- What the user sees can be of any size, there is not one set size. Treating a web page, or browser window, or the user’s monitor as if there’s a standard size is a limitation transposed from print -- but is not found on the Internet. There is no standard size.
- While your web site may be designed for a specific size, what the user actually sees is determined by the user and not by the design. The dynamics of the design can either resist, or adapt, to the customer’s preferences. But allowing users to view your product as they want is always considered good practice. Whereas, forcing users to review your product as if it were print is at best a waste of resources and at worst an annoyance. The Internet is not print and treating it as such limits its usefulness.
- Users employ of a large assortment of computers, monitors, and connection methods to travel the Internet. Each of these hardware choices have different capabilities, different requirements, and even solicit different expectations by their users. For example, monitors range from the small single low-resolution to the largest multiple-high-resolution monitors; CPU’s range from older computers, to mobile devices, to the newest computers; Internet connections range from the slowest dialup to the fastest connections possible; your web site should adapt to all these differences seamlessly.
- Users also make use of an assortment of browsers to travel the Internet, such as Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, Opera and others. Each browser has different methods to display web pages. Occasionally minor design adjustments should be made to allow for better presentation across all browsers. In other words, focusing on one design and one browser combination while ignoring all other browsers is simply shortsighted. No single browser dominates the Internet and no single design will be identical across all browsers. Get used to it.
- Not only do browsers inherently display web pages differently, but also browsers themselves can have different display preferences and these can exert a large range of influence over web design elements. For example, while your web page may look “best” to you in a specific font, the user may completely over-ride your font by their preferred default font instead. Furthermore, if the user’s browser does not have your specific font demanded by your web page, then the browser will make a font substitution and use something else. Either of these two factors may present your web site in a manner you might not realize, nor approve. Contrary to print, the Internet is not an absolute. However, proper planning can mitigate differences.
- In addition to all the aforementioned, users can also have different physical needs. For example, while some customers have 20/20 vision that will allow them to view your site as expected, or perhaps even smaller than expected, others (i.e., older users) may have vision that requires them to view your web site at larger scales. As such, your web site should accommodate various zoom levels. Proper design should accommodate these changes as well.
- Furthermore, a user’s physical needs may extend beyond design issues, such as the need to review the content of your web site without any visual design considerations at all. For example, blind users are consumers and they use the Internet to make their purchases the same as anyone else. Designing web sites to accommodate assistive technologies should be a part of any serious marketing design. The needs of the disabled should also be considered for they represent a significant market.
- Another aspect to consider is automation such as found in search engine evaluations and automated buying, both of which review the content of your web site without any visual consideration whatsoever. Optimizing for these contingencies should also be considered in the overall design of any web site.
Four Design Considerations Every Client Should Know
The Internet is a unique Medium.
The Internet is a medium unlike any other. The Internet provides new and exciting opportunities in product presentation and ways to attract and cultivate customer’s interest. Tapping the true power of the Internet lies in understanding the difference between the Internet and all other mediums and then using those differences to promote business in new ways.
The Internet is not print.
While a web site can be optimized by expert direction it can also be hindered by imposing unnecessary limitations found in other mediums. The Internet is neither your father’s newspaper nor your mother’s magazine – in short, it’s not print.
The Internet is more than a brochure.
Certainly a web site can be forced to look exactly like a brochure. However, doing so fails to tap the real power of the net – and that power is the ability to both reach a massive audience and inter-react with an individual customer at the same time. The Internet can present your product in ways that are unique from any other medium. It can seek out customers, arouse customer’s interest, capture their attention, and allow them to explore and investigate your product as they want, and ultimately allow them to purchase your product. No other medium provides this exposure, flexibility, and opportunity.
The Internet is user controlled.
The user (your potential customer) not only determines where they go on the Internet, but what they actually see. While your web site reflects your basic design, it is the user who ultimately controls its final presentation. For example:
In short, the proper design of a web site includes many considerations that far exceed those found in other mediums. While proper Internet design requires more attention to detail, it also provides equally more opportunity.
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This technique W3C validates under both HTML 4.01 Strict and CSS guidlines.