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 -- Continued Page 3


7. Do Users Have to be Web Savvy

Have you ever been told about a great site. You gotta see this web site. It's terrific. Then you go to it and it doesn't make sense. You don't know how to navigate it. The picture in the back is similar in color to the font. It is hard to read and yet your friends rave about it.

It is only later someone tells you the magic trick that only a computer geek would know to make the site a usable site. I went to a heavy metal band's page one time and I had this problem. I thought the background was fairly interesting but it seemed the text stopped in mid-sentence and I didn't know how to navigate to more words about the band. The third time I went to it, I was showing my wife the background and she found the button that caused the page to scroll. I seriously never saw the scroll button.

You might say, "yeah, you're just an old man, the kids who buy the albums they know what to do." I hope you are right, it could be the difference between making a profit and going out of business. Can you afford to be wrong?

8. Does it Meet Accessibility Guidelines

Accessiblility guidelines address the need for us to make our programs accessible to all people. For people using a reader, you should have text in the ALT tag of an image. That way even if a user can't see the image they know what the image contains.

Sites should be accessible both by keyboard and by mouse. Use multiple forms of output. Don't choose sound as your only indicator user has made an error. Use color, fonts and sound. Instead of color, use bolding.

Do not turn off the ability of the browser or operating system to increase or magnify a page. Don't turn a users sound off. Use text links and images instead of only images. Make sure the page works even if the style sheet is turned off. Provide a user with a text page for all audio and video transmissions.

You should be able to tab through your entire page and reach any point in your web site. Use an underline for hot key support on menu items.

These guidelines add another level of difficulty, but provide a rich user experience for all users.

9. Do You Know the Language

This is my pet peeve really. There is a lot wrong with my language skills in print. But generally I spell things right and read it all over again at least once before publishing on the web. I just go bananas when I find improper language usage, misspellings and words used incorrectly.

If the language is really bad, I might leave the site. But there are others that say if you are sloppy with the language on your web site, will you be sloppy with my business that I want to give you $1000 or more to give it the professional look.

You know that resumes are rejected for poor grammar. Will people refuse to give you a chance at their business for a failing in this area? I even go over my own sites that I published over a month ago and I find improper English and misspellings. Go over 5 of your current pages today and read them out loud and listen to them. Does it sound right?

In my direct mail days, we would review a page multiple times before we spent the money to print 5 million copies of an ad. One of the tricks I learned in direct mail is relevant to this topic. Read the text out loud. Then read the text backwards. When you read it out loud you find errors in content and grammar. But reading it backwards you have to look at every word and you are more likely to find spelling errors.

Luckily, for the majority of web masters the internet is a little more forgiving than print. I have seen personalization errors cost a company $28,000 because of one mistake. Most web masters can't afford those types of errors.

Summary

These are my hints, tips and tricks of web page design. Think about the user's experience. You want their business, either in buying your products and services or in accepting the information you want to share with them

So keep your web site clean and easy to use. Keep the bandwidth within reason. Measure the speed of your site. Review your web pages for grammar errors. I could probably find a misspelling on your pages right now. It is important to review your pages a few days or weeks after publishing to clean up the errors you missed the first time.

Save the fancy Javascript tricks for your friends. Keep your site fast, lean and full of rich content. Make the menus a logical extension of the architecture of your site so your customers can navigate quickly and easily.

Don't overdo the fancy fonts, artistic backgrounds and high tech flash. Keep it simple. Make it user friendly and accessible to all.

Lesson 5: What is Page Rank

A Secret To Blogging Success You Don't Want to Hear - How Long is It Going to Take You to Strike It Rich in Blogging? That is a good question right? All these successful bloggers you are trying to imitate did not become full time successes overnight. It took some time.

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