Keys to Web Page Design

Part of the You Can Learn Web Success Techniques series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, YouCanLearnSeries.com
Updated:
December 10, 2004

This is a three part article on Web Site Design.
Web Site Design
Web Site Design - Page 2
Web Site Design - Page 3


Web Site Design Hints, Tips and Rules

Most of us think we know how to create a nice web page design. But in reality, most of the pages I travel to are full of bad design.

Bad design runs the gamut from flaming eyeballs, horrible use of the language, designs that add nothing to creating search engine traffic, pages that require hours of time loading a single page, pages people have no idea how to navigate and in today's world the sites don't meet the accessiblity standards required by today's laws.

Here is a list of hints, rules and ideas on how to make your website better. I don't pretend to be a web design specialist, but I know if you follow certain rules you are more likely to have people visit once and come back often. You will notice that none of my rules talk about colors. There are artists that go to school for years that can make a handful of colors look terrific on your web page. I don't have that skill. I know what I like to see and try to make it non-offensive to the average person.

I think if you follow my thoughts and ideas most people will like to spend time on your site.

1. Keep it Clean

Number one hint on web design is to keep the site clean. What does that mean, you have to sweep the site everyday? No, no, no. It does mean you want to give the site a look and feel like there is structure. You actually spent some time planning and architecting the site and there is flow between page one and page ninety-nine.

Most of us start thinking of our web pages and then create two or three pages with a certain look and feel. Then three weeks later, we see something cool on someone elses page and try to emulate that look for the next four pages. In another month we repeat that same behavior with the next three pages. In a year we look at the entire site as a whole unit and say, we can't change those pages now it would take forever. So we are left looking at a mismatched monster, breathing fire and smoke into our eyes whenever we want to change something.

Ideally, before you begin making a monster, sit down and really try to decide how you want the site to operate. Look at 100 other sites before you make a decision about yours. What do you like and what do you dislike? Do you like menus on the top, side or dropdowns? Are you drawn to sites with Flash and photos or do you like just the text? As you look at other sites write down how you would improve the pages you see.

With this beginning you can now begin to sketch out the framework of your entire website. Build a quick prototype that you can play with and then put it through its paces. Think about how people will use your creation to get the information or products from you.

2. No Flaming Eyeballs

When I first started with HTML, my instructor told us that he would automatically give anyone a grade of "F" who used flaming eyeballs and other distracting images. You need to look at each page and say, "what image is appropriate and will provide the information the user needs to enhance the user's experience while they are here?"

I guess there is never a time when flaming eyeballs are appropriate. Though I must admit, I think they are cool. Many web design companies are all excited about flash, images, rotating gif files and even movies. All these things are happening in real time, yet you want the customer to learn about your company, get the information they need or to even purchase your products.

I must admit though, when I was in the direct mail industry, I had a very successful direct mail marketer tell me that he found the uglier his direct mail pieces the better. Ugly doesn't mean unorganized. The exciting thing about the web is you can do quick market research. Faster than ever before. You can put a page out on Monday and have a clear idea if the market likes your creation by friday.

The important thing to take from this hint is "if the item or thing you want to add is not adding to the page, then it is distracting from the page." Remove it.

3. Keep the Bandwidth Small

Like I said in step two, designers and marketers like to add things to the pages. Especially, images and videos. They think if they can put a 5 minute video on the page then that video will sell their product and profits will soar.

That is partially true. Some videos can be dynamite in increasing revenues and sales volume. But at what price? I currently have high speed internet through a cable modem. Many people have T1 lines at work and even DSL lines have increased over the years. But what is your customer using? Is your product or service purchased by business and the people looking at your website are most likely using a high speed service? Or, are you being visited and your main customer a middle age or senior person with dial up service that doesn't exceed 22K?

Before you let marketing push those huge jpeg files onto your well designed page, think about how long your potential customer will wait for those images to come up. I was on a T1 line the other day and I went to a realtor's page. She had a link to her newest homes for sale listings. She had about 20 images of homes that needed to load. By about home number four I couldn't wait any longer.

Imagine the poor bloke running a dial up service. They gotta really want to see those homes for them to wait the half hour or more for the images to load.

What are you doing to your customers? Try your site on a slow connection with a computer that doesn't already have the images loaded. How did it work? Will your potential clients wait or will they go running and screaming to your competitors?

Some of your competitors will appreciate the business you are sending their way. Those images take up bandwidth. Keep each page as small as possible to decrease bandwidth and keep your users happy. Sometimes you can crop an image or reduce the pixels and take a 100K file down to 5K. Do what you can to keep your bandwidth small.

Lesson 3: Keys To Web Page Design -- Part 2

I Ran Out Of Blog Ideas What Should I Write About - Blog Article Idea Starters - Do you ever reach that point where you don't know what to blog about next? As long as it isn't fatal, meaning you are so sick of blogging you never want to see your blog ever again, then these tips may prove useful for you.

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