Shortcut to Building a Class Site
 
I would like to suggest the concept that the fasted way to build a site (or course site) is to try and copy an existing one. Find a professionally designed site and try to duplicate the elements: type faces, color selection, navigation structure, hierarchy of pages, survey forms, and the multitude of details that exist.  You don't have to worry about someone saying you are stealing something, because almost all of us, don't have enough experience in web and course design, to get it to the level of the professional designer who put the site together. 

 I like to show my students this fast way to make their work look excellent. By attempting to copy a professionally designed course or web site , we learn a tremendous amount and are working effectively. The site designers you are trying to copy, if they are professional, have probably studied design in college and are quite good at it. Designers have put a tremendous amount of time and study into developing  elements that work well on the site: color schemes that look good, heading sizes and font styles, page layouts for comprehension, and many more details. As an inexperienced new designer you can't know even a fraction of what a professional designer does. So if you are in a hurry or want an effective way to create a site (or course) that looks  professional, find one you like and try to copy it. It also is a great way to learn design.

 

This is a  project I have my beginning design students do. Sketch out a web page you like. Include as many details as you see.

Here is a sketch one of my students did. (She is sixteen.) She made observations about fonts, background colors and shades, spaces for photos,  headings and their colors, repetition of colors and the grid it used in the layout.

Below it is a link to the Harvard web page. By sketching it out, she is able to observe all the detail. Copying this layout along with all the details would make a beginner look good. It won't be easy., But even if you get some of it, what you get will at least give you solid direction and help you get started.

 
Link to Harvard

http://www.harvard.edu/