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Website Design Tips For Professional Sites

Webpage Design Rules from Professional Webmasters

Sidebar: Valuable info from Axandra Newsletter 10 March 2009 - Issue #359 (copyright info at bottom)
Very important Tips IMHO !

If you do it correctly, your website will be attractive to both web surfers and search engine spiders. The following list shows nine factors that can improve the usability of your website as well as your search engine rankings.

1. You should have fast loading web pages
Usability: Web surfers don't want to wait for web pages.

Search engine optimization: Search engines can index your web pages more easily.

2. Your web pages should be easy to read
Usability: It's easier for web surfers to read your web pages.

Search engine optimization: Near-white text on a white background and tiny text is considered spam by most search engines.

3. The contents of your web pages should be clearly arranged
Usability: Clear headings, paragraphs and bullet lists make your web pages easier to read.

Search engine optimization: Clear headings, paragraphs and bullet lists make it easier for search engines to find the topic of your web pages.

4. Your web page images should use the IMG ALT attribute
Usability: Web surfers with images turned off and visually impaired visitors will be able to see the content of your images.

Search engine optimization: Search engines cannot index the content of your images but they can index the content of the IMG ALT attribute.

5. You should use custom 404 not found error pages
Usability: If your 404 not found page contains links to other pages of your website or a search form then people might remain on your website.

Search engine optimization: Proper 404 error pages make sure that search engines index the right pages of your website.

6. Your website should be easy to navigate
Usability: Clear and concise navigation links that are easy to find help your website visitors to find content on your site.

Search engine optimization: Clear and concise navigation links that contain your keywords make it easy for search engines to index all of your web pages.

7. Important content is above the fold
Usability: Web surfers with small computer screens can quickly see what your web page is about.

Search engine optimization: The sooner your important content appears in the HTML code of your web pages, the more likely it is that it will be indexed by search engines.

8. Your web page titles are explanatory
Usability: If web surfers bookmark your web pages, a clear web page title will help them to find it again.

Search engine optimization: The web page title is one of the most important SEO elements. It should contain your keywords and it should look attractive so that web surfers click on it when they see your web page title in the search results.

9. The URLs of your web pages are meaningful and self-explanatory
Usability: It's much easier to remember a web page like www.example.com/support than a web page like www.example.com/123123-werwc.php?2342234.

Search engine optimization: If your URLs contain your keywords, this can have a positive effect on your search engine rankings. Dynamic URLs with many variables can lead to problems with search engine spiders.

Copyright Axandra.com - Web site promotion software

These are Design Rules for professional web sites and/or professional webmasters. This questionnaire allows the designer to grade / score / rate a web site - to check the webpage design against a 'subjective' set of web design rules. The questionnaire contains 'brief' tips / rules that are used by professional web page designers. Most of these design rules were found on webmaster design sites, educational sites and a popular webmaster newsgroup (alt.www.webmaster). These are basic design rules for a Professional Business or Organization web sites (NOT for Personal, Game, Entertainment sites).

Good webmasters usually think a lot like a web developer and a little like a web designer. Therefore, these rules 'lean' a little more toward the web developer - than the web designer. Most professional sites rate 'content' as main objections - and - 'looks' as secondary objective. Refer to this write up about The Web Designer vs. Web Developer to better understand the difference in web designer and web developer.

For the 'design rules grade', either agree, disagree or ignore the tip/rule i.e. True, False, NA (No Answer). To obtain an accurate score of your 'professional' design ability, supply an (True) or (no) answer for all questions - even if the 'question' does not currently apply to the web site.

Basic Design Rules / Tips:

You have about 10-15 seconds to make your first impression. Therefore, the first screen should display useful info in about 10 seconds (at 56k). (and all text must be loaded in less than 30 seconds at 28K)
True False NA

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). In other words, content is much more important than a jazzy or fancy layout. Keep the design simple so the visitor is not distracted.
True False NA

Footnote: The first two rules are often ignored by large companies because they know that people will wait for their site to load. It is called 'Name Recognition' and only sites like CBS, MSN, Disney, etc can get away with the slow 'fancy' sites. If you try it - then you better be famous or your visitors will leave before all your 'fancy stuff' loads :)

Clean, crisp professional looking graphics (less than 30k-50k per image ... total image size for page should be less than 80k).
True False NA

Simple and consistent navigation (on all pages).
True False NA

No frames or fancy formatting tricks. Use tables and CSS (However, limit the CSS to basic features until ALL browser provide better CSS support).
True False NA

Text is visible while graphics are loading (VIP: use the height, width and alt attribute for img tags).
True False NA

Search engine ready - Each page has proper meta keywords and meta description (Note: SOME search engines still use keywords and ever link counts :)
True False NA

Visually appealing - uncluttered and professional looking. A few examples are.... Do not use a large number of bright colors. Do not vary the font size, color, face, style from section to section. Use professional artwork for a logo (not just common clip art).
True False NA

Clear indication of site purpose, products and/or services (and opening section or heading on each page must clearly indicate the page content and/or purpose).
True False NA

No splash pages or excessive animation (They just distract from content).
True False NA

Additional Rules:

Appropriate and meaningful domain name.
True False NA

Important (critical) information is .. above the fold .. (top 600).
True False NA

Backgrounds should not be so loud and so busy that the text is difficult to read.
True False NA

Associated background and foreground colors show good contrast. However, Do NOT use dark background and light colored text (because the page can not be printed). (dark background/light text is normally just for personal pages).
True False NA

Web pages look acceptable in major browsers (i.e., Internet Explorer, Netscape, AOL and Opera).
True False NA

Web pages look acceptable in the two most common screen resolution (i.e., 800x600 and 1024 x 768).
True False NA

Important pages are no more than 1 or 2 clicks from the homepage.
True False NA

Images are optimized to minimize file size i.e. images are web page ready not printer ready.
True False NA

Verify all HTML with one of the HTML checkers.
True False NA

The site has contact info including company logo, name, address, phone, email, etc.
True False NA

Each page should contain the date that page was last updated.
True False NA

Copyright information on each web page.
True False NA

Do Not use pop-ups without warning visitor (BTW: most visitors close them immediately).
True False NA

Never indicate that the site is Under Construction (all good sites change constantly).
True False NA

Link colors and underline should be basic (underlined / blue text is typical). And in all cases, the underline tag should never be used where it may be mistaken for a link.
True False NA

Never use the MARQUEE or the Blink tags.
True False NA

Animated Cursors, trailing images (other fancy java, etc) are for personal pages - not professional pages.
True False NA

Do Not Hijack the status bar or display messages in the status bar. It is rude and crashes some browsers.
True False NA

Do Not use a page counter (tacky). Use an invisible statistic script that provides details / info that is useful.
True False NA

Avoid Deceptive Advertising - This disturbing trend has arisen in recent years: banner ads that try to deceive the user into clicking them .... by appearing to be a part of the web site or operating system interface.
True False NA

Rules for Some Sites (Please Answer):

Site map is provided for larger site (more than 10-12 pages).
True False NA

Site search tool is provided for larger site (more than 10-15 pages).
True False NA

Do Not use a Tell-A-Friend site JUST to promote your site. Tell-A-Friend pages should allow visitors to share helpful information with friends. For example, a How-To-Page, a Recipe, a Support Site, etc, etc
True False NA

If site requires more than a few images, provide thumbnails that link to the large images. Do Not just resize an image with the width and height attributes. A real thumbnail is a separate image that loads fast ... It is small in both physical size and small in file size (<5k).
True False NA

In some cases, site should have appropriate warning about the content (especially if it is an adult site).
True False NA

Provide an explicit warning when linking to non-HTML files (or files that require a plug-in).
True False NA

If you MUST use image maps they should be very small (load fast). And alternate links Must be provided.
True False NA

If you MUST use music, do Not set background music or sound to auto-play. Give visitor the choice after indicating the file size (or loading time), type of music (midi, real, etc), plug-in requirements (if applicable), etc
True False NA

Do not use a guest book or message board unless it is really essential. It looks bad to have an empty guest book.
True False NA

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