How to make a functional website part II of II

Text: formatting, spaces and colouring The internet is perfectly suitable for the presentation of short documents, containing a lot of hyperlinks. In the case of a long text it will not replace a book or a magazine (at least at the moment). However, if there is a need to upload longer material, it should be divided into several parts and the version for printing or downloading should be made available in the form of HTML or RTF files. First of all, the text should be lucid.

By means of short paragraphs, different styles (levels) of headings and numbered lists we can enhance the readability of the text. Important words should be highlighted in bold or in italics, and at the same time underlining should be avoided, as it is reserved for links. The text should be static, even though we can find web pages with short messages in the form of scrolling strip. Unfortunately, a moving text is read more slowly. In such a case, the return to selected information is hampered as well.

You should wait until the remaining information has passed. The way paragraphs are adjusted also has an influence on the pace of reading. It is suggested to align left or to justify, because text formatted in such a way reads much more easily. Text should not be displayed on the whole width of the screen. Very often, it makes the reader omit lines or descend one line down.

Lines containing no more than 10 words are the easiest to read. The text colour should contrast with the background colour. A black text against a white background is the most legible.

The reverse combination is also good, however in case of longer texts it discourages the user and slows down the pace of reading. The use of bright colours is very tiring for the eyes. In fact, although they draw our attention, they discourage after a short time.

The background should be plain, because the graphics make it difficult to distinguish the lines of characters and shapes of words. However, if we decide to use a pattern it should be very subtle. In the case of section titles we have to avoid colours. Colourful text is reserved for references. The user does not read a website line by line, but rather skims through it. That is why, the content of the website should be divided into several parts, each of which should be given a heading.

It is worth making some empty spaces between blocks of text. A document divided into parts is read more easily than a text written without any spaces. The only disadvantages of this solution are the extension of the text and the need for its continuous scrolling. In such cases it is recommended to place a reference which allows to go back up the screen. Appropriate selection of fonts Sometimes, there are discussions concerning the selection of font types on account of the division into sans-serif (e.g.

Verdana) and serif fonts (e.g. Times New Roman). It is commonly known that people prefer reading texts written by means of serif fonts. It results from the fact that serifs make it easier to move your sight form one character to another, which enhances their readability.

This principle, however, applies to paper documents. Low definition makes serif fonts hardly legible on the screen. It is especially of great importance in the case of texts written by means of small fonts. Together with the increasing number of users having high-definition monitors, this principle will play less and less importance. However, for the time being, sans-serif fonts are more preferable. Surely, the font size has an impact on the readability.

Font sized at least 10 points should be used for the basic text. It is important to avoid capital letters in the text. TEXT WRITTEN IN SUCH A WAY IS READ ABOUT 10% MORE SLOWLY. Not more than two font types (for document texts and headings) or three in the case of special texts, e.g. program code, should be used.

Graphics, illustrations and animations Graphics, as well as multimedia, should be placed on websites when they really let the user better understand presented information or they improve aesthetic qualities of the web page. The aims of the graphic project are to inform, to make moving around resources easier, but not to absorb attention. If we use graphics, then instead of many pictures we can use one several times. Not only will it speed up the loading of the page, but it will also ensure visual cohesion of the website. In order to upload an image, we should remember to add ALT attribute, which will enable the user to see what a given image presents before it is displayed. Moreover, browsers for the blind can read ALT files out loud.

Images of products play a vital role in the decision-making process concerning their purchase. Users visiting online shops are more willing to wait for a few seconds longer to see what the product they are interested in looks like. However, the principle of a limited number of pictures and illustrations should be applied on higher-level pages. On the website presenting a product, in addition to the product's description, we should upload its small picture ( read: "light") or a reference to a page presenting its bigger format or additional photographs in the form of a gallery. All types of schemes, diagrams and charts constitute other graphic elements, which facilitate the understanding and assimilation of the page content, and which are preferred by users because of these qualities.

Icons are also quite commonly used. However, we should remember that the way they look cannot always be interpreted identically and it is worth describing them so as not to mislead the recipient. On the other hand, it is not advisable to use graphic menu and buttons. It prolongs the page loading, and what's more - causes additional problems e.g.

when another menu category is added because of website restructuring. Then, the webmaster has to contact the graphic designer who starts looking for source files. The situation may become more complicated when the graphics are designed by a person from the outside, who has not set guidelines for the design of graphic elements. Animations constitute another commonly used form, whose aim is to draw the user's attention. However, they should be used rarely as it is difficult to focus on a text with lots of moving signs. If you can answer affirmatively the question of whether it is possible to express your message without animation, then you should resign from animated graphics.

If it has to be present on the web page, it should not be very complicated. It annoys the user and makes it difficult to focus on the main part of the page. That is why, after several repetitions it should stop. The main page It is a showcase of the website, when a user has to find an answer to the following questions: "What kind of information is presented on the website?", "What content does it offer?" That is why, apart from the prominently-displayed name and logo of the company, it should contain the catalogue of sections, a short summary of the main information, as well as the search module. It also constitutes a good place to inform about promotions, however, they should not occupy too much space. Its main function should be to acquaint the user with its subject-area, to encourage them to enter other web pages, but first of all, to enable further search by means of a simple and intuitive navigation system.

Not only a project It is impossible to discuss all the website functionality principles in one article. That is why it is worth acquainting yourself with other publications elaborating on this subject. Very often, it turns out that the application of all the rules at the same time is not feasible, especially while designing very complicated websites.

In such cases it is necessary to resign from certain principles. Elements not directly related with the web page design, e.g. screen definition, font size set by the user or a browser used, have an impact on functionality as well. The website should be tested before it is published on the Internet.

The completion and implementation of the project do not mean that we can forget about functionality. A good creator should monitor their web pages in this respect all the time. Copyright (c) 2008 Adam Nowak.

This article was translated by mLingua Worldwide Translations, Ltd. mLingua provides professional language translations in all major Western and Asian languages, software localization and web site translation services. Please visit

Computer Software

Why Learn Visual Basic For Application - Because you can use the macro recorder in Excel to record your actions in a macro and then later play them back, it can not always your need.

HOW SCIENCE AND OCCULT SCIENCE WORK - These days we find increasing numbers of scientists turning towards mysticism as a complement to the rational scientific method.

How To Improve Your Photography With A Digital SLR Camera - SLR (Single Lens Reflex) digital cameras have always been associated with professional or, at the very least, the more serious amateur photographers because of their expense.

Progress in Protein Crystallography - Protein crystallography is a very new but very interesting field of science.

Learn Satellite Radio - Would you like to know the mechanisms behind the new clean & clear digital sound of satellite radio? Read on.