Jam pack every nook and cranny with something.
The web design term is called “white space” and is the space between different elements on a page. This area does not have to be empty of color or patterns, but what is absent is clutter and content. For experienced web designers (and many different artists), white space is a highly coveted resource that they tend to battle against clients to fill. In fact, a whole design genre, called Minimalism, has emerged in the web design world. Websites like Google and Apple do this SO WELL!
White space allows for easier scanning of a website, getting to the content that the user wants quicker. The focus becomes less on distractions and more on the product (ministry, blog, or your organization) and reduces user frustration. These kind of designs always come out clean, professional looking, and refreshing feel to it.
Design it to your liking.
While you may love the color red and want to start up a church website that has red as its primary color, you need to make sure you know what you are trying to convey in these colors. The thoughts and emotions that correspond with red are anger, aggression, and is clinically proven to raise blood pressure. Even Target.com, whose logo is based on the color, shy’s away from over using it because of how it could be interpreted.
At the same time, structure is important and you should always keep your audience in mind. Bloggers might want to share their top posts to those that first visit your website, but without focusing on new articles, your traffic will get lost. For those that love to make things visually appealing may want to make their website a Flash site, but many people do not have Flash installed on their site and these files are large and take time to download. Be cautious with what you use and always get a client’s opinion of what they see.
Publish it after you see it works on YOUR browser.
Several times I have created a website for someone, been able to get it exactly how they want it to look and then they expect it to go live the next day. The problem with this is that the website on my Firefox 4 browser on my 17 inch MacBook will look differently than my grandma’s 21 inch PC that only runs Internet Explorer 6. (Oh, how I loath IE6!) As web designers, you need to make sure that your site comes up correctly on all major browsers at all major resolutions, and with all the different operating systems.
Feel overwhelmed? No need to fear. BrowserShots.org is a great online resource to do all of this (and more than you probably needed). I use this every time I make a website to make sure it is working on all systems. Of course I will still try it out on different browsers myself, but this is the first line of corrections when I come up with a new design.