Designing a webpage is not an easy task, it takes time, research and patience to discover what works for you. Since my website launch almost three years ago I’ve gone through four templates. While that may seem frustrating to some I’ve come to embrace it as a learning experience. I love how my site has evolved from a “plain jane” to what it is today, open, structured and sophisticated. This process has taught me to look at the page not through my eyes but through the eyes of the reader. Like I’ve mentioned before, I desire to create a site that feels more like your favorite magazine or your favorite book. A site that feels like a trusted source for that spiritual pick me up. After all this site talks about the greatest love story ever told.
I wish the idea of creating a draft site had come to me before. I can’t count the many times I’ve seen a great design I like that I couldn’t wait to try on my site. When I try to copy the same format it wouldn’t have the same effect with my content. I used Microsoft word to play around with some design options. I was able to see right away if the layout,font and colors I like would work for my site. Here are a few layouts I’ve been playing with. With both layouts I was hoping to create a page that feels open and airy, if that makes any sense. I feel a magazine-look accomplishes that. Keep in mind this is just a draft, I’m still working on picking out the best fonts and the right color to complement the content of my site.
I spent a lot of time visiting other sites for inspiration and what I found is what not to do. Some of the most popular websites bombard you with image and information overload. With all of the images and moving titles it was hard to zero in on one image or article. The lesson learned here is less is more.
While I enjoy the scroll feature I feel as a web designer you have to limit some of the information shown in the fixed portion. If it’s not relevant then let it go. Sites like msnbc.com and gap.com do a great job of keeping what is relevant fixed on the page while giving you the option to scroll through the rest of the content.
My absolute favorite site is the Louvre Museum site. It has a strong, beautiful graphic print as its background that compliments the content very well. When your mouse hovers over the images you feel like your about to step into a room in the museum. It has a slide show featured at the top of the page that displays only four images advertising events and collections in the museum. I’ve visited sites where the slide show featured anywhere from 8-15 pics which to me is too much. For a clean look I think five should be the maximum images shown.
I guess the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far is to not be afraid to try new things. Designing is the one place you can allow yourself to get carried away. If it doesn’t work out, just a few clicks and cuts and your back to your blank canvas to try again.