Make your own free website on

Sparks Fly
[Home] [PBS VideoDatabase] [Social Studies] [TSU] [UVA]


Learn from Print--More Design Elements to Ponder

The Web

Dynamic place

Key to success

Determining what information to present

How to present it effectively

Some tips from "paper publishing" apply

Complex nature of web causes differences from "paper publishing"

Linear vs. Hypermedia

Books—begin at first page and start reading (linear)

Start at point A and go to point B

Author controls the unveiling of the information

Web—reader follows any link in any order (non-linear)

Linking allows person with mouse to journey in any direction

Reader controls the unveiling of the information

Structuring Your Web Site

Define your goals

You need to summarize what you want to get across before beginning

What is your purpose?

Map your site

Create an outline from the top down (homepage and below)

Homepage is the front door to your web site

How to structure the information?

Chunking—dividing information into small units

Helps readers digest the information

One-at-a-time approach

How to link the information?

How to tie everything together?

Sketch out the structure of the links before you begin.

Depth of content

With linking as an option, can keep pages short and concise

Branching allows other information or discussion to take place without cluttering main topic page


Themes help users navigate the site

Graphics as standard navigation controls

Intuitive images help with navigation (if use image be sure universally understood or label it in text)

Design Tips

All pages should contain





Always link every page to your home page

The Home Page

State your purpose for the site here

Should act as a as Table of Contents for the site

Display your logo here (enlarged)

Provide options for all viewers

text only

frames and non-frame views

if browser, link to download site for browser

Secondary Pages

Establish consistent style

Only one or two topics per page

Consider using wide margins--different browsers display differently (left to right scrolling is NOT well received)

Identify yourself or company with credentials

Capturing Your Audience

Define your audience

Match your structure, tone, and style

Know the characteristics of your target audience and target the elements to them

Structure of presentation



Consistent Look and Feel

Develop a "look" that will carry through all parts of the web site

Design a logo to tie the pages together

Be aware of the artistic elements that make the site look "pleasing to the eye"

Keep it Simple

Don’t overwhelm with text

Rule of thumb

Never cover more than 50% of the screen

Make good use of white space

Reading printed material and screen material requires different skill

People read computer screen at 25% the rate they read printed page

Text Style and Graphics

Vary text style

Create different levels of headings

Include text attributes that emphasize key points

Graphics--one or two

Great way to provide interest

Should be design elements to break up text or provide variety

Keep small--loads faster

Give People a Reason to Return

Don’t be a one-shot site

Entice readers back with:







Update on a regular basis


Everyone will not enter by the front door

Link the site with a common graphic or text element (WordArt)


Get your name and message out

Identify and leave a lasting impression

Feedback or Comments

Web lets you interact

Need to include a way for readers to communicate with you

Feedback link (mailto element) allows readers to respond and react to your site


Web allows visitors to enter in places other that the uppermost level

Provide an easy way to get to the home page on every secondary page

Provide links to important pages within your site (i.e. the site map, page about you, etc.)

Provide consistent notation at the end of every page with essential information about the site

Keeping Up to Date

Nothing is worse that outdated material

Test links systematically and in a timely manner

Dead links definitely date your site

Regular maintenance is a requirement of good web site management

Effective Structure along with a consistent visually appealing style will improve your chances that people will return to your site!

This page was updated on:  04/10/02