CSE3325: Page Design

In the previous lecture:

In this lecture:

The moment you've all been waiting for... time to design a web page!

Layout of a web page is not that different to layout of printed matter.
(But obviously there are additional aspects to be considered.)


"We seek clarity, order, and trustworthiness in information sources,
whether traditional paper documents or Web pages."

Lynch & Horton, Web Style Guide


Visual Hierarchy

Create a strong and consistent visual hierarchy which leads the viewer's eye around a page.

Tools: layout, typography, illustration

Example: Consider a page of a magazine such as Cleo

What does your eye focus on first? Second? Third? Fourth?

Usually the eye catches elements in this order:

  • large shapes and blocks of colour (images etc.)
  • graphics content
  • major heading content
  • minor heading content
  • sections of body text

This is a visual hierarchy!

(We can study the way the eye moves over a printed page in order to learn about how people process graphical and textual information.)

Importance of Contrast

Contrast is used to assist in achieving these broad goals for layout and composition...


(Left and right, top and bottom, front and back)

(Elements should line up)

(Certain ratios are more pleasing than others)




Square root
Golden Rectangle
Double Square

An example...

Which page design is preferable? Why?

Where does the eye focus?

How is the visual hierarchy established?



Choose a layout style for your pages and apply it across your site

Choose a graphical style for your pages and apply it across your site

Page Dimensions

Computer screens are small and of low-resolution compared to print media.

Computer screens are cluttered with browser borders, menu bars, control strips, scroll bars.

The smallest common monitor size is 640x480 pixels.

Don't design your pages to depend on monitor sizes larger than this!

Be aware that people may want to print your web pages onto A4 paper - especially if they contain lots of text!

Graphic Safe dimensions for printing

width=535 pixels
height=295 pixels

Graphic Safe dimensions for screen-only use

width=595 pixels
height=295 pixels


Page Length

Pay great attention to page content which appears "above the fold".

What does this mean? Why is this necessary?

But a user can scroll can't they?

Avoid scrolling if possible!

The proper page length to employ will depend on:

Minimize the damage of long pages by:

Shorter web pages are good for:

  • Home pages
  • Menu/Navigation/Index pages
  • Documents to be read online
  • Bandwidth-hungry pages (eg. lots of images)

Longer web pages are good for:

  • Easy maintenance
  • Downloading
  • Printing out
  • People who like to read without clicking links

Web pages must be free-standing

Pages may be accessed at random so each page needs to make sense on its own.

Every web page needs to answer the following basic questions:

Page Headers & Footers

Page headers and footers may help the user by:

...yes, page headers and footers are an excellent means of providing consistency!

(Make these clear, but not so large that they dominate or waste precious screen real-estate)

HTML assistance

HTML is not really suitable for complex page layout tasks.

This lecture's key point(s):

CSE3325 courseware | CSE3325 lecture notes

©Copyright Alan Dorin 2005