Top 10 Tips Every Malaysian Web Designer Starting Out Should Know

There are many factors to be taken into consideration when creating a website design. Web designers often have to play multiple roles and be very knowledgeable about building effective and usable site layouts. Most of the lessons that web designers from Malaysia can be learned in web design usually comes from work experience; learning is an unavoidable process and there is no better way to gain knowledge than to make mistakes as well as learning from them.

In this article, we will be looking into the top 10 essential and general web design tips that every beginning web designer should know.

1. Always Optimize Web Graphics for Better Page Load Times

It is important to learn how to optimize your web graphics by selecting the proper format and ensure that it’s as small as it can possibly be. While people are advancing to broadband connections, there are still quite a few who prefer using dial-up internet connections. Moreover, with the emergence of mobile device technologies that don’t necessarily have broadband-like speeds, having slow page load times due to image file sizes can be unappealing to users.

  1. Here is a common rule of thumbs when it comes to selecting the right file format: images that have solid colors are best saved as PNGs and GIFs, while images with continuous colors (like photographs) are best saved as JPGs.
  2. There are plenty of tools available within your reach that will help you further optimize your images and lower their file sizes.
  3. By limiting the number of images you use to the bare minimum, being smart about using images, and lowering file sizes as best as you can, you will cut down page response times of a web page and improve your web page performance significantly.

2. Keep the Design Clean and Simple

A good web design should not be just visually appealing, but it also has to be user-friendly. A clean and simple web design generally ends up being a high-usability web design that is not confusing for users to interact with.

By having too many site features and components on a page, you would tend to risk the chance of distracting website viewers from the purpose of the website. Make sure each page element has a purpose and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the design really need this?
  2. What does this element do and how does it help the user?
  3. If I remove this element all of a sudden, will most people want it back?
  4. How does this element tie into the goal, message, and purpose of the site?

In addition, although it may be really awesome to come up with a new concept or interface design pattern for your website, make sure that the design is still accessible and intuitive to your users. People are accustomed to common interaction patterns, site features, and web interfaces. However, if your web design is truly one-of-a-kind, you should make sure it’s not too obscure and puzzling. Be creative, but also keep it simple.

3. Navigation is the Most Crucial Thing You Will Design

The most essential site feature is the website’s navigation. Without it, users are stuck on whatever page they happened to land on. With that obvious fact out of the way, we will be talking about some important points to consider when constructing a navigation scheme.

It is very crucial to put sufficient time and a lot of planning on a site’s navigation structure. This may seem like common sense for web designers, but it’s still surprising how many web designs tend to take site navigation for granted.

Placement, style, technology, which you can use JavaScript or just CSS, usability, and web accessibility are just some of the factors you need to consider when creating the navigation design.

Your navigation design should work without CSS due to its text-based browsers. Experiment with text browsers all you want, but they are still prevalent in many mobile devices. Perhaps more importantly, navigation that works with CSS disabled is accessible through screen readers for almost 99.99% of the time.

A website’s Navigation should be accessible and usable without the need for client-side technologies like JavaScript or Flash, which users may not have enabled or installed for various reasons such as security or company policy.

It is crucial that you have a good navigation system in place that is located at a highly-visible location. A good navigation is detectable as soon as the web page loads without having to scroll to the bottom of the web page. This is where keeping it clean and simple plays a major role: a complex and unconventional design can cause confusion to the user. Users must never wonder, even for a moment, “Where is the site navigation?”

For sites organized in a hierarchical, multi-level manner, ensure that it is easy to navigate between parent and child web pages. Moreover, it should be easy to reach top-level pages from any webpage, such as the site’s front page.

The main purpose of your site navigation is to enable users to get to their desired content with as few actions and with as little effort on their behalf as possible.

4. Use Fonts Wisely and Methodically

Though there are thousands of fonts out there, you can really only use a handful (at least until CSS3 is supported fully by most browsers). Make it a point to stick to web-safe fonts. If you are not a fan of using web-safe fonts, you can consider a progressively-enhanced web design that leverages sIFR or Cufon.

Always keep your font usage consistent. Make sure that headings are visually-different from paragraph text. You can use white space, tweak line-height, font-size, and letter-spacing properties to make content pleasant to read and be effortlessly scannable.

Maybe one of the things that web designers often make mistakes during web designing is using the wrong font-sizes. Due to the fact that we want to fit as much text as we can in a web page, we sometimes set font sizes to very small sizes. You should try to keep font sizes at and above 12px if you can, especially for paragraph text. While many people have no difficulty reading small text sizes, it is important to consider the older users and persons with low-vision and other types of vision impairment.

5. Understand Color Accessibility

After covering word fonts, we also need to highlight the importance of using the right colors.

You would need to consider color contrast of background and foreground colors for readability and for users with low-vision. For example, black text on white background has a high-contrast, while orange text on red background will make it painful for your eyes to look at.

Next, you should use colors that are accessible to users with particular forms of color-blindness.

Certain color combinations work well only when the color is used as a foreground color rather than as a background color. For example, dark blue text on a pink background versus but pink text on blue background, same colors but different levels of readability and reading comfort. It is crucial not only to get a good color combination but also to apply it to the right elements on the page.

6. You Need to Know How to Write Code Yourself

With different versions of WYSIWYG editors available on the market, it has become a simple procedure to design a site. However, most of these editors would just insert unnecessarily code junk, this results in your HTML structure poorly designed, which will be harder to maintain and update and cause your file sizes to bloat.

By writing the code on your own, you come out with clean, crisp, and terse code that’s a pleasure to read and maintain, a code that you can be proud to call your own.

Knowing how to use a WYSIWYG or an IDE with a visual preview does not excuse you from learning coding through HTML and CSS. You have to know what’s going on in order to create effective, semantic, and highly-optimized web designs.

7. Do Not Forget About Search Engine Optimization

A good designer should always remember to keep the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind when designing a site. For example, structuring web content so that important text is represented as headings such as the page title and logo. This is where learning how to code properly comes in handy. Knowing correct, semantic, and standards-based HTML/CSS, as you will quickly realize that divs are better than tables for web layouts not only for accurate representation of site content, but also for search engine rankings. You will also know that CSS background text image replacement is a good idea.

8. You Need to Understand that People Can Be Impatient

People would spend only a few seconds before deciding whether they want to read more or navigate away to another site on an average basis. Therefore, you as a web designer have to come up with a way for encouraging users to choose the former option within those precious seconds.

It is important to know that not many visitors will scroll down to view the entire contents of the page if what they see at the top does not interest them. You should keep in mind to keep your important elements on the top where they are easily visible, but also do not overcrowd the top half of the page which can intimidate users and turn them off from reading further down the page. You should also consider the top half of a web design a selling point. Be a salesman, make people buy into the notion that they want to see what else is on your site.

9. Learn About and Be Aware of Browser Quirks

One of the things you must know as a web designer is that your work operates in a fussy and unpredictable environment: web browsers. It is not enough that your designs work on a few web browsers, as they need to work in as many browsing situations as you can possibly afford. Before production, you should test your prototypes using tools such as Browsershots.

10. Make Your Website Designs Flexible and Maintainable

A good web designer would make sure that the site can easily be updated or modified in the future. Designing websites that are easy to maintain is a sign of a great web designer. You should make your work as modular as possible by separating the style from the structure.

You should also know that our industry is dynamic and still young so things can change within a very short amount of time. Keeping this thought in mind will promote the creation of flexible web designs.

Overall, there are a lot of things to be taken into consideration if you are planning to become a website designer. Hopefully you have found these ten web design tips to be helpful for your website designing.