Website Design and Development Tips

The best designs are ones that are not noticed and do not detract from the message of the site. Most successful sites use a white background and black text or a background color that doesn't obscure any text.

  • Many of the best sites on the Internet are content laden - useful information which is freely distributed. Include information relevant to your audience (i.e. how-to articles, tips and tricks, industry related news, etc.).

  • Your site should be periodically updated and maintained to retain repeat visitors. Also, reduce the number of outside links to prevent broken links.

  • Surfers will generally wait no more than 20 seconds for a page to load and usually will only remain for 20 to 60 seconds. Home pages must load quickly.

  • Know your intended audience. Studies show that visitors want fast loading pages and useful information. The least important features are "bleeding edge" technologies, flashy animations and non-functional eye-candy (unless that is what you are selling and what your buyers are looking for).

  • Never play music files the user has no control over; music tastes vary, and most surfers will hit the back button rather than the volume. This may count in your log as a hit but you will have lost the surfer forever.

  • Flash animations and eye-candy usually are only interesting once. You must rely on fast loading useful content. Allow visitors to bypass your Flash animations and splash screens. Slow loading, flashy eye candy, animations and music are usually not impressive to visitors unless you are selling tools to create these effects. If you must use them, make them optional. This gives visitors the choice of using these options.

  • Do not use frames unless you are an expert. Frames cause more problems than they solve. Be careful of using frames to frame other sites pages or content within your site. It can be construed as a copyright violation. Even linking into some sites interior pages has been known to get the linking site in trouble.

  • Each page of the site must be consistent and intuitive to navigate. More and more web surfers are computer illiterate. Make your site easy for anyone to understand and use. If you are selling something, remove all obstacles to the sales process to make it easy for customers to want to do business with you (prices and order forms must be easy to find and use).

  • Make links in your web site informative. Let your visitors know what to expect and give them a compelling reason to want to follow hyperlinks on the site. List the download time and size of large photographs or other files.

  • Design the website to allow for future growth without requiring major changes to the navigation systems.

  • Busy web pages are a common problem. Use photos and graphics in moderation, as they may detract from the subject matter of the page.
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