Newbies to the world of Web site design (you know who you are!) often struggle to unlock the keys to successful and functional page layouts. If you find yourself in this category, then the following words of wisdom from veteran designer Lou Speks will help ~ Stephen
1. Reduce the size of your graphics. Making your page load as fast as possible is extremely important to keep your visitors. When a website takes to long to load they will go elsewhere. Graphics can be optimized to reduce the size. Try to use the Web Palette whenever possible. Use jpeg for photos and gif for almost everything else. Large image files look good but are you compromising the functionality of your web page?
2. Easy Navigation. Making your website easy to navigate helps visitors find what they are looking for. Be careful not to have “dead ends” where a visitor can’t find their way back to where they came from. Be consistent in your placement of navigational tools. Placing main page links on every page helps the visitor navigate.
3. Add Online Resources. Give something that will interest your visitors. Online resources are a great way to keep visitors coming back. A great example of this is the 3D text maker from Xara. You can place this tool on your website giving your visitors a reason to stay.
4. Add a “What’s New” or “Latest News” section to your index page. This works great for you and your visitors. When you add something new your visitors will see it. There is a mutual benefit to this, both to you and your visitors. This allows you to announce your changes and updates and lets the visitors see and use the latest additions to your website.
5. Maximize your wording. Your main page should be a window to your website. It should give brief information on what your site is about. Get to the point on your index page. What is your website about?
6. Prioritize your information: Important information should come first, closer to the top. Don’t place minor information near the top of your website. Your visitors will read the top information first and are less likely to read what’s at the bottom of the page. First decide which information is the most important on your website. Then focus on having people see it.
7. Page size: 2-3 pages lengths is okay, but anything more you should compact the information. People generally don’t like to scroll down if there is an endless scrolling amount. They give up and focus on what’s closer to the top. If your page is too long divide it up into several pages with shorter information clips on the main index page leading to the second page.
8. Avoid background text contrast. Black letters on white backgrounds is usually the best choice. Bad contrast between colors can be an eyesore. You should try and keep your main text area simple in color. I’ve seen many websites where the text and background color ruin the website; the information might be good, but the contrast is hard to read – especially on longer documents.
9. Avoid too much animation. Too much going on distracts people and annoys visitors from what it is you are trying to accomplish with your website.
10. Use tables and fonts effectively to properly space out your website. Your website spacing is important to the look of your page. Plan it out properly and use tables to get the look the way you want it. “Sometimes simpler is better!”
If you incorporate these techniques into your own designs, you will end up with a much more functional and successful Web site ~ Good luck!