SiteMaker is a fantastic and simple tool to get your website looking great in no time at all, but even the most functional of websites can benefit from a few design tweeks here or there. Below are a few tips that could make a big difference in the design of your SiteMaker website.
Structure and Layout
Content is key. It can be either words or pictures, but offer something original and update your content often. People are more likely to return if they know your site is active.
Ideally keep top level menu options to less than 8 options (less is more!). Also, to make it easy for visitors to get back to the homepage consider putting an invisible link over your logo that links back to the homepage (look for the Image Map widget in the Functional folder of the File Manager).
Use the Page Master under Design to put the design elements that will appear on every page. Your logo, menu, and loading bar live here. Keep page layouts simple and most importantly consistent across the site. You can bend this rule for the homepage, which tends to be summary of all the other pages.
Fonts and typography
Typography is increasingly important in website design and with SiteMaker it’s easy to make your type look great. If you were building your site in HTML you might have only 5 or 6 safe font styles to use but with SiteMaker there are over 200 to choose from.
Start by choosing a couple of fonts that express the style of your site. For example, is your site slick and modern, dark and grungy or fluffy and girly? Keep it to an absolute maximum of 3, as too many fonts will make your site look messy. Be sure to choose a simple one for the body, something that’s easy to read and works well at smaller sizes. You can vary the colour and size of these fonts to create other styles. Use the Global design settings panel to manage your title and body fonts; it’s a great way to keep the design flexible and consistent.
For body copy consider increasing the line spacing to make your copy easier to read. The default setting is often too cramped and extra line spacing will allow your copy to ‘breathe’ and will look more professional. Also bear in mind that when browsing websites people tend to quickly ‘scan’ the page looking for relevant bits of information. Keep your text shorter than you would in print, in small digestible chunks.
Images and Graphics
Great images and colourful graphics really bring a site to life. Whether you show off your latest products, snaps of your friends and family, or your creative handiwork, images are important for keeping your visitors engaged.
Using static images on the page is perfectly fine but sometimes you want to treat your images in a special way. Using a slideshow to add subtle animation is one way to bring them to life.
It’s often the detail that makes a site look professional and small icons are an easy and useful design element to add to your site. For example, add a Facebook or Twitter icon to your page with a link to your profiles.
Keep your logo simple and modern. It doesn’t have to be fancy, perhaps a small graphic or just your site name in a distinctive font that expresses what your site is about. Place it neatly in the top of your site and in a consistent position on all your pages.
Consider adding an ‘Alt’ tag to each of your images as this can help with your Google rankings. An Alt tag is what a search engines will use to index what an image is about. This can be found on the Style tab when you click on your image.
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