Keys to Web Page Design

Part of the You Can Learn Web Success Techniques series.
By Ken Brown
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 -- Continued Page 2

4. Make it Search Engine Compatible

In today's competitive environment you have to make your pages Search Engine worthy. Each page has to be able to stand by itself as a page of information. When it does contain information of interest then help your potential users find it easily.

Standard way to make it search engine friendly is to add the three major meta tags. Title, keyword and description meta tags are considered the big three. Though not all the search engines use all three tags, most use some combination of the meta tags and the actual content on the page.

As long as you are taking the time to design your page for most effectiveness, why not take a couple of more minutes to add in the search engine portion of the design. Make sure you have the title meta tag with a descriptive title that repeats the main points covered in your content.

The description meta tag should provide a little sales pitch for the article. Use verbs and keywords that describe the content, but also go a little way to sell the article for people looking for the information you provide. Some of the search engines provide a short synopsis of the article and that synopsis comes from your description meta tag.

The keyword meta tag should show all the terms a potential searcher might use to find your web page. The important point to add is those same words and groups of words (few people only search on one word) should also be in your article at least once and ideally multiple times.

The content should repeat the keywords and provide information in an exciting, informative manner. Make use of the key words but don't overdo it. Your keywords have to be in context to be most effective for search engine usage.

5. User Friendly Fonts

Use friendly fonts. Does that mean you put a smiley face at the end of each sentence? Nope. What it does mean is make it easy on your readers. Some people with bad eyesight can't read fonts when they get too small. Some people don't like fonts with serifs and others don't like fonts without serifs.

I have seen pages written in all lowercase characters. Don't do this. Studies have shown that the part that extends above the lowercase letters is what makes it easy to read our language. So use upper / lower case as appropriate in your sentence structure.

The artsy fonts can be difficult to read also. If you must use them, just make them your headlines. That way you can get the look you want without irritating your users. There will be times when it is appropriate to use a gothic type font for a lead into your Dungeons and Dragons site. Be willing to change it if users complain.

6. Easy Navigation Through the Web Site

How easy will it be to get around in your site? Are the menus where they need to be? Do they logically lead to more information? Is there a site map that allows users to find all articles at once? Do your users have to be able to master the mouse and mouse over and click at just the right point to get deeper into your website?

Make your menu names relevant to the content. Be clear not obscure in your naming patterns. If you are a realtor and you have pages of new homes for sale use a menu name like "homes for sale" not new listings. Some people not in your industry may not know what the term "new listings" means. Can you afford to lose even one buyer because of miscommunication?

I highly recommend having a sitemap page where you list every page on your website with a link to that page. For some people that helps them get a lay of the land so to speak and then directs them to the page they seek. This will also encourage you to name each page with a name relevant to the content. Use some structure and control of your sitemap page so users can navigate within that page easily.

Use mouseover menu items with caution. These are menus that pop up when your mouse hovers over them. With a little JavaScript trickery the additional menu items pop out when the mouse is waved over that point. Even though I have coded hundreds of mouse over menus, sometimes I go to sites and the menus don't lead me to believe they have the information I need. They lose a user because it isn't clear to me on a quick glance.

I am not one to wave my mouse over every point on the page to see what might be hidden. I glance at the menu items looking for a hint the page contains what I seek and if I don't find it then I am off to another site. This kind of leads into the next topic, "do your users have to be web savvy."

Lesson 4: Keys To Web Page Design -- Part 3

Secrets of SEO - This is the information that Search Engine Optimization specialists don't want me to print. This is so valuable you can make a career on just knowing this information and utilizing these search engine optimization techniques in your own pages and your customer pages. These are the secrets of search engine optimization -- SEO.

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