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"Web Design Tips"

Advanced Web Design Tips
for Beginners

I want to pass on to you some web design tips based on writing skills that I learned early on. They have stood me in good stead ever since.

When I was a boy in school, I always got top marks for my essays, term papers, and such. One day, when I was still quite young – maybe ten or twelve – a friend asked me how I did so well. I hadn't thought about it before – but I did think about it then – and this is what I told my friend.

"Whatever the subject of the essay you are to write, organize the paper in three sections:

  1. This is an overview of what I am going to tell you,
  2. This is what I said I would tell you, and
  3. This is a brief summary of what I told you."

As web design tips go, this is simple stuff – but it makes for good writing. Then I told my friend that he should always make an outline first.

And he asked, "How do I do that?"  With minor adjustments for application to web design, this is what I explained:

You are given a topic. In the case of web design this would be a keyword that represents a topic that you want to cover in the specific web page (essay) that you are about to write. The first thing to do is to brainstorm the topic. Just make a list of all the things you want to include that are relevant to the theme of the page. As discussed elsewhere in this site, you then augment this list with relevant keywords that you get online.

Having done this, you prune the list, deleting keywords that are superfluous, redundant, too general, too specific, nonsense, or just off topic for your essay. What you are left with should be a list of topics about which you plan to write for the current page under construction. If some of the words don't fit this page, but might fit another page, you put those aside for safe keeping, maybe in a text file saved where you can find it again on your hard drive.

Next, according to "Podolsky's web design tips", you re-arrange your list to show that some of the topics are actually sub-topics of others on the list. For example, say your subject is photography and your intended audience is serious amateur photographers. Part of your initial list might look like this:

Photography techniques
Scenic photography

Portrait photography
Nature photography
Plant life
Event photography
Sports events
Newsworthy events
Equipment choices
Film cameras
Digital cameras
Lenses – fixed or SLR
Natural lighting
Artificial lighting
Image software

On reflection, and perhaps with the help of your word processor's outline capability, you arrange the list this way:

Photography techniques – home page and theme-setter for the site

Scenic photography – major topic 1

            Portrait photography – major topic 2
            Nature photography – major topic 3
                        Plant life
            Event photography – major topic 4
                        Sports events
                        Newsworthy events
            Equipment choices – major topic 5
                        Film cameras
                        Digital cameras
                        Lenses – fixed or SLR
            Lighting – major topic 6
                        Natural lighting
                        Artificial lighting
            Image software – major topic 7

And voilá – you have an outline! Here's another web design tip: In general when you create the hierarchic outline above, you will have more than just three levels. 

But, for a website you only want three levels, because your home page sets the theme of the website. Your level two pages (sometimes called "hub pages") introduce your major topics – and these two levels do your pre-selling, enhancing your credibility by providing useful information without selling anything.

But you want your sales pages to be just one click away from your pre-selling pages, and just two clicks away from your home page – not buried five levels down, where the search engines may not find them.

So in creating your outline for what you are going to write, you want to be sure your outline consists of only three levels: your theme-setting home page, your pre-selling level two pages, and the third level pages that begin the sales process with text links woven into the context leading to pages offering whatever you are selling.

My next web design tip is simply the suggestion that you begin the writing process by writing at least one paragraph on each of your major topics. Having done this, you will see right away that most of your topics require much more than a single paragraph – so expand your outline to include all the paragraphs that you will need in order to do the topic justice.

For a variety of reasons, you will usually want to write at least 500 words on each one – since each topic sets the theme for a whole web page, characterized by a single primary keyword.

In most cases your paragraphs should be short – no more than two or three sentences – to make the page an easier read. So go back and see if you can divide your longer paragraphs into smaller ones at points that make sense logically.

The last of my web design tips is just the reminder that you should finally summarize what you have written in a conclusion that meets the "this is what I told you" criterion that I told my friend those many years ago. This summary can also link to the next page that your reader will benefit by reading. 

Following the plan outlined above, let's summarize what we have covered here:

  • This lesson includes several web design tips that can enhance your creation of your website, make it more "search engine friendly", and better liked by your site's human visitors.
  • Plan each page to include three sections: overview, content, and summary.
  • Brainstorm your content by making a topical list.
  • Enhance your list with keywords found online.
  • Prune your list.
  • Organize your list into three logical levels: home page, pre-selling hub pages, and selling pages.
  • Make a detailed outline down to the paragraph level.
  • Write the text (content) of the page.
  • Include a brief summary at the end, perhaps linking to the next page your visitor will benefit by reading.

If you follow these web design tips, you will always create easily-read, cohesive, well-organized content – liked by both your human and search engine visitors. If you have done these things properly, and have built at least twenty high quality pages, you are ready to put aside these web design tips and begin promoting traffic to your website – and, when you have a certain amount of human traffic to your website, you will be ready to "monetize" your website by building

pages that sell.

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