Top 10 tips for successful website design

If I had to give anyone some tips on how to go about designing their website, I would say to keep it simple. There is no harm in looking at other websites that you like and enjoy for inspiration, but if it’s your first website, then don’t worry too much about getting it perfect. Your website should evolve in line with your business so don’t go over thinking it or over designing it.

Here are my top ten common sense tips:

1. Keep it consistent. There is nothing worse than having the content and layout jump around the screen to put people off.
2. Make sure any images or pictures you use are of the same dimensions throughout.
3. Don’t use more than 3 styles of fonts and then only sparingly.
4. Never use primary red and blue coloured fonts (it may have worked in the early 1990s but not now)
5. Don’t overload the screen with information. White space is good, gives the eyes a rest and the chance for your content to shine through.
6. Keep all headings, titles and body text consistent (that ‘c’ word again).
7. Stay away from ‘comic sans’ font it’s not nice or funny.
8. Make sure that your navigation is simple and clear for the user to understand.
9. Don’t have a ‘splash’ page on a HTML site, it is just pointless. They were designed for Flash sites back in the early days when people were on dial-up and had wait for the page to load.
10. Keep it consistent (see a theme here?).

I hope the above helps you on your exciting foray into web design. If you are still stuck, then you can contact someone like me and I’ll do it for you for a modest fee + chocolate buttons.

Yurtfest 2010

The Crayons family have just returned from our ‘summer holiday’ trip. I say ‘summer’ loosely as it pretty much rained all week. We stayed at a Yurt site on the edge of Wales with some spectacular scenery and some great sights. In spite of the weather the children loved it.

Lots of lovely memories, these are just some of the highlights.

Picture the scene, we are in the middle if a field in between a valley. Mrs E’s cry of despair when she discovered that the dishwasher might be broken, “But, how are we going to wash our dishes now?!?”

Master Crayons finding the puddles in Raglan Castle more interesting than the ruins itself.

Wasp sting on back of leg, 10pm, the last night on site. Nice. Just don’t ask where little Master E got stung 🙁

Mister C making enough cooked breakfast to feed an army.

The children enjoying their tour of Welsh castle gift shops and tacky gifts.

The Tintern Abbey ruined grounds made a great venue for an impromptu game of hide and seek.

NC proving that you can survive on a basic diet of Waitrose New York cheesecake all week.

AC getting so ‘tipsy’ that she managed to lose a contact lens when getting into bed.

Easter bonnet 2010

Playgroup are holding an Easter bonnet parade this week. I have a big note attached to the fridge to remind me of this very important event.

Yesterday while Master Crayons was napping, Miss Crayons and I decided to start preparing the bonnet. Out came the glue, ribbons (pink) and bits of sweet wrappers.

We are rather proud of our efforts. I even managed to find a use for the doilies I brought ages ago. See, there is a place for doilies in the world.

Portrait – four year old style

I am in the process of helping organise a Mother’s day fundraiser event for Playgroup.

We have lots of exciting things planned: family photography portraits by Tempest lady, afternoon fashion shows with Reba an independent fashion boutique and Edinburgh Woollen Mill (talk about catering for all tastes!), and an indulgence evening with shopping and gifts and jewellery.

The most exciting part of the day has got to be a children’s colouring in competition in the morning period.

I have designed and printed out some ‘My Mummy’ templates which the kiddies can colour in. We are going to have age categories and prizes for each category.

I asked ‘Miss Crayons’ to do me a dummy draft so that we can hang some “here’s what we did earlier” up on the day. This is her first attempt.

Please note the lollipop and add-on heels. Frankly, it’s like looking into a mirror.

Crowland Community Playgroup

Playgroup recently had a grand opening of their Lottery and Surestart funded outside area.

There is now a covered shaded play space, with planting, seating and a secret garden which the children can now enjoy regardless of the weather.

Local businesses and representatives were invited along with press from the two counties to the opening. There was a great turn out and the very lovely Kev and Abby from HeartFM were on hand to cut the ribbon.

The article from the ET can be found here.

Also featured in the Lincolnshire Free Press on 3 March 2010 – Page 13.

Preparations. Great idea to recreate the new logo on the giant outdoor chalkboard. Wait a minute, is that a typo?

Cmd+Z…

What typo?

Above photography by www.pinkmilkphotography.co.uk.

More pictures of the event also on the HeartFM website

Business card printing

Now that craft fair/show season is kicking off, I have a special limited offer for business card printing. Low cost option and perfect for giving out at shows.

The full specs are as follows:

Quantity: 250
Size: 85×55
Colour: Single-sided, full colour digital print
Paper stock: 350gsm
Finish: Silk
Delivery: Free
Turnaround time: 3 days + 2 days Delivery

Artwork: To be supplied

Total cost: £14.95

Contact me if you want to take advantage of this offer.

Artisan Show Nov 09 Pictures

It was worth the wait, Mrs Pink Milk just uploaded the photos for the show and they are just wonderful. I loved seeing all those lovely things and talented artisans and it makes me want to do it all again!

Some of my favourites:

Christine Pike, working at the wheel and making everyone marvel at her freestyle sculpture.

Birdhouses each with their own satalite dish or analogue aerial, mini birdhouse and stairs. So popular with the visitors that my friend brought one in the morning, then sent her hubby back in the afternoon for another two. They must be setting up an bird centre?

FiddlyFingerWork, fabulous colours and textures.

Hook and Scumble, a personal favourite with ‘Mr.Crayons’.

You can see more photos at Pink Milk Photography.

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Letterpress printing

I have been looking into an old form of printing called letterpress. This is a form of relief printing of text and image using a press with a “type-high bed” printing press and movable type, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain a positive right-reading image. Dating back to the mid 15th century it slowly lost favour in the second half of the 20th century.

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Image from Sunlit Letterpress

There is a slow revival for this form of printing, especially in the US, and specificially for weddings and formal invitations.

I think it is just beautiful, it’s just so classy and a real tactile form of design. There are a few specialists printers still knocking around in the UK, but it is a bit of a dying artform, which is a real shame. I would love to design something for this medium and have been toying with an idea for a calendar – so watch this space!

Supporting handmade

Do you ever start one task and get completely distracted and end up doing something completely different? I never thought I suffered from that malaise until today.

I have decided that I am only going to buy handmade and homemade presents for friends and family from now on (good karma and all that). So this morning I was searching for a suitable gift for a first birthday present. How is it then that I end up in email conversation with a designer about commissioning a handbag for me?!?

I just hope that I am a good ‘client’, although my requirements list did read a bit like a romance novel (to bags). Sigh.

Don’t despair, I have some funky ideas for the baby’s birthday present, so it wasn’t a wasted day and all about me me me.

[Update: I have created a Handmade Pledge group on Facebook, be sure to sign up to it if you have an account.]