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Web Design Philosophy

Before developing a web design philosophy, it is important to define the purpose of the web site, because the purpose of the site defines the philosophy. For example a niche site, that is a site targeted to a very specific group, like a club, user group or professional organization, is usually quite different from a commercial site which is targeted at the general public.

In many ways niche sites can be easier to develope because you don't have to please everyone, just your members. When the audience is specific, you can get away with things like requiring everyone to have a specific browser, resolution, or plug-in. The rules change from site to site depending on the target audience, so I am not going to define rules for niche sites here.

Conversely, when developing a commercial site which is designed to reach and please the maximum possible number of potential customers there are many more considerations. Basically you are trying to please everyone. Here every time you require anything of the viewer, you are eliminating customers.

Recently while teaching a web development class, I had a student ask me why I was so concerned about being compatible with other browsers because "everyone uses Internet Explorer...". I quickly pulled up the web statistics from one of my web sites. It indicated that most users were indeed using Internet Explorer (IE), but about 30% were not. A closer look revealed, that among the 70% that were using IE, only about 22% were using the current version. This tells me that if I develop a web site that requires the latest version of IE, I will turn away 78% of my potential audience. Most companies don't want alienate 78% or their potential customers.

When designing web sites it is important to consider the following items:

  • browser compatibility
  • plug-in requirements
  • screen resolution
  • color schemes
  • fonts and font sizes
  • bandwidth requirements

When designing a web site I try to design a site that looks good, loads quickly, is easy to navigate and is compatible with as many browsers as is possible.



Trivia for the day:

Humphrey Bogart was related to Princess Diana. They were 7th cousins.

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