Excerpted from Adobe's The Non-Designer's Guerrilla Marketing CD
This article is provided courtesy of Peachpit Press.
Two of the most important factors in good web design are repetition (consistency) and clarity. A visitor should never have to figure out how to use your navigation system, where they are in the site, or whether they are still in your web site or have jumped somewhere else.
Repeat certain visual elements on every page in your web site. This not only lets the visitor know they are still at your site, but also provides unity and continuity, intrinsic features of any good design.
The navigation buttons on your home page are often set up in a way that you can't repeat on other pages, perhaps because the buttons change once you get to sections of the site, or perhaps because the home page has such a different visual arrangement than the content pages. But once you get to content pages, the visitor should find the navigation in the same place, in the same order, with the same graphics. Not only does this make it easy for the visitor to find their way through your site, but it provides a unifying factor to the collection of pages.
One of the most unreadable places to read text is on a monitor, whether it's television, video, or computer. So we need to make a few adjustments to the text on web pages to make sure it's as easy to read as possible. Use shorter line lengths than you might use on paper. The body copy should never run the entire width of the web page, which means you must put the text in a table (or at least use a block indent, which indents the text from both the left and right sides). But don't use such short line lengths that you break up the phrasing of the sentences too much.
If you are specifying the text to appear in a certain typeface (if you're not, ignore this), typically Helvetica or Arial and Times or Times Roman, please specify Geneva in front of Helvetica, and New York in front of Times. This will make the text on Macintoshes appear much so much cleaner and easier to read. (If you use a Mac, set your default font to New York instead of Times, and you will be amazed at how much easier it is to read web pages. Change it back to Times before you print a page.)
For more design tips from Robin Williams, check out The Non-Designer's Web Book (with John Tollett), The Non-Designer's Design Book, The Non-Designer's Type Book, and The Non-Designer's Scan and Print Book (with coauthor Sandee Cohen), all published by Peachpit Press and found at quality bookstores everywhere.