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First Webs, Inc.

Rockford; Chicago; the World


Web Site Design Tips

If you haven't read Neal Schering's article on How *Not* To Design A Webpage!, please do so.  It is especially relevant if you're a business owner and want a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) web design program. 

Here are some additional design tips for your education, or for your awareness when talking to web designers.

  • Practice good design principles.  Your site online is the equivalent of your offline corporate headquarters.  You'll want to identify who you're marketing to and write words and content that communicate with that audience.
  • Carefully review your navigation scheme.  Menus should be clear and uncluttered.  If you are using drop down dynamic menus, remember that search engines many not be able to read them.  That means Google and Yahoo may not find all of your pages from your home page.
  • Always consider keeping the images down to good load times.  Optimize your images so that they look good, but still load fast.  A page should load in 10 secs or less.  If you have image intensive pages, you'll need more.  But those types of pages should not be pages where you convert visitors into clicking deeper into your site.
  • Keep your text paragraphs short and to the point. If a paragraph is too long, split it into seperate paragraphs so that the text blocks will not be too big. Large blocks of text will initially deter visitors from reading your content and they will leave your page.  People scan read sites, and they won't carefully read content unless you have already captured their interest.
  • Remember people read from left to right and top to bottom.  Although the rule is not universal, important content should be placed in the upper left, or appear on the page as soon as possible.
  • Your pages should comply with web standards at, and they should be cross-browser compatible.  Your web site may look great in Internet Explorer, but may not display correctly in Firefox or Opera.  Test it in all browsers before launch.  The consequence of not testing is that you will lose prospective customers.
  • Validate your HTML code against standards.  Use a validation tool like CSE HTML Validator.  These types of tools identify improper HTML tags so you can make corrections easily.
  • Keep the use of scripting languages like JavaScript down.  Using JavaScript to create visual effects slows loading time in browsers.  Use Flash files when you can to handle visual effects, and optimize the Flash file size for both quality and load times.
  • Keep the web site HTML code lean.  Lean code will load the pages faster.  Lean code will also allow you to optimize the content of your pages within desirable keyword density ranges.  If possible, run your pages through a "Spidering Tool" so you can see what the search engines see and don't see.
  • Use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to style your page content. Changes in fonts and colors can then be made by simply modifying the CSS style sheet.  CSS also helps keep the HTML code as lean as possible.
  • Always be clear on your need for traffic.  Typically, a web site provides information, sells something, generates a lead, and has the visitor take some form of action.  Always consider SEO and conversion as equally important steps in the design process.  if you have great content pages, but no clicks through to buy your products, or contact you, then the pages mean nothing.  Do not work with a web designer that does not understand the SEO process.

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