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I'm building a website for a client. I look at it and it just doesn't look cool. It gets the job done, which all of the websites I've built get the job done. But I don't think I've ever built anything that looks cool.

I follow the basic structure of a websites I've seen online, but I wouldn't compare it to a Zappos or a Stack Exchange. These sites aren't the flashiest sites but they follow the same structure of a million other websites and still come out looking cool, fresh and different.

Does anyone have any reading they recommend? Or design patterns or rules that I should follow?

Here is a picture of the current site I've built:

Here is a picture of the current site I've built

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I think the biggest thing to work on here is your use of space. edit: A simple and well-designed website is html5doctor.com. Look at the padding between the title and the content, between menu items, etc. –  mowwwalker Mar 22 '13 at 0:35
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2 Answers

As Zelbinian mentions, this is quite broad and also a bit off-topic according to our faq ("You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face").

As it it, it will probably get closed, because it's more of a brainstorming question. If you can think of a particular issue you are facing, something that can be useful for other people, please edit your question.

Having said that, some things you should probably consider are:

  • Amount of text - You have paragraphs and paragraphs of information that nobody will look at. It reminds me of websites from the 90s, when designers didn't know how people reacted to different elements. Now we do know: People don't read long text.

  • Color, or mainly lack of shades.

  • Giant hierarchiy-less menu - do you need to have all those options visible?

It's difficult to tell you "things to consider" when designing. The best starting path is to navigate through a lot of good websites and learn from them. Web design is much more than web developing (if you come from that field), in the sense that it's not a formula. Things work in certain situations and don't in others.

But in every single case, a website design will require research, time, dedication, and lots of re-evaluation. I'd first focus on the process behind a web design. What was your process like? Did you research the client, the users, the competition? Are you taking thoughtful decisions regarding color, typography, structure?

Yes, it gets the job done. It is a website. But does it do anything else? You are not currently designing, you are setting up a site. You can't achieve 'cool', but most importantly, you can't achieve usable, helpful and beautiful if you don't take the appropriate steps.

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Sorry but I have to react to "People don't read long text [online]" - I know what you mean, but there are people (especially in management...) who take phrases like this literally - like how a few years ago when managers commissioned over-stuffed homepages where everything had to be in the top 600px because "people don't scroll down". People do read long text online - but only when something has convinced them that it's worth their time to do so. –  user568458 Mar 22 '13 at 17:37
    
@user568458 Sorry, I should have said "People don't read long unformatted text". You are right about what used to be said about scrolling pages, it was proven user would scroll, but only if there was enough negative space between elements. In this case, it's the same. –  Yisela Mar 22 '13 at 23:39
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This is an incredibly broad question, but if you're just looking for a place to start, having a nice grid can go a long way. I'd recommend downloading and playing with Twitter Bootstrap. Until you have a more direct question, this is the best I can do for you, I'm afraid.

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