10 Most Important Web Design Tips
6. I Don't Know How To Find What I Want
A very common mistake to make when designing a web site is to think that your users know exactly where on your site to find what they are working for. What you must remember, though, is that the people visiting your site did not make it. They don't know where you put each piece of information. They need to be shown exactly where to find what they want. Use descriptive links. Always have an obvious link back to your homepage. If at all possible you should include a search function. This is not difficult to set up and you can get free site search from:
7. Don't Keep Moving Things
When designing a web site, the first thing you should remember is to keep a consistent design. The only page which can be different is the main page. If you keep moving around your site's navigation or if every page is completely different from the others, your visitors will get confused. Sometimes they will think that they have left your site, sometimes they will not be able to find the link back to the home page. Make use of technologies like frames and tables to create consistent navigation and your visitors will like your site.
8. I Am Not Interested In You Or Your Awards
One of the mistakes that a lot of sites, especially smaller ones, make is to have too much on their website telling users about the person who built it and showcasing the awards the website has won. Most people on the web will be looking for information, they don't care about the name of your dog! It is all right to have some information about you on a separate section of your site but don't make it a central part. Also, don't put awards all over your front page. Most awards mean nothing and anyone who submits to them win. Unless you have won a major award (like a Webby) don't put them on your main page.
9. Don't Crowd The Screen
A very important thing to do when designing your website is to leave a bit of space. Even though screen space is precious and you should try and make the best use of it, try to leave some blank space. Leave margins, use shorter paragraphs and don't fill up the screen with animated GIFs. If there is space, your site will look 'clean' and 'open' and users will like it. Using animated GIFs will draw your users' attention away from your content, which is what they are at your site for.
10. Make Your Site Sticky
Imagine this, instead of having to promote your site, your visitors would just come to your site. They would stay on your site longer, view more pages and keep coming back. This is actually possible if your users like what is on your site and return. Some ways of making your site 'sticky' like this is to offer a service (like e-mail from Everyone.net), have a newsletter, update regularly or include news headlines on your site. It could save you a lot of time.
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Watch out for a future feature where we will ask other web designers what their top 10 tips are.
1999 - 2003 David Gowans