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Useful Tips for Practical Web Design

Aug 17, 2007
Though just about anybody can create a web page using some of the software tools available in today's marketplace - software that will generate your web pages and their "design" for you - there is a large difference between practical, appealing, and functional web design, and that which results from this marketing gimmick. And the poor results quickly become obvious.

Occasionally, as we surf the web, we come across a site that surely looks beautiful in one type of web browser, or a certain screen resolution...however, that is not the case in the way that we are surfing. Viewed in a different resolution or the wrong type of browser, and the plain text isn't even clear on the page. Further to this problem, there are many different possibilities for the operating system being used by your web design viewer. Such pages will never be properly seen by any viewer except the percentage using the precise right combination of operating system, screen resolution, and internet browser.

Assuming that such a web site is a merchant site, that is, it is selling goods or services online, the fact that such a small percentage of the site viewers are seeing the website design as it is truly meant to be seen, and the fact that only about half of the visitors are even able to view what is being sold will only translate into terrible losses in the potential earnings of that website. This demonstrates the utter importance of professional website design. It is not simply a 1-2-3 process, but is rather a fine mixture of artistic creation and technical dexterity - neither of which is more or less important than the other.

The following are some extremely important tips to be noted by website designers to help with their artistic-technical combination. Although some may be taken lightly, others should be taken very seriously. It should be noted that not everyone can be pleased all the time, but you can work to make sure that most of them will benefit.

Images do enhance a website's overall look and efficacy, however, this is only within reason. Images should compliment a site, not overwhelm it. Remember that the majority of web surfers still use dial-up, so their connections may not be as fast as yours as a web designer. To make sure that your site doesn't take too long to load, your images - together - should take up no more than an approximate 30k. Keep in mind also that each image will create a separate HTTP request to the server, so if you list a ton of tiny images, even though they're less than your allotted 30k, they will still slow down the loading of the page.

To help users along with images - especially slow loading images, or images that will not load due to computer settings or internet browser - take advantage of the ALT text attribute of the IMG tag. This will help users enormously.

Navigation and practicality should come before art. The website design may be the most aesthetically pleasing on the World Wide Web, but if it is a struggle to navigate, it will never be successful.

Make sure that all of your links are clear and obvious. If your viewer will only see a link if he/she happens to hover the mouse over it, the odds are that it will get missed most of the time.

KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Use two tables or one table inside another to speed the loading of the page. This type of web design is extremely functional and works well for leading one segment immediately - providing viewers with something to look at and check out while the rest of the site loads - and then brings up the rest of the content.

Avoid browser-specific functions at all cost. If a certain feature of your website design is available only to one type of browser, you'll automatically eliminate all other visitors who have a different browser than the one specific to your website design.

Do not use additional popup windows. Any additional browser windows should be done only by the choice of the user. Don't clutter the screen and frustrate the visitor of your website. Furthermore, some people may not even realize that an additional page has opened, confusing them when the "back" button on their browser won't bring them to where they once were.

Remember that speed and ease - functionality - are just as important as a visually attractive site. Make sure that your website design follows that rule, if any.
About the Author
Mark Nenadic
Mark is the director and face behind FifteenDegrees-North, where you will find articles and resources to help with SEO,
marketing and Web design.
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