When you visit other websites you will notice that the design, or the 'look and feel' of these sites varies greatly. Some will have a corporate look, while websites targeting children will use bright colours and possibly animation and sound.
The design of your community website should reflect your community, and also be attractive to potential visitors to your site. Once you have an idea of the content for your website, you can begin planning the design or the 'interface'.
If you are working with a professional designer, try to be clear about what message you want the design to convey – warm and friendly, fun, professional or energetic – think of words that describe what you have in mind. It may help to show the designer some different websites and talk about what you like (or don't like) about their design.
A common mistake in developing a website is to 'over-engineer' it. There are a few standard design rules that help visitors find their way around each new website they visit. For example, most websites have a menu at the top of the page with a link to the home page on the left. Website visitors want to be able to find the information they are interested in quickly and easily, without having to learn a new navigation system every time.
Also, it is best to keep elements like sound, animation and video to a minimum. Not only can they be expensive to produce, but they can also be unnecessarily distracting as well as increasing the download time of the website, particularly for visitors with slower Internet connections.