More Ideas and Suggestions on Web Site Design
Let’s admit it: While working on the job, or relaxing at home, we can’t help but surf the web for information on new products, for downloading new gadgets or new games, for reading the news or for reading up on entertainment. Since the world wide web has become such a mainstream “good-to-have” in our everyday life, most of us are familiar with all kinds of web sites, from the simple to the flashy. Have you ever wondered what makes a website good, and what makes one great that you can’t wait to pull out that bookmark? If you are thinking of creating your own website, here are some suggestions and advice you can take that will make your website bookmark-worthy.
- Optimize your images for the web. Some websites take extremely long to load because the images on the web pages were optimized for “print”. Have you ever gone onto an online store and let it load in the background, and realize a few minutes later that the page still has not finished loading? Other than a bandwidth or server issue, this is due to the fact that this certain website has very large images to load. Some web site designers go image happy. Of course, your website will look neat if it is just one long series of large images, but its users will be easily turned off by the fact that it takes over a minute to actually see the website itself. If you are designing a website that requires several images or pictures, create small thumbnail sized copies of these images and photos that the user may click on to see the larger image. For example, if you have an auto part website and you want to display numerous detailed photos of rims and tires, create a small 100 pixel by 100 pixel copy (depending on your layout) of each photograph and put these up on your gallery page. This way, instead of loading each large-sized image, the browser will only have to load the small photograph which takes faster. Link the images or photographs so that the user has the choice of viewing the larger image on a separate page, at his leisure.
- Use splash pages only if it is necessary. Have you ever visited a website that forced you to view a small intro video or series of images that was supposed to get you all excited and can’t wait to enter the site? The website designer probably used Flash to come up with the neat introduction. However, if you have a recurring website visitor, do you really think that he or she will want to see that same Flash introduction every time he or she visits the website? Very unlikely. Flash introductions are wonderful the first time you see them but they can become quite the annoyance after viewing them for the tenth time. If you decide to use a Flash introduction, give users the option to skip it altogether. For search engine optimization purposes, a splash page does not add any value and you may want to consider not using a splash page at all.
- Keep your home page at around 200 words. If you are creating a website that will be offering viewers a lot of textual information, avoid making the introduction (index) page too wordy. At the same time, don’t make it too abbreviated. Users do not want to read paragraphs of information upon first entering a site, or be stuck guessing which link to click. Keep the index page brief and to the point, briefly going over the objective of the website. Support your text with small images that are relevant to the content.
- Make your website easy to navigate for the typical user. There is perhaps nothing more annoying to a user than to get lost within a website not knowing how he or she ended up there. The menu system is your user’s familiar friend. Keep the menu system consistent and easy to use throughout. Always maintain a section of each page that allows the user to return back to the home page, for example, the footer. Make sure that you diagram out your website structure before you actually begin to create them. Look for ways that will allow links and paths through your website to be intuitive. You don’t want to have your users guessing where they need to go to retrieve information.
- Employ easy-to-read designs. Although it has become trendy to use dark backgrounds and light text and funky fonts, make sure that the typical user will be able to actually read your site. While you don’t have to always use bright pastel colors, make sure there is a definite contrast between your actual text and your background. Read our article about using contrast to find out if your combination of foreground and background colors are appropriate.
These are just a few of the many ideas that you will discover while maintaining your website. Make sure you use a monitoring tool to measure how successful the results are from time to time.