Decorating Your Business Website - dummies

By Jan Zimmerman

When people think about business websites, more often than not they think about surface decoration. Decoration encompasses colors, buttons, backgrounds, textures, rules, fonts, graphics, illustrations, photos, sounds, and any other elements that support the overall concept. Often, developers will add small applications called apps or widgets to attract repeat visitors or keep viewers on a site longer.

Incorporating decorative graphics, fonts, and icons

Ask your designer to establish a stylebook specifying colors, fonts, and other elements that should be followed as the site expands. Otherwise the site can lose its visual coherence over time as people move around and memories fade. A stylebook might specify design elements such as these:

  • Icons

  • Typography

  • Photography

  • Windows

  • Sounds

  • File formats

The site for All Star Lanes is an excellent example of using decoration to support a concept. This company, which is a bowling alley with a restaurant and bar, uses 1950s retro imagery to set the tone for its site.

Using gadgets, widgets, and apps

Here an app, there an app, everywhere an app, app. App is simply an abbreviation for application — a single function, pre-packaged bit of code that requires only a single click to activate.

Apps provide information and add functionality without additional programming on your part, and they can be used for many tasks: to calculate interest, convert currency, track stock prices, check the weather, display headlines, play games, or view a calendar.

Generically speaking, apps can run on the Internet, on a computer, or on a smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device, but apps are not interchangeable. Because of the proliferation of incompatible platforms, programmers must write multiple, platform-specific versions for each app.

You can install web widgets (also called gadgets) on your website, blog, or social networking profile to add value and pull repeat visitors. web widgets can be used for such tasks as personalizing an online music playlist, playing a YouTube video on another site, or translating text.

The actual applications run from multiple other servers, not from your web host. Because they must run from a web page, an open browser is required.

When you look at lists of widgets to add to your site, select the web versions, not the desktop versions. A desktop widget is a mini-application that runs from your computer, even though it may access the Internet in the background to acquire information.

Be careful to get widgets from reputable sources. A widget created by a third party may contain malicious code that exploits your pages once it’s installed. Practice safe computing: Don’t install any “inline” gadgets that access user account information.