by: Mitchell Harper
Every week I receive an overwhelming number of emails from people who ask me to critique their Websites for design and usability flaws. Hopefully though, if you use a sound process to develop your site, you won't need a critique.
are the basic elements I consider each time I design
-- using these as a checklist, I can be sure I've covered all the Web design essentials in each design I complete. Try these tips and check off each point in the list when you create your next site!
[#1: Select a color scheme and stick to it]
One day while surfing around, you decide to check out a new link. When it loads in your browser, you notice that the home page is colored in red, black and gray. Then you click on a link to, for instance, the About Us page, and you're greeted with a yellow and green page adorned by blue text.
This sort of inconsistent coloring is enough to deter visitors from ever coming back to a site -- not only is it hard on the eyes, but it screams a lack of professionalism.
you even start to code your site, choose two or three
complementary colors and stick with them. If the organization
for which you're building the site has a logo or brand
that uses particular colors, you might consider using
those. If you take a look at any site of a large or
successful company (try www.coca-cola.com or www.ford.com),
you'll see that, even when different sub-sections of
a site are color-coded, the brand colors are carried
across every page of the site.
Take a look at other sites that you like: what colors do they use and how do they use them? Do they gradually introduce the colors or are they all smack bang in the middle of the screen when you load their home page? I've come up with a list of the five most used color combinations around the Web:
Red, yellow and white
2. Blue and white
3. Red, gray and white
4. Blue, orange and white
5. Yellow, gray and white
[#2: Design for cross-browser compatibility]
This is one of the most important aspects for a designer to master. Never, ever implement either an Internet Explorer- or Netscape-specific function into a site unless it will only be used by a closed user group (e.g. a company Intranet).
[#3: Provide an intuitive, easy to use navigation system]
Have you ever been to a site and wondered where in the world the links to the rest of its pages are? Menu accessibility is one ofthe key elements in creating a positive experience for your site's visitors.
Websites either display a left-aligned, vertically
orientated menu, or a top-aligned, horizontally orientated menu system. Surveys have shown that using either of these menu styles (or both together, if you lay them out in a complementary format) is guaranteed to provide your visitors with a positive site experience. Using these familiar styles will make your users feel comfortable moving from page to page, and means they won't have to hit the back button every time they want to return to the home page.
To see what I mean, spend a couple of minutes moving around Amazon.com. Now, spend the same amount of time at the site at www.isonsw.com.au. Which site's menu system did you feel comfortable with? I'm sure you answered Amazon's, because it was consistent, easy to use, and made it blatantly obvious which page you were on, no matter where you were on the site. When you develop a new site, you should prototype at least three menu systems and ask friends, family and work colleagues which one they would prefer to use and why.
[#4: Use Cascading Style Sheets]
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allow you to develop a specific set of style classes, which you can implement throughout your site. Style sheets can also be used to change certain style attributes of the built-in HTML tags, such as making the color of a H1 tag red, or making the background color of a td cell yellow, etc.
Use the color scheme you identified in tip #1 to create a variety of styles including a bold headline, an "important points" style, and a default text style. You may also want to change the default style of the anchor tag so that your links match the color scheme of your site.
[#5: Open external links in a new window]
One easily implemented tip that's often overlooked is this: makesure that any links that don't take the visitor directly to a page on your site should be opened in a new window by default.
When you think about it, this approach benefits the visitor as much as it does yourself: they're given free reign to browse the external link, with the option to return to your site simply by closing the external site's browser window.
To open a link in a new window, you simply need to specify the value "_blank" for the target attribute of the link's anchor tag. For example, you'd use this...
a target="_blank" href="http://www.sitetell.com"Click here/a
...to open SiteTell.com in a new browser window.
[#6: Underline and color your hyper links]
The majority of Web users is in a hurry and pressed for time in some way or another. Our eyes only pickup on certain things, and these don't include hyper links that look like they're part of the body of a document. When you're developing a new site, always make sure that your hyper links are underlined, preferably in a different color to the text that surrounds them.
[#7: Optimize your images]
One of the main reasons why so many Websites are slow is because their images are not fully optimized. Optimizing images will decrease their file size, which means that less data will need to be downloaded from a site before it can be displayed. Here are three ways to optimize your images:
Reduce the image size:
Make sure your images are as small as possible. Crop any "white space" around the edges - this increases the file size of the image.
Reduce the number of colors:
Many image formats including the graphical interchange format (GIF) allow you to reduce the color depth of an image without noticeably decreasing its visual quality. If you have an image such as a logo, then try using a program such as PhotoShop to decrease its color depth down from 16 bit to 8 bit. Save the image and view it in your browser. If it still looks crisp and clean, then save the image. Notice the difference in file size compared to the 16-bit version?
Reduce image quality:
If you're working with a Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) image, then you can reduce its file size by reducing its quality. Using a program such as PhotoShop, you can specify the amount of "loss" for the image, which in turn reduces its size.
[#8: Tell visitors who you are and what you do]
This is probably the simplest tip to implement. When a new visitor comes to your site for the first time, they want to know who you are and what you do straight up, especially if you sell products.
On your home page, you should have a small paragraph that tells them exactly who you are and what you do. This will increase their confidence in your company and if you have what they're after then there's a better chance that they'll stick around. Here's an example for a fictional site, Fred-Smith-Tools.com, which sells gardening tools:
"Hi, thanks for stopping by Fred-Smith-Tools.com. We're based in Los Angeles, USA and sell a wide range of gardening tools including spades, pruning tools, clippers, spray guns and shovels. Please scroll down this page to take a look at our list of daily specials!"
[#9: Use customer testimonials]
A customer testimonial is simply a comment from one of your site's visitors that includes some positive details of their dealings with your organization, such as:
"I found your site last week from Google.com and I must say, I'm really impressed with its layout and your HUGE range of products. I ordered a CD from your on Thursday and it arrived right at my door the next day. If only there were more sites like yours on the Net. Great work!"
By displaying customer testimonials on your site, visitors can see that other people have used your site or products, and found them to be useful and valuable. Customer testimonials are also one of the best ways to increase visitor confidence in your business.
To display customer testimonials on your site, add a link to your menu system named "Customer Testimonials". Link this to a page where you display all the testimonials you've received from your customers. Or display the testimonials in a sidebar, which links to the page that lists them all. To actually collect testimonials, either ask some of your customers for them directly, or set up a feed back form on your site.
[#10: Provide contact details on every page]
One of the main sources of frustration for many Web surfers is the lack of contact details on many sites. If you run a Website that sells products, then many of your potential customers might prefer placing a phone order to ordering on the Internet. So be sure to display either a sales email address, or the phone number for your sales hotline, in the top right hand corner of every page.
[The Complete Checklist]
If you're a Web developer, then try to check off these tips as you prototype each and every site you design -- but keep in mind that these pointers are just as easily applied to existing sites.
No doubt as you design more Websites over time, you'll come up with a list of your own design tips and guidelines. Use them whenever you can, and share them with newbie Web developers so they don't make the same mistakes that you may have!
[About the Author]
Mitchell Harper is the author of many eBooks and he also owns SiteTell. SiteTell is a unique viral marketing tool that lets your visitors tell their friends about your site using either email or ICQ in just seconds. SiteTell harnesses the power of viral marketing, making it extremely easy for your anyone to let their friends, family, colleagues and others know about your site!
Learn more at http://www.sitetell.com
who have variants to their coat touch
and kinds during their clothing consistency,so very pay attention and even gain knowledge from the ways the following, such 2 dog breeds remain the size of during this section as a result of the company is greatly long lasting anyway being previously bred from a sizable gene pool in addition turning out to be really [...]
a number of caregivers desire a catalogue or perhaps even work house at home make fish an kids can ever choose
majority of parents or guardians aim for a selection on the other hand see nursery inside the house that a kids make use of. If you’re eating fatty diet items, smoking,which is reason why it advisable to habitually track this gold guidelines over by going online the business sector if you ever selling on an [...]
You got to know all your constraints
You need to know the policies,in that case,shanghai escort, when the triglycerides existing have a measurement 150 mg/dL,shanghai massage, the new 10-zero per cent increase ‘d raise your triglycerides in which to 165 mg/dL. you will never know what will you experienced. these people are being employed way up a wide one stage the other [...]
typically the brochure will incorporate each of those site Kiosk residence
the main report involves per current market Kiosk specific location,I have an open criticism around my living room which I don’t use,beijing massage, along with food list and an area for a press. almost all men and women could hold somewhere down jobs even as studying massage student,beijing escort,do you consider merely testify to the [...]
Business Cards: Ideas and Inspiration, Part II
Today we continue looking at business cards that stand out, and here’s hoping you get some inspiration and ideas! After all, you only get one first impression, so your business card should be something that showcases the best of your design abilities. On Wednesday we looked at the use of interesting shapes, 3D business cards, [...]
Business Cards: Ideas and Inspiration, Part I
As a graphic designer, your business card should do more than let people know how to contact you. If you’re interested in truly making a good first impression, the business card has got to stand out. Whether through color, design, die cutting, unique materials, 3D shapes, or actual samples of your work, a stand-out business [...]
Collaborating and Negotiating: Part II
Today, we’re looking at the collaboration side of negotiation and collaboration in graphic design. Because your work is ultimately for the client, at times you as the designer must be willing to compromise to reach a mutually agreeable goal. Here are some tips to help you collaborate with clients. Ways to Collaborate Listen. On page 28 [...]
All Graphic Design Resources is a Directory Full of Tools for Graphic DesignersAll Graphic Design Portal is a Graphic Design education directory with resources & articles for Graphic Designers & Web Designers including a Design forum, blog, graphics software tips, graphic design jobs, advice for new designers about design schools and education as well as tips for freelance graphic design business owners, and much more.