The only thing worse than a bad web design is – nothing.
There are, perhaps, a billion websites out there and if you want to even stand a chance on taking a piece of their market or attracting theirs to your side, you must create a web design that will leave the visitors with no other option but to visit your web site.
Luckily for web designers, millions of years have been devoted the study of human behavior when it comes to aesthetics. Designers
need not pull from thin air the principles that they can use in planning and executing their website. A lot of these principles are already known to the designing industry but more are not popular because they are not written.
These unwritten, undeclared but universally accepted principles are the ones I will discuss below.
IT DOESN’T REALLY CHANGE
From the early years of visual art, people have already established how they look at an art work – left to right, top down. Oddly enough, this is true even to countries who begins their writing from right to left, down up. It is unknown if there is a physiological explanation for that behavior but it doesn’t really matter. We know what need to know. That is the natural movement of human eye and the web design must not challenge that.
IT SHOULD WORK
If you put a link, there must be a landing page. If you put a menu, it must be clickable. If you put an image, it must be viewable. In other words, the site has to work. The first visit of the customer is always the most crucial, the first minute of a customer’s visit is even more crucial. That first visit’s experience will dictate whether or not the customer will come back. If parts of the site aren’t working, the natural tendency is for the customer to leave and make a mental note to come back. The customer won’t come back. You either have her/him immediately or lose her/him forever.
It is immaterial of the website talks about cancer, there is a fundamental truth that no one can argue with. People need to be entertained especially if you are requiring them to devote their time to website
. Customer s will not see the point of staying if they are bored to death. Whatever it is you expect the customer to do, you have to add an element of entertainment. This may be in the form of an activity or mere aesthetics. The more entertained the customer is, the longer the time you have convince him to do what you want him to do.
DON’T OVERESTIMATE THE MARKET
The site navigation should not simply be user-friendly, it has to be stupid user-friendly. As harsh as it may sound, if a grade 4 student cannot understand your site’s navigation no one will. It is not a question of intellectual capacity but the fact that a website is competing with so many other website and other things that the customer has on her plate, even those that are not connected to the online world.
DON’T BE SCARED TO BE CRAZY
If your web design
is just like all the other 50,000 websites the customer visited this month, then it is useless. You are just like the others and being typical, in the world wide web, is the worst thing anyone can say about you. Typical is suicide. You have to provide a new idea in web designing. It may be aesthetics or something that has to do with content or both. Open your minds and allow new crazy stuff to enter your head and work like hell to make it happen. Remember, the brightest ideas were called and tagged insane when they first came out. Phytagoras claimed the world is round and the whole world laughed at her. Well, who’s laughing now? Web design is just like that. You have to come up with impossible goals and make it happen. Even when all calculations point to your goal being impossible, just push. Someday, you will laugh at the world.
I hope these tips help or inspire you to go out of your comfort zone in web design. It is, after all, a pity for anyone to be confined with algorithms and web rules. It’s the internet, there isn’t supposed to be any.
The goal of most web designers is to create an attractive, easily accessible and functional website that will convince the visitor to do something. Creating such a website requires good graphic design, easy and intuitive site navigation, logical site layout and good web copy. The following suggestions are general web design guidelines.
You want the visitor to see you as a knowledgeable information source and/or a reputable business. Poor grammar and spelling will immediately reduce your credibility. Remember that people use the internet to find information. Whether you are selling your own product or recommending someone else’s products, you must first provide valuable information to the visitor or they will click away and find a website that gives them what they what they want.
Cross Browser Compatibility
There are at least a hundred different browsers in use. You must design your website to work properly in the most widely used browsers. To do that you may not be able to use all of the really great special effects that are available because they may not be supported in most browsers.
Even though most web browsers are free, people do not necessary bother to upgrade to the latest versions. The average surfer may not know how to upgrade their browser or have the attitude, “If it works, don’t fix it.” Remember your visitor may have a PC, a MAC, a Linux box, a PDA or a cell phone and they all use different browsers.
Good web design requires your web pages to work in Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape, Firefox, Opera and Safari at a minimum. Validating your HTML code will help but the final test is to view your website in different browsers running on different platforms.
Graphics and Photos
Web surfers are impatient and studies show that most people will click away if a webpage
takes longer than 10 seconds to load. Always optimize your photos and other graphic files to have as small a size as possible without sacrificing picture quality.
Always use the height and width attributes on the picture so the rest of the page can load while the graphic files is downloading. Use the ALT HTML tag so people with graphics turned off and those using hand held devices know what the picture is supposed to be.
If you use anything other than white behind text, be sure to specify link colors otherwise the user’s browser defaults will determine what color the links are which can make them unreadable.
Multimedia is composed of flash movies, video clips, audio clips and background music. Always use streaming media because it reduces download time. Make sure the visitor can stop and start multimedia files or in the case of flash introductions, skip them if they want. That way people with slow connections or devices that don’t support multimedia can ignore them.
Also, put any important information presented in multimedia in text as well so the visitor has access to that information without using multimedia. If a plug-in is needed to use the multimedia, always provide a link to it so the user can install it. Finally, always remember the 10-second rule for site loading when deciding to use multimedia.
Site navigation should be simple and intuitive. Studies have shown if a visitor cannot access the information they want within three clicks, they will leave the site. This is called the 3-click rule. Every area of your website should be reachable within three clicks from anywhere else on the site. If you use anything other than simple text links, make sure to test your navigation in all the major browsers.
Periodically test all site links to be certain that they are valid. Nothing chases a visitor off faster than broken links. There are several free online services that will periodically check your links.
Avoid using frames, since they make it difficult to bookmark individual pages on your web site and you want people to bookmark pages so they can come back.
Good Web design is a combination of common sense and good planning. Your site should be attractive and easy to use and most importantly provide the user with the information or services they want.