General Web Design Guidelines
Written by: James Weir, Xpirt Design, web design orange county
The goal of a professional web design company is to create a website that is attractive, easily navigable, and accomplishes the motive of the site. Whether you are selling products, services, or just displaying information, the motive of the website must be accomplished. There are many ways to increase the success of websites; however this article will explain ways to improve your website’s usability, attractiveness, and browser compatibility, by using proven web design techniques.
The objective here is to create useful, unique content. You want the user to view your company, or website as a reputable resource for whatever industry or niche you are a part of. Grammar and correct spelling is very important if you want users to view you as a reputable resource. Providing useful content that is unique and informative is a great way to increase your reputation as well as keeping the users interested in what you are offering. Creating useful and unique content is also important for search engine visibility, in other words, search engine optimization. You want to create new content regularly because the search engines will view your website as a valuable information resource and will tend to rank your website appropriately.
Cross Browser Compatibility
A web design’s cross browser compatibility is also important. If your website looks good in Internet Explorer, but looks misaligned or improper in Fire Fox, the people viewing your website with Fire Fox or Opera (which is about 30-40% these days) will click off of your website and move on to the next. This is why it is important to ensure your web design encoding for cross browser compatibility. This is a major problem with some of the older, outdated websites today. It is important to keep your web design’s coding up to date and bug-free.
Graphics, Pictures, and Photos
When using graphics and pictures in your web design, you want to compress the image, avoid using too many images per page, or resize the images appropriately. The reason is to keep the page loading time down. If your images are too large, your website’s load time will increase, and most users these days will immediately leave the website. Also, it is important to label your images by using the image’s “ALT” tag. Labeling the ALT tags will tell the users who have images turned off in their browsers what that image is supposed to be. For search engine optimization, since the search engines do not view images, these ALT tags notify the search engines what that image is about, and in turn, you will increase your credibility on the subject matter with the search engines.
Background Colors and Text
Avoid using background colors that blend with your text color. You want your text to stand out and be clearly readable to the users. It is true that sometimes, certain blending colors will look attractive in the web design, however, you are sacrificing the user’s ability to read the text for the design look and feel.
Website Navigation / Menus / Links
It is extremely important for users to be able to easily navigate through the website. A properly designed website will have an easy to use menu. You should always try to follow the three-click rule, which means the user should be able to reach any part of the website within three clicks or less. If you follow the three-click rule, you will have an easy to use navigation or menu system that is search engine friendly, as well as user friendly.
Use text links whenever possible. Search engines prefer the use of text links over image links or flash menus, ect. The text link should always describe the subject of the link and should be short and concise. If you find that you must use image links, remember to use the ALT tags and label the images according to its subject.
Make sure all links are working, point to the correct destination, and are labeled properly. It is bad for a user to click on a link and find that the link either leads to the wrong destination, or doesn’t work (broken link). The user will get turned off and move on to another web site. Search engines also use links to navigate through the website. If a link is broken, the search engine will have a hard time indexing the page where the link is pointing to. You can use Google Webmaster Tools to diagnose broken links. It is always good to create a sitemap, whether it be an HTML sitemap or an XML sitemap. Site maps are a good back up for search engines to easily navigate (as well as users) through the site. A sitemap is simply a list of pages on the website in the form of links. You may also use descriptions beside the links to inform the users further.
Frames are bad. Avoid using any kind of frames at all costs. A good web design will not use frames for the design structure. The only time frames should be needed is when displaying 3rd party content on the website.
Follow these general web design guidelines and you will find that your website will generate more results, look more attractive, and be easier to use. I can’t tell you how important a good, smart, and search engine friendly web design is to both the users and search engines. I’ve seen so many websites, that have great products or information, but end up failing because of a poorly designed website. Don’t let that happen to you!
If you are interested in using Xpirt Design for your next website design project, please visit us at web design orange county for more information.