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Web Design Principles Checklist
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Primary audience 
  • needs
  • interests
  • technology level of audience
  • computer equipment (special software requirements, available memory, speed/mhz)
Purpose for the site
  • personal
  • profit earning business
  • non-profit organization
  • educational
  • entertainment
Location of the site
  • commercial Internet service provider (ISP)
  • educational institution server
  • organization server
  • personal server
Types of content
  • text 
  • graphics
  • video
  • applets 
  • sound
  • forms or surveys for users to fill out (some servers do not accomodate forms).
Information provided on the "home" page 
  • a "who we are" or "who I am" message
  • a mission or purpose statement
  • contact information *
  • update notice
  • copyright notice
  • disclaimer (for ex: Though we try to keep the information up-to-date, some information may not be the most current.  OR  "This list does not constitute an endorsement of any one or more of the products .")
* If the site is for a business or organization, it is important to include an address, phone number and email contact.
If the site is a personal site, disclosing an address or phone number is not advised because of privacy issues.
Content ( the key to a good site):
  • should match the purpose
  • should be well organized
  • should be spellchecked
  • should observe correct english (or the appropriate language).  Some sites have information in more than one language, depending upon the possible audiences.
  • should be current information
  • should be appropriate for the audience
Level of Web technology to best suit the purpose:
  • Minimal style - mostly text, little or no graphics (quick loading, does not require lots of memory or a high end graphic card)
  • Middle of the road style - some graphics to add an element of design or style, which compliments the information, but does not detract from the main purpose (still easy to load, may be more appealing than minimalism
  • High tech style - Lots of graphics, animation, java applets, "art" text, video clips, etc. (could be suitable for an audience of tekkies with high-end equipment, but could lose the average audience waiting for the images to load or trying to navigate links not clearly identified as such). 
Style to best suit the purpose
  • professional 
  • scholarly
  • casual
  • child friendly
  • teen oriented
  • artistic
Page design - consistency, clarity, user friendliness:
  • Include a "back to home" link 
  • Use a consistent template on each page
  • Create a uniform color scheme (with limited color palate)
  • Be sure there is sufficient contrast between background and text 
  • Avoid a too large font that SHOUTS*
  • Avoid a too small font that is hard to read*
  • Place important information near the top
  • Avoid long lists of links if possible. 
  • Categorize lists in smaller chunks and provide internal tags
  • Provide a  table of contents (with links to find information in a long list)
  • Organize your material to too much scrolling to find content
* The user can override your fonts by setting her/his browser font size and style.


  • Standard for screen resolution is 800 (width) by 600 (height). If you design for a higher resolution the user may have to scroll back and forth or up and down to view your full content.


  • .jpg image format (compressed file format for high quality images - photographs).  While working on photographs, save in .tiff format, or program default, until the final quality and size is achieved, then save in .jpg.  This saves the image quality. 
  • .gif image format (for graphics files, buttons, clip art not photographic quality).  The quality does not degrade when working with .gif files.
  • animated .gif files (Use sparingly.  Is animation appropriate to the theme or a distraction from your main purpose?
  • flash animation (Provide a "turn off" option for flash).  Too many "bells and whistles" can be overpowering.  Does the flash compliment the site? Or is it there to say "See what I can do?"
[Include HEIGHT and WIDTH tags to reduce loading time for graphics.  Don't resize images by just changing the size tags.This increases loading time.]

Background and text colors:

  • Patterned backgrounds produce "noise" that interferes with reading the text.
  • Provide sufficient contrast between background and text
  • Limit your font colors - "Hot" colors (like bright pink and orange) are, in general less professional for business sites. (If the business is "hot" graphics, however, that caution would probably not apply.) Primary colors (red, blue, green) might be best suited for sites that appeal to children. Black backgrounds can give a "hard edge" to a site or make it seem "gloomy" or counterculture.
Use of frames (out of favor):
  • Hard to bookmark
  • Hard to navigate
  • Hard to figure out which frame you are in to print content.
  • Search engines can't always index their contents.
Observe accessibility for the disabled guidelines:
  • Alliance for Technology Access: Web Accessibility
Try out your site on different browsers and different versions of browsers.  Netscape and Internet Explorer, for example, display the same page differently.

What is protected by copyright rules on the WWW


The unique underlying design of a Web page and its contents,  including: 

  • links 
  • original text 
  • graphics 
  • audio 
  • video 
  • html and other unique markup language sequences 
  • List of Web sites compiled by an individual or organization and all other unique elements that make up the original nature of the material. 
When creating a Web page, you CAN
  • Link to other Web sites. [However, some individuals and organizations have specific requirements when you link to their Web material. Check a site carefully to find such restrictions. It is wise to ask permission. You need to cite source, as you are required to do in a research paper, when quoting or paraphrasing material from other sources. How much you quote is limited.] 
Use free graphics on your Web page. If the graphics are not advertised as "free" they should not be copied without permission. 

When creating a Web page, you may be liable if you

  • Put the contents of another person's or organizations web site on your Web page 
  • Copy and paste information together from various Internet sources to create "your own" document. [You CAN quote or paraphrase limited amounts, if you give credit to the original source and the location of the source. This same principle applies to print sources, of course.] 
  • Copy and paste others' lists of resources on your own Web page 
  • Copy and paste logos, icons, and other graphics from other web sites to your web page unless it is clearly advertised as "free" and you follow the original source's guidelines for posting material.
Some organizations are happy to let you use their logos, with permission - it is free advertising.  But they want to know who is using it.  It is best to notify a source to which you want to link. The source might not approve of all sites who want to use their logo. 

Protect your privacy and reputation online:

  • Don't disclose private information about yourself or others.
  • Don't give out home phone numbers or home addresses.
  • What you link to helps define who you are and what your organization represents.
  • Avoid exaggerated claims if promoting a product or organization.
  • Cite sources of information.
  • Observe copyright rules.
  • Use original graphics or free graphics or clipart.
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