page,  Remember the wireframe? Digitally build it now and create a styleguide page in a program like Dreamweaver. Work out all the CSS details of the design using dummy text and images. Save all your styleguides for future web projects.

6. Keep It Simple
Don’t get seduced by complicated design options. Master two or three solid layouts and add excitement to the page with high quality Photoshop work.

7. Use Page Navigation
Place consistent navigation (buttons and cues users can get back to previous pages or to other places on your site) on every page and always include a home page button.

8. Next Gen is In
Flashy effects and chunky beveled buttons are so 1990′s. Clean and simple is in.

9. With or Without Flash
Unless your site really demands it, use Flash sparingly. Why? Flash won’t work on the iPhone and can cause other troublesome technical hurdles, especially for beginners. Instead, build your site in HTML and if you must use Flash, insert smaller SWF files to add motion and interest.

10. Testing! Testing!
Test your site in several browsers, Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer AND on both the Windows and Mac platforms. Your site won’t look the same in every browser, but if the pages hold together nicely and appear readable you can consider yourself successful.

Are you interested in learning more about making a great website? Digital Media Academy offers a four course Web Design and Certification Program.  These courses can be taken one at a time over a several year period, or consecutively in one summer. They’ll not only give you all the skills you need to be a certified web slinger but the inspiration to take on the web.


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