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Few Tips For Web Design

1) Before you start designing, know what you want to say and what you want to have happen. Getting clarity up front is a make-it-or-break-it first step and the hardest part of any design. Failure to define a vision and work to it is the most common failure on the Web and why the Web is so dissonant. 2) Think not in pages but in sound bites. Condense a message to a few words, a picture, a square inch. Thats good practice in print, but its essential on the Web. Viewers dont see pages, really; they see bits. 3) Think top-down, like a newspaper big news first, less important as the page descends, the inverted triangle. It sounds obvious, but the viewer cant see the page all at once. 4) Limit your links. A page with 50 links each leading to 50 links puts 2,500 destinations within two clicks. People cant process that many options! Focus your choices, too. Its easier to decide between two shirts than bleu cheese, a new sofa, and a back rub. 5) Be consistent. If your navigation button is in 11-pt Verdana, upper right corner, leave it there on every page. Imagine your car radio buttons rearranging themselves tomorrow. 6) Limit your fonts, sizes and colors. Every difference alters the message in some way, so dont use differences arbitrarily. On this page youll see only two text typestyles, all black or gray or blue, a clear hierarchy, very deliberate. 7) More of a personal opinion than design advice, avoid shocking colors that dont occur in nature. Even if youre selling cotton candy, an entire screen in radioactive pink may cost your viewer his lunch. 8) Before approving your design, ask yourself three questions: 1) Is it beautiful? 2) Is it simple? 3) Is it clear? You want a yes on all three. 9) #5 Part 2: Consistency is king. [Home] should always be to the left or top, and [Contact Us] should be to the right or bottom. 10) Simple duplicate menu at the bottom of the page, so the user doesnt have to scroll back up to go to the next page. 11) Logo should always be an active link to the Home page. 12) A site that exceeds 10 pages should consider having a functional search feature or a site map. This is so visitors can have another way to find what they are looking for other than navigating on their own. 13) If you are going to use dynamic design tactics, input in alternate capabilities for the users who have Javascript turned off. Usability and accessibility, combined with the wow factor from design this formula results in the ultimate website. 14) Web sites tend to fall into one of six categories: 1) E-commerce (function: to sell products, tickets, etc.) 2) Corporate (function: to provide information about a company, its products and services) 3) News (function: to deliver real-time information on current affairs, weather, stock prices, etc. may be specific to a particular TV network, newspaper or radio station) 4) Information (function: to inform users on specific topics; e.g., online encyclopedia, city information, etc.) 5) Entertainment (function: to provide entertainment/ interactivity with games, video clips, music, etc.) 6) Personal (function: to share individual thoughts, experiences and interests) Realize that only 30% of your visitors are actually going to land first on your home page (Nielsen data), which is why navigation is so important. Tell your clients that they need to have a focused message that jumps out at visitors throughout the website, and that navigation needs to reflect that key message. Otherwise, theyll create cacophony and chaos (too many shouting voices in a crowd and you cant hear anything anymore). To explain why they need to start the page content with the most important elements, I tell my clients (as Ellen mentioned) to think newspapers and above the fold, and I tell them that only 30% of visitors actually scroll down (Nielsen data again). Beg your clients to keep texts short. People dont read on the web, they scan the first 3-4 words of each paragraph to see if they are interested (Nielsen eye-tracking studies). So clients should edit down a first time to shorten to the essential . . . and then edit down again! . . . And start paragraphs with key words. BEST TIP FOR THE END: Yes, people struggle to organize their website content. What has worked wonders for me is the following: Get the clients key decision-makers together for three hours (tell them how essential it is), and have them go through the Post-it-notes exercise (I call it). Their objective is to build the whole architecture (with sections and sub-sections) on the wall of their conference room, before they leave, where each Post-it note is a single webpage! And get them to sign off on it!