Features of Good Web Design

Screenshot of style.html in Chrome for Mac, Version 36.0.1985.125

Introduction and Purpose

This site was originally my “Notes on This Site” page, and it has turned into something of a guide to best practices in Web design, which is how I present it now, in the hope that people seeking to learn how to write better Web sites will read this and use what they learn here to make the Web a better place for everyone. I use the first person, and use examples from my own Web site, but what I am doing here, anyone can do to make their Web site more accessible, speedy, stylish, and device-independent.

Accessibility!

Although this site looks nifty when viewed with a Web browser that supports Cascading Style Sheets, it was written to look good and be accessible to all browsers:

  • The pages were written in XHTML.
  • The graphics have alternative text.
  • There are no BGCOLOR or FONT COLOR tags directing your browser to view entire pages with certain text on a certain background, so if you don’t like the background or text colors, you have the power to change that in your browser’s user preferences.
  • You do not need a high-speed connection to enjoy this site! My pages load fast!

Even my style sheets were written with accessibility in mind:

  • Rather than specifying absolute font sizes, I used relative sizes, so that you could still control the text size to best suit your visual abilities.
  • I designed some of my style sheets with a 16-Color Palette, and designed the color schemes with contrast in mind, so they should look great on any monitor, from monochrome, to 16 colors, to 16 million colors.
  • I took into account different monitor and window sizes, and designed the pages to be rescalable.

In addition:

  • I wrote these pages conscientiously, in logical, structural XHTML. For example, I used STRONG and EM rather than B and I, to give viewers the freedom to decide how they want emphasized text to appear, rather than forcing a certain appearance on them.
  • I have made these pages light on graphics and strong on content, since I feel the latter is more important. I hope not only to wow you with appearance, but entertain and inform you with content.
  • Finally, I spell-checked, proof-read, and validated all these pages.

Speed!

This site exploits technologies to produce attractive visual effects without hogging bandwidth or excluding anyone. Speed is very important in Web surfing, and I have written the pages on this Web site to come up instantly for you, while still being fun to look at. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of pages that take forever to download and offer little actual content, and I’m determined not to make you suffer that kind of nonsense.

Some of the Internet resources I’ve used to educate myself about Web design are the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the newsgroup comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html.

Style!

In 1996, when Cascading Style Sheets was a new technology, I decided to be a little bit «avant-garde» and re-write my entire Web site in pure, logical, structural HTML enhanced with style sheets. This way, each page of my site is guaranteed to be properly displayed on any browser, under any operating system, with any size monitor, in any size window, in any size and style font, and with any color text and background. To find out more about style sheets, read my Style Sheets Demo Page.

Other than enhancing a Web page with brilliant color, playing with typography is one of the simplest ways you can add visual interest to a Web page without making it take a long time to download. The style sheets I wrote for the pages of this Web site exploit various text colors and fonts. Using these fonts, I can bring visual excitement and style to you in an instant. Rather than loading my page with graphics that take forever for you to download, I can use the art of typography, and the technology of calling upon resources already in place on your computer.

Device-Independence!

You can view this Web page with any browser, under any operating system, and on any computer with any monitor, at any resolution, window size, and font size. You can stylize it and colorize it as you like, by changing the user preferences in your Web browser, or you may view it in my style with a browser that supports Cascading Style Sheets. Style Sheets are a vital tool to allow Web designers to stylize their Web pages without sacrificing viewers’ rights to unadulterated text.

Daniel Greene first published this page on danielgreene.com as design.html in 1996.

Author: Daniel Greene

I facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people, and I teach people American Sign Language (ASL) and interpreting. Apart from doing the work I love, my greatest joys are family & friends, entertainment, food, photography, and travel.

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