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Essentials of Good Web Design

If you want to design a web site, you should follow nine rules of thumb.

1. General Impression
Your web site is like a window display of your business. If the impression that it creates is not good enough visitors will simply leave.
Your site must be:
It is better if your site shows less than too much. Over crowded websites, with too many flashy elements, create a negative effect on your visitors.

2. Message
The first question that visitors ask themselves when coming to your site is “What can I gain from here?”
Visitors are not impressed that much by promotional offers of free goods and services. They are looking for ways in which your site can be useful to them. If your site should offer one or more of the following:
Helpful tips
Contact with people who share same interests
Links to other interesting sites
Your corporate site should provide information about your business and products and services.
A business site should be simple to navigate and offer products and services that located in a simple way and ordered quickly.

3. Fast download
Your site should load as quickly as possible. Market research shows that the average surfer leaves a site that fails to load in 7 seconds. For a dial-up modem that means a maximum of 56 kilobytes. So avoid large graphics and flash animations.
The opening page of your site should not overwhelm your visitors with too much information or you risk loosing them.
Many Internet sites offer advice on how to increase the download speed of your site. Look for such articles read them and follow the suggested advice.

4. Graphics and Design
The graphical design of a website is crucial for a positive first impression. Every graphic element should help present the main idea of your site.
Funny images are not appropriate for a business site, but they can be a good choice for an entertainment one.
Graphics load slowly so use them sparingly and efficiently. Try to keep the overall size of your web pages around 30k.
Individual pictures should be about 6-8k. Additional 2k adds about one second to download time.
Right-click on an image and check its properties to find out its size.
The choice of colors is also significant since different colors provoke different feelings.
The warm colors like orange and red increase the pulse rate and stimulate the senses.
Cold colors like blue and green have the opposite effect.
Yellow is considered a happy color because it reminds us of the sun.
Select the right colors for the emotion that you want to create.
People read a text from top left down to bottom right. Place your images accordingly.
Images that have a directional aspect should point to the most important part of your page. If you use the image of a bird its beak should point to inside the page and not outside.
This is valid for all images:
Faces should be turned to the center of the page.
Cars should face the center of the page.
Neckties, roads and other prolonged objects should point from left to the right and from top to bottom.
You should put your navigation bars down the left side of your page, as well. This will keep them visible for your visitors.

5. Readable texts
Here we do not consider choice of words (we will deal with this later on), but rather the appearance of words on a page.
To impress word should be surrounded by sufficient white space.
Use dark texts on light backgrounds (preferably white). Dark backgrounds make visitors feel confined and depressed.
Bright backgrounds make texts difficult to read and red, orange and purple backgrounds can be dazzling.
The text color you choose is equally important, different browsers interpret colors in different ways. A text that looks fine on your browser may be illegible on a different one.
Divide your text in columns to make it simpler and faster to read. It is easier to follow a column than a large chunk of text that stretches across the whole page.
Choose fonts that are available on all computers and that are easy to read like Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond and Courier. Exotic fonts like Gothic, Script, Westminster, or Cloister look attractive in headings, but not all users have them installed on their computers. In this case, your visitor’s browser will render the missing font with a system one and ruin the effect that you are aiming at.

6. Easy Page Flow
Most people do not handle well large pieces of information. We have already suggested that you divide your page into columns that would separate the text vertically but you should also use headings and sub-headings that separate it horizontally.
Write short statements for the key facts on your page and use the statements for headings. Examine each section to check if you can break it into smaller pieces. Write a short statement for each of these pieces and use these statements as sub-headings.
Use the same font for all your headings and subheadings. Make them bold and increase the font size for headings. It will make simple to spot the large and bold headings and subheadings that are the same size with the text but bold.
If you follow this advice, your visitors will be able to see the key points of your page at a glance. Write your headings carefully, because if you grab your visitors’ attention with them they will stay and read on.
If you want to attract your visitors’ attention to other parts of the text you can make some sentences bold or change their color. Use this approach carefully, because some colors are difficult to read even on a white background.

7. Navigation
There are two reasons why you should put your navigation bar on the left side of your page:
People read from left to right and from top to bottom.
Web surfers expect to find navigation bars on the left of web pages.
It is a good idea to put a button at the bottom of a long text that would allow the visitor to return to the beginning of the text.
When you create a page design that you like use it on every page of your web site, it will make your web site predictable and will help your visitors find the information they need.
Save a blank page with the layout, columns, logos, standardized graphics, alt tags and navigation bars built in. Use this page as a template for all pages that you create for your web site and just fill in the content that you like.

8. Privacy and Customer Opinions
It is invaluable to get prospective customers to trust you, if you run a corporate site. Tell your visitors how you are protecting their private information. Set a privacy page that explicitly lists how and what information you collect from your visitors, how you keep their e-mail address, how you accept and process their orders, who has access to this information and what precautions you take with information collected from minors.
People like to know what your customers think of your products and services. Invite your customers to share their opinion, they would love to know that it is appreciated.
Make a dedicated page with the opinions of your customers. Offer links to their web sites in exchange of their opinion. This can be beneficial for both parties involved.

9. Spelling, Grammar and Word Choice
These are of crucial importance. If you are not careful here, all your efforts are in vain. Poor spelling and careless grammar and punctuation are the easiest way to lose visitors.
Spelling and grammar mistakes tell that the site owner is lazy, careless, and unprofessional. Your visitors would not like to do business with you.
What can you do?
Take steps to polish your own writing.
Hire somebody to check and edit your writing.
Hire somebody to write the text of your pages for you.

Autor: Free Web Space Provider