|Part of the
You Can Learn Web Success Techniques series.
By Ken Brown
Updated: December 10, 2004
This is a three part article on Web Site Design.
Site Design - Page 2
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Keys To Web Page Design -- Part 2