By Chris Harvey, multimedia lecturer,
Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism
Here are a few tips
for novices to consider when building
basic news sites.
Remember that pages and images are measured on the Internet in pixels, which are
roughly equal to a point size on a printed page:
- Build your news home page as concisely as possible to reduce
scrolling. Readers become impatient with too much scrolling.
- Strive for a dominant piece of art (a photo or graphic) and a dominant
headline on the opening screen.
your pages, your layouts and your packages simple - often
with no more than one dominant piece of art and several small
thumbnail photos or graphics on most pages. Simplicity and good design are often
linked. And too many large photos and graphics would slow down the delivery of your page.
- If you'll be using Photoshop or PaintShopPro to size pictures or graphics, work to make
the images as light in weight as possible, without sacrificing
clarity. You can accomplish this by cropping photos tight; changing most
file extensions from .tif or .psd to .jpg or .gif; and decreasing the resolution of
the image to 72 pixels per inch (ppi).
keeping with the simple-is-better theme, donít use more than a few fonts
on your site. Often designers use a headline style thatís sans serif, (such
as Verdana or Helvetica or Arial), and a serif text font, such as Georgia or Times New Roman. This provides good contrast
on a page. Some, however, prefer to use san serif fonts throughout.
- Leave a line of space between paragraphs, to
help readers to quickly scan a page. Flush paragraphs left.
- Use a color scheme thatís consistent throughout your package. Donít use
pastels on one page and glaring primary or neon colors on the next. Colors should unify your site.
(USAToday.com goes so far as to match its Web site section-front colors to its
newspaper section-front colors: Deep blue for News, green for Money, red for
navigation consistent throughout your site or package. Many
professional news sites put main navigation along the top of the page, just below the banner.
using too much text in italics. Itís difficult to read.
- Use black backgrounds with white text sparingly, if at
all. It's difficult
to read and to legibly print.
youíre searching for art for your site, don't reproduce copyrighted photos or graphics without
Most recent work on the Web is copyrighted--even if the page doesn't say so. (U.S. government
documents are a key exception. However, if you want to use a photo from a U.S.
government site, copyright lawyers say it's still good practice to get permission to republish. A freelancer may
retain republication rights to a picture.) Check out clip art sites on the
offer graphics for free or for nominal fees for noncommercial use. Or try
Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, which categorizes and links to public domain photographs (follow the link back to the originating site to verify its authenticity). But be sure to read the rules of use
and give credit as requested. (For answers to frequently asked copyright
questions, check out the U.S. Copyright Office site and new-media publisher Brad Templeton's
"10 Big Myths about copyright
- Avoid animated graphics. They can be
distracting and can sometimes look amateurish, or too similar to paid
- Avoid blinking objects or text. Again, they look
amateurish or like paid advertising.
when designing your page that most people read the Web from top to bottom
and left to right. However, a 2006 eye-tracking study from the
Nielsen Norman Group has shown that
the right side of the screen is given much less attention than the left--and
increasingly so as a reader scans down the page. (More from ZDNet on that study.)
- Remember that most Web readers are impatient. They'll scroll down a page quickly before deciding if they'll stick around to read it. Entice them by breaking up interesting sections on a page with
mini-headlines (or subheads), and by occasionally boldfacing key
words on items such as calendars.
- Use bullets when appropriate to lead readers
through key points.
- Don't design a site that's too big or complicated to
programming languages into your code if your staff won't know how to make
changes to update it.
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Created February 2001. Last updated:
Nov. 6, 2011
Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Chris Harvey. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Feel free to link to this resource page, but do not cut and paste it onto
your own site.