The key to good web designThe objective of any reputable, proficient web designer is to create an aesthetically pleasing, easily accessible and navigable website which has the clients best business interests included from the start of the project. The web site should convey trust; it should inform the website user that the webmaster is trustworthy and that the website can be used safely, therefore the website will convince the visitor to either; register with the site and make a purchase if the site is ecommerce enabled and/or make an enquiry if the website is offering a service. A good web design is easy to achieve – if you choose the correct web designer. The web designer you choose should be able to demonstrate good graphic design capabilities, be able to create instinctive site navigation by developing the site with the user in mind and be able to optimise the website for good initial search engine results as part of the design. This can be achieved through developing a clear logical site layout, site structure and a clear internal linking strategy. The following suggestions offer some precious web design guidelines.

Site Navigation

Prepare your site navigation before designing the site, a clean-cut and uniform navigation system is a must to prevent cluttering up the site with forgotten links. Site navigation should be well thought out, as well as being simple and intuitive; this is quite often overlooked by website designers. Remember the three click rule: Research has shown if a visitor cannot access the information they want within three clicks, they will leave the site. 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.Maintain a site map to help people and Search Engines robots (SE’s) find, and index in the case of SE’s, what they are looking for with ease. It is worth while remembering that navigation should be flexible enough to accommodate additional links in case you will be adding pages periodically. Link Check:  Test all site links and navigation to be certain that they are valid. Nothing chases a visitor off faster than broken links. Be sure to specify link colors otherwise the user’s browser defaults will determine what color the links are which can make them unreadable.Use keyword ‘anchor text’ for your links, this will help you with site optimisation, I also recommend using absolute links; (, As opposed to relative links; ().

Cross Browser Compatibility

There are many variants of browsers in use, and of these browsers there are many different versions being used, many users do not necessary take the time to upgrade to the latest versions. A good website will be required to render properly in all. Your website won’t be much use if it works well in Internet Explorer but is all over the place when viewed in firefox! It is also worth while remembering that the user may well be using a MAC, a Linux, a PDA and a mobile phone as well as the good old PC. As a guide you will need your website to work, and work well in;Microsoft Internet Explorer (all versions)
Netscape
Firefox
Opera
Safari 
Web Standards CompliantIn order for you website to reach its full potential, the most fundamental web technologies must be compatible with one another and allow any hardware and software used to access the website to work together. When a web site or web page is described as complying with web standards, it usually means that the site or page has valid or nearly valid HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The HTML should also meet accessibility guidelines.

Web Images

Remember the three click rule I mentioned? There is also the 10 second rule; Web surfers are increasingly intolerant of delays and research has show that most people will click away if a webpage takes longer than 10 seconds to load. Your websites images should be optimised i.e. their file sizes should be compressed as small in size as possible, without sacrificing picture quality. Your images should also be optimised to for keywords, the ALT tag should be used so people with graphics turned off and those using hand held devices know what the image is supposed to be, i.e. name your logo ‘logo’! 

Frames

Avoid using frames, frames can easily confuse readers who wish to print material on a page or bookmark a page for later reference or navigate using the browser’s “Forward” and “Back” buttons. Screen space also becomes an issue with frames; if you use frames to divide the browser screen, you will force many readers to scroll both horizontally and vertically to see the full contents of each frame.

The current consensus among Web design and usability experts is that frames should be used only in the rare instances when their limited advantages clearly outweigh the many problems they can cause.

Web Content

Content is king! Not just plenty of it mind, your content needs to be informative and keyword rich. You want the visitor to see you as a valuable information resource. People use the internet to find information. Whether you are selling a product or service you must provide valuable information to the visitor or they will click away and find a website that gives them what they what they want. Good content within your site will help your page rank, search engine placement and inbound links – if you a proven to proved good quality content , the likelihood is other sites will want to link to yours.Summary

Good Web design is a combination of common sense, good website structure and internal linking, oh and a good designer is a must. Your site should be attractive and easy to use and most importantly, your website should provide a simple and easy navigational system to aid the user’s experience.

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