Writing for the Web

Designing: Design Your Pages

After you've considered the overall look and feel of your site, sketch out the designs for the most common types of pages you'll use on your site. Web sites can include the following types of pages:

Your decision about whether to use some or all of these types of pages depends on your purpose and goals as a writer as well as your readers' needs and interests.

One of the best ways to start designing the pages on your Web site is to sketch them out on a piece of paper or in a graphics editing program, such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel PhotoPaint. For example, the following sketch was made before I designed my own home page:

Home Page Sketch

Once you've sketched out the designs for your pages, ask yourself whether they conform to your decisions about the overall look and feel of your site. If they don't, consider redefining your look and feel—or revise your pages to conform to your decisions about how the site should appear to your readers. Ask yourself whether your page designs provide access to the navigation tools you've decided to use, and whether your readers will be able to move easily among your pages using those tools.

Once you've decided that your sketches will provide a good foundation for designing your pages, decide how you'll control the layout of your pages. Depending on the complexity of your pages, you can choose from three general layout control options:

Consider the following example, in which a table defines the layout of my home page:

Home Page Sketch—Tabled

In this case, a table provides a reasonable approach to controlling the layout of text and images on the home page. The majority of sites that provide relatively complex sites, in fact, use tables to control their layouts. However, as CSS becomes more widely supported, it is likely to provide a more effective approach to laying out Web pages. Using CSS, for instance, I could have specified the indents of the internal frame and the navigation footer on my home page with far less code than I used to create a table.

Related Page: Learn more about Web design on the Web Style and Design Guidelines links page.

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