Okay, the title of this class is “Web Programming,” so why are we starting off with design instead of jumping right into the programming? Simple. Good design principles need to underlie everything we do from the programming side. A web site can be just as Flash-y (pun intended) as possible, can contain programming gadgetry out the wazoo, be impressive as all get-out from a technical standpoint, but be totally worthless because it’s too hard to use.
We could spend the entire semester dissecting good (and bad) web design, but that’s not our primary focus. We want to talk about design just enough to keep from making major mistakes in our programming, as well as keeping our web sites accessible to all users.
- Web Site Design Concepts from Web Helper Magazine
- Access by Design Online, sections on fundamentals, document structure, editorial style, and page layout.
- Intro to Web Design (Part 1): Grasping the Core Concepts
- Web Site Design & Usability Checklist
- Profile of the Most Annoying Site on the Web
- Ten Principles of Effective Web Design
- Applying Divine Proportion to Web Design
- Jeffrey Zeldman’s article on understanding web design.
Note: it’s fine if you don’t “get” all of what he says, but Zeldman is an important voice in the web design field and this article is an essential philosophical summary.
- Web Design Glossary (you don’t have to read all of this, but bookmark it for later when you need to look up unfamiliar terms)
- Web Design Industry Jargon (same thing with this one)
- Go out on the Web and look at some web sites, starting with ones you actually use on a semi-regular basis. Pick ONE site as an example of good web site design, and ONE site as an example of bad web site design. Post a link to each of the sites as a comment on this page (no duplicates allowed!). Do NOT tell us anything about why you chose your sites as your examples. Please get your sites added to the list ASAP, but no later than Sunday night 6/5 at midnight.
- Visit each web site chosen by your classmates. For each one, list TWO reasons why you think that web site was chosen as an example of good/bad design. Write up your answers in a post in the “Evaluations” forum thread. Don’t post your answers until all ten people have put their sites up, because you should have nine good and nine bad sites to visit! Since sites are to be added to the list by midnight Sunday, post this response by midnight Tuesday 6/7.
- Read what each of your fellow students said about your well-designed site and your badly-designed site and summarize their findings. Discuss whether or not you agree with their findings, and any other reasons you had for your choices. Submit your summary as a forum post in the “Findings” thread by midnight Thursday 6/9.If you still want more this week, check out some additional information about web design tools that you may find useful in the coming weeks (yes, there’s some redundancy in these articles — that should give you a clue that a particular tool may be VERY helpful):