Design Resources: Web Design Guidelines

The more time you spend on the web, the more you appreciate simplicity in web design. After digging through too many web sites with wall-to-wall gif or flash animations, busy, loud backgrounds that make text illegible and overused type faces, styles and font sizes, one starts to appreciate clear, clean and consistent web design. Applying the latter into the web design of a new site will give it a professional, polished look. That said, here are some rules of the road for effective web design.

Use consistency in:

  • The use colors consistently throughout the web site.
  • Location and order of navigation.
  • The number of fonts and use the same fonts, font styles and font sizes throughout the web site.

Apply restrictions to:

  • The width of copy blocks.
  • The height of copy blocks.
  • The size and number of graphics and images.
  • The number of clicks to reach any given page.
  • The number of colors used on the site.
  • The number of fonts and font styles used throughout the site.
  • The number of times an animation loops.
  • The number of screens to scroll through a page.

Always provide:

  • An off switch for audio.
  • A non-Flash version of Flashed sites.
  • Instant visibility of the most important links and information.
  • Meaningful text labels for all links and images.
  • The file size for downloads or large graphics.
  • Sufficient contrast between background and text.
  • Meaningful and well-organized content.
  • Provide intuitive navigation.

Thorough compatibility testing for:

  • Browser compatibility.
  • Platform compatibility.
  • Screen resolution.
  • Usability.
  • Accessibility.


  • Never underline body text, as a reader will think it’s a link.
  • Avoid using bold within the body of the text for the same reason.
  • Underline text – it will be confused with links.
  • Force visitors into using the back button on their browser.
  • Rely on mouse-overs to label links.
  • Place text on top of busy backgrounds.