Designing your websites with photoshop is a great way to improve the end result of your site. Not only will you be able to see how you’ll end up with the finished site, but the sheer ability of the tools that offer will allow you to create breath-taking designs in a matter of minutes. However, it’s never an easy task and I’ll run through the basics for creating a clean, beautiful layout in Photoshop.

1.) Be sure to create a quality starting point. The height of your page will be contingent on how much example content you’ll be putting on your site. I generally aim for around 900-1000 pixels, so that I’ve always got plenty of room to add additional content , if I’d like. It’s width that most people struggle with. Unless you are making an unusually shaped site make sure you choose a width of about the 960 pixels. I generally use the 960 grid for payment sms my site, so somewhere around there is a good place to start. Plus, you will hardly ever see that a customer is using a resolution of smaller than 1024×768, so it’s safe to use that type of width.

2) Okay , the text to use on your mock-up. It’s vital that for parts of your website where live text will be displayed, you choose the right font for your browser. It’s pointless using a stunning font, and then impressing the client with your photoshop-based file in the event that you are unable to go and convert it into XHTML/CSS coding instead of replacing with photos. Keep in mind that search engines will not be capable of reading text on images, so you should avoid using images for anything other than logos, as it’s an unnecessary expense when it comes to SEO.

3) Keep it tidy. Use layers and folders to organize the various elements on the page and name all of your layers. It may be boring but, believe me, this is worth the effort. If you forward it to the client for approval, and the company doesn’t get back to you for two weeks, when it comes to slicing it up you’ll have no clue what layer it is unless you had it sorted out prior to making it in the first place.

4.) Make sure you have a crisp anti-aliasing effect on the entire text. You know, the dropdown menu on the toolbar? It’s closest to what the browser could eventually render it, which is why it’s best to do it. It’s too thick, and if you do not use any it just looks appalling.

5) When sending your design off to the client, don’t save it at rubbish quality. Always go for jpg, at full quality. It’s a larger file, however it will appear a lot better from the customers’ perspective.

6) In the event that the client has not specified a specific text that they would like to see on the page (I’m thinking they aren’t at this stage), use the lorem ipsum passage to complete any paragraphs on your site, so that you don’t have to spend time thinking up fake content to go between the lines. Be sure to mention to your client that it’s exactly what it is and that you’re not expecting to put that on his site!

7) Use blending options to your advantage! They can be so helpful in creating stunning effects on the various components of your site, provided you don’t use the default settings, and don’t over-use them. You can only have so the amount of drop shadows you can have on a page before it becomes tiresome to see. However, it is a good idea to experiment with them since they can be an simple method to create stunning effects on your website.

8.) Create some cool effects to your photos. Plain images can look dull on a page So, add the drop shadow, outer glow or an inner glow to your images to liven them up.

9) When it comes to slicing up your images, make use of the ‘Save for Web’ feature. This way, the image will be optimized for the internet, avoiding ridiculous loading times and keeping the image size to a minimum and without losing the quality. Remember that only pngs and gifs allow transparency (with PNGs being the only ones with partial transparency) Also, if you have an image that overlays the background of the page or needs to have information behind it, make sure you save it to the right format.

10) Always think ahead. Make sure that what you’re creating in Photoshop can be coded up later on. It’s more embarrassing having to explain to a client why you’re unable to create what you’ve previously shown them than it is not creating a stunning original design. Know you’re limitations, and don’t make life harder for yourself! You’ll only have to do this once.