If you want to design a website as a hobby, for your business or even as your own career, a solid foundation of knowledge will help you get your foot in the door. From learning HTML to knowing search engine optimization techniques, there are many facets to web design.
Read on to find some advice which will cover all of the basics.
Keep the size of your web pages small. A lot of modern web pages are full of unnecessary elements, including huge images, Flash advertising, and lots of AJAX. Many people, especially those in rural areas and other countries with less-developed internet infrastructure, don’t have high-speed Internet and will have to wait forever for a large page to load.
Don’t force users to install strange BHOs. Many tech-savvy users won’t do it. Common offenders include unusual video players, image viewers, and platforms for interactive games. For most standard use cases, there is a trusted plugin, such as Windows Media Player or even Flash) that will do what you want without driving away users.
Check your pages for broken links. The worst experience for a visitor is to have interest in learning more only to click the dreaded dead end link. You can either check links manually, or use a program that will scan the website for you to report links that are broken.
Use a style sheet to stay consistent. There is almost nothing more disconcerting than being sent to a page that looks at nothing like the site you were just looking at, even if it is concerning the same subject. Style sheets help with saving your formatting, so each page looks similar to the rest.
Make sure that you use the right anchor text. The anchor text of a link should clearly describe what the visitor should expect to see when he clicks on the link. For instance, if a link leads to your widget ordering page, the anchor text might read “Order widgets.” Specifically avoid using “click here” as anchor text.
Keep the sizes of your files and images small. Excessive loading times are a death knell for any site. The larger the files are that must load, the longer a user’s load time is going to be. Most users will click away if the page doesn’t start to load within the first few seconds of opening your page.
Personalize your site. Your clients want to feel comfortable with you, so use testimonials from trusted customers, as well as photographs of people. Building trust with your customers is very important, so be sure to let them know you personally care about the product or service you are providing them.
To help your visitors be able to easily read your site, you should design it using contrasting colors. If you use colors that contrast, it makes the text stand out. If you have black text with a black background you will not be able to see the information, but if you have black text with a white background it becomes simple to read.
Know your subject. This means that no matter what information you share, do your research. People will not come to your website if you don’t appear to know what you’re talking about. Knowing your subject is very important when having a blog.
You want to set up some way to let visitors give you feedback. You will learn what is missing or misunderstood, and be able to make changes as needed. If your site visitors feel actively involved in the process, they will be return viewers.
If you desire feedback from your visitors, design your site to include a feedback form rather than a guestbook. A feedback form lets your site visitors contact you without having anything negative be shown to everyone else who sees your site. If you have a guestbook then everyone can read both good and bad comments, something you really do not want people to see, especially when the comments are negative.
Make sure you optimize your website for older Internet Explorer versions like IE7 and IE8. Lots of people grumble about IE, but they still use it, and they often use outdated versions. The older versions do not render all site elements to comply with web standards, which means using workarounds. Specifically, you should get up to date about an issue that plagued IE called “box model bug”.
Try and write a decent “About Us” page. A lot of websites contain ugly, uninformative, generic “About Us” pages. Crank it up a bit! Get a little personal with this information by describing how you got started with web design, who your family members are, and what your business goals are.
Watch the amount of flashy multimedia that is on your site. Don’t overdo it with a bunch of “extras”. Flash graphics and multimedia may appear enticing, but these may make it difficult for visitors to find the desired information from the site, particularly if they’re viewing your site from a non-Flash compatible device.
Make use of your grammar and spell checker. Yes, some mistakes may get passed some of your audience, but it will not get past everyone. You could lose some of your audience because of this, particularly if you make mistakes frequently. Do your best to correct your grammar and spelling on your site.
While development platforms generate code for you automatically, they cannot duplicate the reliability of classic text editors. The reason for a platform is to design all the features of the site, so that you can then paste the code that is generated. However, if you’re wanting to minimize errors and have an excellent experience, you need to utilize a text editor.
You’ve read the advice here and are ready to put it into action, so get ready to design your site! Start by sketching out a design and making lists of the content you’ll need and you’ll have your website online in no time.
Don’t forget to keep reading and learning so you’re never left behind.