Most companies would prefer their website image to co-ordinate with their other branding – their logo, colour scheme, fonts, headed paper, brochures etc.
Now as a graphic designer you have millions of options with print – almost unlimited variations in fonts, colours and layout options – unfortunately only a tiny fraction of these options are available to web designers – so the web severely restricts your creativity.
Therefore the ideal senario for branding is to look at the restrictions imposed by the web and work from there.
Some web site design restrictions and search engine optimisation considerations when looking at your branding:
Use of Text and Images:
It is fair to say that logos etc often do not use common fonts, therefore they have to be images on web pages. This is often because graphic designers do their thing in isolation and then web designers come along after the brand is built and have to make the best of it. One consequence of this can be a lack of continuity of design on the web page as the main brand font cannot be matched except by using more images.
Until very recently websites were restricted to only using a few fonts readily available on all computers however this has changed as some companies like Google have now made available a library of fonts that can be used on websites at no cost. This now gives web designers far more flexibility but these fonts are not the ones commonly available on people computers so the issue of matching fonts still exists and causes difficulty. Some variation of letter spacing, word spacing and line spacing is possible.
- Words should be words not pictures:
As a general principle of web design – words should be in html text (not graphics) where possible. There are variety of reasons for this including disability accessibility and search engine optimisation. Therefore ideally any words in a logo, slogan or other important branding feature should use the common fonts available on the web so they can be html text rather than an image.
- Alt (Alternative text) tags:
A few descriptive words are normally attached to any images (called alt tags) so you could use images to maintain your brand presentation and put all the words in the alt tag. The search engines will be able to read the alt tag. BUT words in alt tags have the lowest value of importance of
all words on a web page to search engines. So if search engine performance is important it is clearly better to use text and not images for words which matter to give us a better opportunity of maximising search engine performance.
- Hidden text:
I have heard the use of images justified by statements like “you can hide all the words you want on web pages for the search engines” BUT hiding words is the sort of behaviour specifically frowned upon by the search engines and can get you penalised. Think of it this way – search engines
aim to truly represent the content a visitor can see in their searches – so any attempt at deceiving them (such as hiding words so the search engine sees them but visitors do not) is viewed by them accordingly when they spot it. This sort of deception can work, but is risky and therefore not to be recommended.
- The web uses what is referred to as the web safe colour palette:
this is a limited main palette of 256 colours (although variation outside this is usually possible with care) as opposed to the millions available for print. So most colours used by printers are not available to web designers. There are mostly no equivalents to pantone colours on the web so don’t expect to quote pantone colours to web designers – you will need RGB or HEX values.
Poor screens require high contrast between foreground and background colours. This affects the use of colour for text and in practice means you cannot use pale colours on pale backgrounds or dark colours on dark backgrounds.
- Colour matching Images to text and backgrounds:
This is where the web safe palette has the most impact. Colours on images and colours on text and backgrounds must use the web safe palette to match.
Web Page Layout
Options for layout of web pages are basic at best. Print is a static medium – layout is fixed and only has to suit the content of the printed page at that one point in time. Websites are a moving, evolving medium which has to cope with:
- content now, next week, next month and probably next year
- variable screen sizes, from very small (smart phones and tablets) to very large
- variable browsers
- variable web enabled technologies
It is a great shame when web site opportunities are missed because brands are set in isolation without understanding the impact of web design. Web designers often seem to find themselves having to deliver second best to fit in with graphics and branding because decisions are made and expectations set without considering the requirements (limitations) of the web.
It is just so unnecessary.
We aim to be friendly and informative, providing all the support and guidance you need to steer you clearly and effectively through the web design process and ensure that you end up with a great website.
If you need help with your website please feel free to give me a ring. Regards
Michael Spencer, Web Designer and WordPress Specialist.
firstname.lastname@example.org – 01263 722058
Epsilis Website Designers – Covering Mundesley, North Walsham, Cromer and Sheringham in North Norfolk and Bedfordshire