Adult Webmastering Basics: Part 8: Design

Domenic R. Merenda
The design of a site is a Webmaster's first opportunity to make an impression, for better or for worse. As with all of the areas we've previously outlined, striking a balance between looks, layout, speed of loading, and ease of use is critical to ensuring your first impression is the right one. In this article, we'll take a look at the options for a "do it yourself" project and address hiring a designer in the next installment.

Design Considerations
When building to stand the test of time, a little planning goes a long way. The old carpenter's adage "measure twice, cut once" applies to site design as well. Before diving into a major design project, make sure you've addressed a few key areas such as:

Color Schemes: Many Webmasters swear by the power of a color scheme change to drastically increase or decrease their conversation ratios. At the very least, selecting a palette before beginning the design will minimize the potential for clashing colors. As a side note, make sure the palette you select is "web safe." These colors can be displayed on any modern graphics card and browser combination.

Fonts: Choosing an attractive font should be given less importance than choosing a legible font. If your users can't see what you're trying to communicate, you're losing sales no matter how nice your text looks.

Stock Photography: If you are planning to incorporate pre-made design elements into your pages, make sure that you secure the proper licenses and files before beginning your project. Not having these items in hand from the beginning can create unnecessary delays or, at worst, cause entire sections of a site to be scrapped in favor of a new design.

The Right Tools For The Job
Do it yourself design projects require specific programs to complete. While this isn't a page design tutorial (and you should be somewhat familiar with web design before beginning a project like this), here's a quick list of tools:

Graphics Programs: Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo Paint, Macromedia Fireworks, Paint Shop Pro

Page Layout Programs: Microsoft FrontPage, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Adobe GoLive, Microsoft Notepad

Graphics Optimizers: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe ImageReady, Ulead Smartsaver

Maintaining And Backing Up Your Work
If you haven't experienced the pain and frustration of a hard drive crash, consider yourself extremely fortunate. Losing not only your personal files but also those of your new adult web sites isn't just frustrating, it's potentially the end of your enterprise. We found out a few articles ago that the ability to update sites to provide fresh and engaging content was going to be a cornerstone of your success. Without the original templates and other files, this can be a long and difficult undertaking.

The process of backing up personal files requires a CD burner and semi-regular dedication to the whole affair. The files of your business, by contrast, require a more frequent and responsible commitment to the process. Likely, these files should be stored in multiple locations, perhaps in fireproof containers. As your site becomes a few sites, and a handful of sites becomes a network, storage technologies will continue to increase capacity. Many gigabytes can now be stored conveniently and backed up frequently.

Bringing In The Pros
If the idea of building your own web site still appeals to you, dive right in. There are plenty of resources (including the human kind at sites like XBiz) at your disposal to help you along.

If, rather than inspiring you, this article has made you more wary of the road ahead, next week's offering will discuss the process of hiring a professional.

Stay Tuned!