2013 Must-Know Tips to Build Professional Web Designs

Web sites are the first level of any user interaction. A good web design must be able to easily convey the message to its users. The various elements of a website must be in sync to provide a likeable user experience. Small businesses can benefit tremendously with carefully crafted websites.

Take a look at these simple yet effective web design tips for 2013:

Stress on Easy Navigation

Websites must have an easy to use and maintain navigation bar. Placement and design of your navigation bar play a major role in keeping the user interested in your site. Categorize the content in the bar into highly usable and logical pattern. Use precise words and avoid using long phrases by limiting navigation item to twelve characters or less. Do not provide more than seven options in the bar as this may confuse your user and force him to abandon your site. Keep call to action on the left side of your website as people are used to reading from left to right. Before building your navigation bar decide its purpose and content. The best practice is to design a tress structured navigation bar with sub – categories. Tree structure will be more informative and will consume less space.

Consistent Layouts

Use clean layouts with the inclusion of more white space. This will divert your user’s attention to the central idea of the page while looking very professional and elegant. Use fonts that are legible and do not look cluttered when viewed from a different device. The best way to start doing this is to put your ideas on paper first and then gradually start sketching a theme around it. Explore and experiment with as many typographies as possible. Divide your layout into meaningful sections. Use grids to come up with a balanced and objective web layout. The layout grid will guide you through specific screen requirement and help you build responsive websites.

Adhere to All Screen Resolutions

Encourage users to spend quality time on your website. The one principle that web designs must follow is to be adaptable on the smallest screen resolution. Then align all content and graphics as per that resolution. Measure all tables in percentages before changing them to HTML. The trick to designing for all screen resolutions is to stick to percentages and not pixels. Another vital point to keep in mind is to give a fixed measurement for all your cells except the content cell. You may leave the content cell blank if you please. With time more and more web users will move to higher screen resolutions. Thus it is crucial to design to adhere to all screen resolutions.

Make your Website Cross-Browser Compatible

Before launching, make sure your site is compatible with all popular browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Opera. Test your website in at least three browsers like Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox mainly because these are the widely used browsers. Confirm that your HTML code is validated by W3C as it will help you maintain cross-browser functionality. Choose Dreamweaver as it is the best HTML editor for maintaining cross- browser compatibility. Always bear in mind that no website can be made cross-browser compatible. However, these steps can help your website run well in the most common and widely accepted web browsers.

In Conclusion

To build a reliable web experience, carry out regular usability tests. User communication tests are also extremely beneficial especially in the development stage of the website. Build a dynamic website and invest consistent time in its upgrade and maintenance. After all, you want a scalable website that looks good and can perform well under all situations.

Creating a Data-Driven Web Site (Almost) Automatically

If you have a database of some type and need to create ASP.NET web pages to allow users to list, add, edit or delete records from that database, you have a couple of choices. One way is to design and code all the pages yourself (making use of any existing routines you may have). That can be very involved — not only do you have to create the user interface, you also have to figure out the best way to access the database, provide for user authentication, web site security, reporting, data import and export — a whole list of necessary features. In many cases there may be an easier way — an ASP.NET code generator.

There are various code generators available, ranging from simple template types to very sophisticated programs like IronSpeed Designer. Some of these generators offer only minimal help and some are excellent products, but come with a high price tag. I’ve tried several different ones and finally decided on ASP.NET Maker (www.hkvstore.com). It’s reasonably priced at $200 and includes free download of any minor upgrades for 12 months. It works with Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle or any other database that supports ODBC or ADO connectivity, and just by selecting various options on screen you can generate a full set of web pages to list, add, edit, delete, or search for database records. You can also set up a user registration system, advanced security features, file uploading, simple reports and exporting of data to csv, Excel or Word files.

Need some extra functionality? You can do that too. ASP.NET Maker gives you the option to enter your own custom code (in either VB.NET or C#) for various pre-defined server events (such as “Page_Loading” or “Row_Deleting”). Your code can be stored as part of the.aspx web page or you can select to use a separate “code behind” file. You can also enter Javascript to handle client-side processing like custom form validation. All your custom code is saved as part of the project you’re working on and is automatically included each time you make changes to the project and re-generate your web page(s).

I should mention that ASP.NET Maker uses HTML controls, not asp.net web controls. If you want to use custom code for something other than the server events provided for in ASP.NET Maker, you have a couple of options. There is a switch in the master template file that controls ASP.NET Maker which can be set to add “runat server” to each HTML control; that will allow you to catch certain information on postback. If you’re using a code-behind file and are used to working with regular asp.net controls, you can also add your own form statement. Just insert something like before the statement generated by ASP.NET Maker. Then code your asp.net control(s) inside “form1” and end with a . Once you’ve done that you can manipulate your asp.net controls and the information from those controls in the code-behind page. The only problem is that you’ll need to save your pages that have this kind of customized code and copy them back into your project each time after you re-generate your web pages (to over-write the standard pages ASP.NET Maker creates).

The heart of ASP.NET Maker is the set of screens where you enter the information the system uses to create your web pages:

Data Source Setup:

You use this screen to enter information such as your database type, server name, port (if not the default), user id, password, database name and connection string.

ASP.NET Settings:

This screen lets you set the default date format and whether or not you want to use caching. You can also set various options for file uploading, creation of audit trails, and for form validation processing.

HTML Settings:

This screen lets you enter a title for your website, the character set, font and text size you want to use as a default, a site logo (if you have one), and footer text (if any). There are also tabs which allow you to edit the default theme for your site and the default CSS styles (although I’ve always used the default settings and they seem to work pretty well for our users).

Security Settings:

You can enter a hard-coded administrator ID and password on this screen and you can also set up optional User ID and User Level Advanced Security to protect your data from unauthorized access.

Menu Editor:

The menu editor allows you to modify the default menu that ASP.NET Maker generates for your web site. You can add, edit or delete menu items, move them up or down, hide certain items – even add menu options that redirect to non-ASP.NET Maker pages.

Table Setup:

This is the most complex part of your project setup. The upper section of this page is a grid showing the available options for each table in your database. The lower section of the page contains table-specific options and master/detail setup information for whichever table is currently selected. You can select which tables you want to generate web pages for, what caption you want to display for each field in the table, whether of not you want to apply a filter to the records in the table, how you want the records sorted, and a variety of other items such as whether you want to enable inline add, edit and copy, whether you want to use CAPTCHA on the add page to prevent automated posting, and whether you want to allow updating of multiple records at the same time.

Generate Settings:

This is where you specify the location of your source files and the destination folder for the generated asp.net files. You can also select to automatically browse your web pages once they have been created since ASP.NET Maker uses a copy of the freeware Cassini web server to run asp.net pages.

ASP.NET Maker also comes with a fairly comprehensive help file which covers how to create your project step by step. In addition, the help file includes brief tutorials on master/detail files, file uploading, user registration, advanced security options, custom views, and creating simple reports.

I’ve actually used ASP.NET Maker to generate the majority of the code for a human resources package and for a time clock system. It won’t do all the work for you, but if you’re looking for a quick way to develop a data driven web site with minimal hand coding, ASP.NET Maker may be worth looking into. It has limitations, but it does pretty much what it claims to do and it seems very stable — thanks no doubt to the sizable number of people who use it and have beaten most of the bugs out of it.

I’ve covered the main points in this article, but it’s basically just a quick overview of the product. If you’re interested getting a little more in-depth look at ASP.NET Maker, you can download a trial version at http://www.hkvstore.com.

HTML 101 – Tables Or Grids in HTML

Tables are one of the most important and powerful tools for any web page. Only the simplest of web sites can look right without the use of tables. A table is commonly used as a matrix or grid. They are also great for keeping text in line with pictures. Especially if the pictures vary in size, there may be no other way to get your page to look right. Many websites with multiple columns use tables within tables to keep everything lined up and separated neatly.

Tables in HTML seem to baffle people. But if you break them down into their components, they are really quite simple.

A Simple Table:

To tell the browser your are beginning a table, use the Table tag (

). Tables have rows and cells (columns). To start a new row, use the tag To start a new cell, use the tag. To end a cell, use ; to end the row, use ; and to end the table use Here is a simple 3×3 grid in HTML NameSalaryMaritalSteve$200.00SingleMaria$275.00MarriedMaking the table look just right.

Using the example, above, the browser will make the table as small as possible to fit the material in. If you want to spread it out some more, you can adjust the table width by “hard-coding” the desired width in pixels, or by a percentage of available screen width.

will make the table span 80% of the available screen width.

will make the table span 400 Pixels wide.

You will want to be careful when forcing tables to be a certain width, because some people still have smaller screen resolutions and your tables may look awry.

You can make the individual columns (cells) different widths as a percentage of the table width, or fixed pixel width as well:

You can change the text alignment.

Large amounts of text or large images:

If the contents of the cells in your HTML table are of markedly different size, the text in the smaller of the cells will be aligned centered top to bottom. A very common reason for needing to fix the vertical alignment is if you have a caption or description in one column, and a large picture in the column next to it. If this does not look right, you can change the vertical alignment to make it line up at the top of the cell:

Table Borders in HTML

Left to their own devices, most web browsers will put a 1 pixel wide border around the cells by default. You can make a borderless table by specifying or you can make the border thicker by increasing the border. For example,

You can change the border color if you’d like. You can use plain English words for the border color, or the RGB function, but they may not work on all browsers. The safest way is to use the Hexadecimal notation for the actual color. This gives a finer control over the color.

Color Name: will make the border a dark blue color
RGB Function: will make a bright pink border
Hexadecimal: will make the border a lime green color

A good resource for HTML color names and their hexadecimal equivalents can be found at w3schools.com/tags/ref_colornames.asp

Summary:

This is only a basic introduction to HTML tables. You can do much, much more with tables. For example, you can define header rows that will stay in place when scrolling up and down on very long tables.

You can set the background color for the entire table.

You can change the background color of the individual cells, and much more.