The Dos and Don'ts Of Business Web Design

2003 Viki Nygaard

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It would appear that many business owners just aren't getting it when it comes to Web design. It has been proven over and over again that Web surfers prefer certain things when visiting sites. The list below is short, sweet and to-the-point. It will help to guide you as you design, or redesign, your site for maximum effectiveness.

Content -

  • DON'T write copy that is focused on your company. Place emphasis on how buying your product or service will benefit your visitor. Use the word YOU (referring to your visitor) instead of WE or US.

  • DO be very clear on the home page about what your site offers. Don't make them guess.

  • DO use good grammar and check your spelling!

  • DO break up the copy into small, easy to read portions by using headings, subheadings and lists to break up the copy.

  • DO use an easy to read font such as Arial or Verdana.

  • DON'T use all caps as they are hard to read and associated with shouting. Also use bold and italics in moderation.

Navigation System -

  • DO provide text links even if you use navigation buttons or image maps. Some people have images turned off in their browser to speed loading time and will have a difficult time navigating your Web site without text links.

  • DO be consistent in your navigation. Your navigation links and buttons should be in the same location on every page.

  • DON'T allow broken links on your site. Download a FREE program called Xenu that will check all links and report errors.

  • DO open a new window when linking to an external site. This will allow your visitors to easily return to your site when they are finished visiting the linked site.

  • DO consider adding a search engine to larger sites. Atomz offers a FREE search engine and is considered to be one of the best on the market.

Design and Layout -

  • DON'T design your site yourself unless you can make it look professional. "Homemade" looking sites simply don't sell.

  • DO think twice about using frames. Most search engines dislike sites with frames and won't index them. Using frames also won't allow your visitors to bookmark the inner pages as the URL remains constant regardless of what page you are on.

  • DO keep the layout of each Web page consistent. Each page should have the same basic layout elements.

  • DO choose your colors carefully. The colors of your Web site are important because they will define the mood and emotions of your visitors as well as reflect your identity and image branding.

  • DON'T make your site too "busy". Leave some "white space" as it helps to guide the eye from one point to another and eases eye strain.

Images -

  • DON'T use clip art as it looks cheap and tacky. Have your graphics custom and professionally made whenever possible.

  • DO use alt tags with all your images and make them descriptive. Many people with visual impairments use a speech synthesizer which reads aloud to them the contents of the Web page. If an image doesn't have an alt tag, the synthesizer will simply say, "image". Alt tags are also important for those who have images turned off in their browsers. The alt tag will show in the area where the image normally would be.

Feedback -

  • DO provide forms throughout your Web site that allow your visitors to give you feedback. You can learn a lot from what your visitors have to say.

  • DO provide an email link or contact form on every page.

Testing -

  • DO view and test your Web site in as many different browsers and browser versions as possible. Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator are the two most commonly used browsers.

  • DO choose a few people who can give you honest feedback to test your Web site thoroughly and give you insight on its useability.

Despite all the hype about java scripts, Flash presentations and animation, the simple Web sites are the ones visitors return to regularly. Surfers prefer sites that are to the point and easy to navigate without them having to download special software.

Keeping these few simple tips in mind during your site design can mean the difference between a highly visited site and one that is clicked over.

Viki Nygaard is President of Mount Evans Designs specializing in professional Web design. For those businesses who insist on quality but must maintain a budget, visit today. You'll be thrilled with the exceptional designs and the affordable rates!