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  1. #1
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    The 5 Golden Rules of Professional Design

    These comments are in regards to the SitePoint.com article 'The 5 Golden Rules of Professional Design'.

    Would anyone care to share what they believe is the MOST important rule in web design?

  2. #2
    Grumpy Mole Man Skunk's Avatar
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    Code to the standards. Don't be short sighted and forget that the web is meant to be a universal communications medium - writing standard compliant code is a lot less difficult than many people make out.

    That's my most important rule, but I'd say that for commercial web design a bettter rule is "know your audience". If your site is receiving a large number of hits from NS4 you need to make sure the site looks OK in that browser (possibly at the expense of standards unfortunately). If your site is getting a lot of Mac traffic it's a good idea to test it in a Mac. If your site is mostly old age pensioners be careful with those font sizes, etc etc etc.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot 19nine78's Avatar
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    Probably "use common sense", which covers most of what skunk said.

    cheers

    alastair

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    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    the most important rule in my book is know your audiance.

    You can abuse them if you want, Tho they may not return, or you can treat them right and build a loyal following.

  5. #5
    Former Staff Member silver trophy Adam P.'s Avatar
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    I disagreed with a lot of the stuff in the section on fonts:
    The default is Times New Roman, which works fine, but many find boring. I've experimented with Arial, Georgia and Verdana, and have found Verdana the most readable of these. This is a personal preference, but fonts should be restricted to the above four to ensure compatibility between all the site's users. If your visitor's browser doesn't support your font choice, their browser will revert to its default.

    As browsers have increased support for CSS, whenever possible, use Style Sheets to define your fonts, rather than HTML's <font> tag. Also, be sure to keep your font sizes large enough to be read by visitors of all ages and visual abilities.
    He said "Times New Roman, which works fine". I wouldn't even give it that. IMO, Times New Roman looks completely awful in browsers. It shouldn't even be the default anymore. I suppose this is just a personal opinion, though.

    I disagree that fonts should be "restricted to the above." Using CSS, you can easily make a list of fonts that the browser will check for. If it doesn't have the first, then it goes to the next, and the next, and so on. On my new Get the Look site, I set H1 to "century gothic, arial, verdana, sans-serif". If the person has century gothic installed, great! If they don't, oh well -- Arial works just fine.

    I also disagree with "be sure to keep your font sizes large enough to be read by visitors of all ages and visual abilities." In a lot of my designs I prefer .7em verdana, which is probably too small for some people, but b/c I'm using em they can resize it with their browser. Also, I don't think you have to cater to the world -- just to your audience, and in my case I doubt that senior citizens are going to be visiting my Get the Look site.
    Last edited by Adam P.; Aug 18, 2002 at 20:07.
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  6. #6
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    Originally posted by swimm5001
    I disagreed with a lot of the stuff in the section on fonts:

    He said "Times New Roman, which works fine". I wouldn't even get it that. IMO, Times New Roman looks completely awful in browsers. It shouldn't even be the default anymore. I suppose this is just a personal opinion, though.
    Yes indeed, that's what I said in the original article. I agree that Times New Roman looks awful, but I wouldn't say that in the article in case readers like the font. In a technical sense, it does work fine.

    [i]
    I also disagree with "be sure to keep your font sizes large enough to be read by visitors of all ages and visual abilities." In a lot of my designs I prefer .7em verdana, which is probably too small for some people, but b/c I'm using em they can resize it with their browser. [/B]
    I see. So, you would rather make your visitor enlarge the fonts if they are too small for them to see clearly? As web designers we are tasked with designing a site that is as close to perfect as possible for all viewers. Using a small font directly refutes that and should be avoided.

    I am 21, and although I do wear glasses, my eyes are not all that bad. If I ever have to squint or read more slowly because the font is too small, I leave the site immediately. It's unacceptable to make the visitor of the site enlarge a small font. Whether you realize it or not, you may be losing visitors.

  7. #7
    Former Staff Member silver trophy Adam P.'s Avatar
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    Originally posted by sdnet
    I see. So, you would rather make your visitor enlarge the fonts if they are too small for them to see clearly? As web designers we are tasked with designing a site that is as close to perfect as possible for all viewers. Using a small font directly refutes that and should be avoided.
    As a web designer, I don't design my site so that it's perfect for all visitors -- but I do design my site so that it's perfect for most of my visitors, my target audience.

    "You can please all of the people some of the time, you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time."

    (I saw Wayne post this and quite liked it.)
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    Cool

    Originally posted by swimm5001


    As a web designer, I don't design my site so that it's perfect for all visitors -- but I do design my site so that it's perfect for most of my visitors, my target audience.
    Adam,

    My original post spoke to designing a site as close to perfect as possible, not perfect for all people. Clearly this is subjective and all user's comments should be taken with a grain of salt. I don't design for 640x480, for example, while others may find it essential to do so.

    I believe it's reasonable to design as close to perfect as you can with the resources you have available. I don't believe designing a site with a small font and making the end user adjust it meets that concept.

    As a fellow web designer, however, I respect your opinion. I have seen your site and can clearly see you have some nice design talent.

  9. #9
    Former Staff Member silver trophy Adam P.'s Avatar
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    Originally posted by sdnet
    I don't believe designing a site with a small font and making the end user adjust it meets that concept.
    All I'm saying is that most of the people I know find .7em verdana to be just fine.
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  10. #10
    + platinum's Avatar
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    I like .7em verdana as well It's blocky enough to be readable by most. I usually use it in bold I must admit though...

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot GregShasta's Avatar
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    Most important rule: Design how you want to design. If all of the 'gurus'(majority of whom have dreadful websites) were actually making money on the web and/or knew the 'secrets' to success would they actually spend time making 'guru' sites?
    Greg
    'I guess that my ambition was to be a bum'--robert mitchum

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    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GregShasta
    If all of the 'gurus'(majority of whom have dreadful websites) were actually making money on the web and/or knew the 'secrets' to success would they actually spend time making 'guru' sites?
    Greg
    yes i think they would.. you have to sell yourself if you want big companies to listen to you, Zeldman, Hielsen and flathead flanders have all done a reasonably good job of this in there respective areas of interest, they have all made money from the web, by selling themselfs and there books,

    Nielsen and Flatheads sites are ugly.. but there fairly usable, and they both work. They have both been a major driving force in making acc/usab more widely knowen off and raising its level of importance.

  13. #13
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    Yes, many so called web design "gurus" do sport some pretty lousy looking web sites. This includes Nielson's site, along with Zeldman's and many others. This might be due to compliancy. Perhaps it's just me, but many sites that shove code compliancy in your face all look the same...dotted table borders and ample white space. It gets old.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Zealot GregShasta's Avatar
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    The Amazon uber alles ethic preached by some nielsen acolytes is tiresome. The reality is that many/most web designers are doing smaller sites and shouldn't really worry if a blind ghanian(dos 3.1, lynx) can access their site. Promotion is the important thing i.e., driving visitors to your site and if the content is pleasing they will stay, if not they won't.

    Greg
    'I guess that my ambition was to be a bum'--robert mitchum

  15. #15
    Former Staff Member silver trophy Adam P.'s Avatar
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    Originally posted by sdnet
    This includes Nielson's site, along with Zeldman's and many others. This might be due to compliancy. Perhaps it's just me, but many sites that shove code compliancy in your face all look the same...dotted table borders and ample white space. It gets old.
    Are you kidding? I look up to Zeldman, not only in terms of compliancy and standards, but also in terms of design. I really love the designs of zeldman.com and alistapart.com -- I think they're great sites.
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  16. #16
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    Originally posted by swimm5001


    Are you kidding? I look up to Zeldman, not only in terms of compliancy and standards, but also in terms of design. I really love the designs of zeldman.com and alistapart.com -- I think they're great sites.
    Well, the designs are certainly not terrible. However, they are incredibly predictable, and I suppose those types of designs just get old after a while. And trust me, it's been a while.

    I used to think they were great designs and filled with creativity. But, now that I look at them a little deeper, I did a 180 degree turn. It's all personal preference, though.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by sdnet
    Perhaps it's just me, but many sites that shove code compliancy in your face all look the same...dotted table borders and ample white space. It gets old.
    Validation doesnt effect the design of your site. Your confusing css/table free layouts with those that validate, any document on the net at present can validate as any one of the 4dtd's available, and it does not take alot of effort.

    Tables dont have to removed from a site for it to validate, The only place where is is recomended to not use tables is in the Web Accessibility Guidlines, and in the code samples on making your site more accessible they provide methods for making table based sites more accessible.

    the second part is that the experimental design comunity, those who push for form over function have as yet pretty much avoided creating compliant code as they are more focused on how it looks, not how it works.

  18. #18
    Proud Mac User templates911's Avatar
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    The most important thing is try to present yourself in a professional manner. This includes Text format, design, wording of your content, page flow, ect.

    Text Format should fit your design and not look out of place or not correctly entered.

    Design should be simple and professional, but dont forget to thow something in there to grap attention. Most people have 56k connections and dont like waiting on Big Bulky designs.

    Wording of content is very important. I have problems with this myself. So I have someone go behind me and suggest other ways to word things.

    Pageflow is another BIGGY! You should have it where all of the main links are at the top of the page and can be fully viewed without scrolling. There should be no broken links, you should always have a way back besides the back button on the browser.

    There is no one thing that is MOST important. You have to have alot of things correctly to have a successful and professional page.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally posted by sdnet
    My original post spoke to designing a site as close to perfect as possible, not perfect for all people.
    Perfect, I believe, is basically what Zeldman does on his sites. Give the users the choice. After all, a simple CSS switcher is so easy to do that it's a bit silly that more sites don't do it.

    I too felt that the article was very simplistic, as many of the design articles on SitePoint tend to be. In fact, many of the articles that arent' series tend to look at such a broad picture that they miss the point entirely.

    I didn't find anything new in the article and found it to be yet another rehashing of "think smart, code smarter".
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
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    Originally posted by Jeremy W.


    Perfect, I believe, is basically what Zeldman does on his sites. Give the users the choice. After all, a simple CSS switcher is so easy to do that it's a bit silly that more sites don't do it.

    Not when it comes to browsers, no, he certainly does not give a choice. I hate Netscape as much as the next person, but I certainly wouldn't call a site, that can't display properly in Netscape, perfect. Not by a long shot.

    This is especially evident with alistapart.com. It's horrible in Netscape.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Which one? Old crappy one that completely forgot the meaning of the word "web" in the web browser title?
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
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  22. #22
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    Netscape 4.7.

    Again, I probably hate the browser even more than you do, but since the browser is so well used, ignoring it when designing a web site, in my opinion, is a mistake.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    As was mentioned to you twice before, it's all about making smart decisions based on your target audience.

    Zeldman's audience is web developers. Developers who would have upgraded to v6 by now, or switched browsers.

    In fact, the usage stats for NS, in any version, are lower than those for Opera, on many sites. Until last week the network of sites I ran pulled in over 15M pv's/month. That's not a mass, but less than 0.01% used NS.

    Either way though, Zeldman made a conscious choice and one I can respect. Either cater only for the browsers that 99% of people use, or write 20 times the code, more hacks, etc, that break your code compliance. He chose the former, and as a designer that really is his choice.
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  24. #24
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    Absolutely. To each his own.

  25. #25
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    I was quite amused by the fact that this:
    Do not italicize your headings. Italics are meant to underscore particular content, but as the text is a heading and of larger size anyway, italics are redundant and often make the text difficult to read.
    appeared under an italicized heading.


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