Friday, July 25, 2008

Non-Designer's Guideline to Creating Websites

by Michelle Roberts

As you develop and design your website be sure to pay extra attention to every little detail that will help your website to perform as optimally as possible and to serve its purpose. We have created a few guidelines to help you along your way.

Get rid of that splash page

Splash pages are the initial pages you see when you arrive at a website, often used to capture the users attention for a short time often for the purpose of a promotion or just to lead-in to the main site. Although they can be nicely designed images with only a few words such as "click here to enter", the fact is they are just that... a nicely design image. This serves no real purpose to the user or search engines, and as with most things it's all a matter of taste. Don't give your user any reason to click the "back" button! The ideal first page should be a nice summery of your complete website that provides your user with everything they need to know about your site.

Do you need so many banner adverts?

One guaranteed way to make me avoid a website, is with the overuse of banner adverts. Websites have bombarded us with banner adverts for years. So much so that we have now trained ourselves to ignore them. This is not to say that banner adverts do not work, however less is definitely more and you may find it more valuable to incorporate affiliate and ad links into relevant and interesting content. Try to sell to your users without them even noticing.

Try to use clear and simple navigation

If your users can not find there way around your website, they will become frustrated and leave. Providing a simple and straightforward navigation menu within your website design will help your users to navigate there way around your site with ease. Avoid complicated navigational systems such as multi-tiered drop down menus, and try to tailor your navigation for someone with little experience the Internet.

Give your user a clear indication of where they are

If your users get deeply involved in browsing your website, they may find a part of the site that particularly interests them, they may want to return or share with friends. Make sure that they know where they are and that they can easily return. Web users are fickle and if they become frustrated or lost they will leave. Make sure sections of your websites and clearly named and that you web pages have titles. Consider a breadcrumb navigation, as this will not only help users navigate but will let them know where they are in your site.

Don't use annoying music

If you are anything like me, your speaker volume will probably be turned up from the last video clip you were watching. Imagine the shock of clicking on a website and have the unexpected and often annoying audio loop blasting out loudly. Background music should really be avoided; most users do not like it and will become quite quickly annoyed. If music is necessary and you need to have audio, give the user some easily accessible controls to enable them to alter the volume or stop the music completely.

This now covers the basic guidelines of creating user-friendly and function websites. If you follow these basic rules when designing your website you will be avoiding major mistakes that could hinder your ultimate success.

About the Author

Michelle Roberts, Design2Go

Design2Go.net - Affordable Graphic Design
Design2Go work in partnership with new businesses and SMEs to magnify their potential through effective design.

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