10 Guidelines for the new Web-Designer

1. Targeting  Design your site to meet specific user needs and goals. Think what will motivate different people to look at different parts of your site. Remember to target your design at the majority of users who currently set their screens to 800x600 pixel resolution.

2. Who is your user? What are their likely tasks? Why have they come to your site? For a site to be usable, page flow must match the expected workflow of your users. Do use good headlines when designing newspaper, newsletter and other information-based sites because studies show that users tend to look first at text, not images (surprisingly a margin of nearly two to one favouring text).

3. Architecture & Layout -how easy is your site to use?  Build an ideally simple navigational structure. Remember - if they can't find it in 3 clicks, they're probably gone........... Think too about the following:

  • When text and images are of similar size, text is more likely to be an entry point,
  • Images must be much larger than text to act as an entry point, and
  • Larger text dominates over smaller text (normal sized text rarely acts as an entry point - even if bold or a hyperlink).
  • Do put the most important prose text and bullet item information toward the top left of a page, because users tend to scan from left to right, and top to bottom when reading.
  • Perhaps use common background colours to help guide users in finding information on a page.
  • Do put the most important information on a Web page at the middle-top of the page because that text will be seen first, and text at the bottom of a page is rarely seen.
  • Use right and left panels for links, because users will investigate areas outside the center area when searching for a specific link, and when visiting a Web site after the first time.
  • Do not use fonts on Web pages that are less than 10 points. For most adults 12-point fonts leads to the best reading speeds. If you're aiming at an older audience try to use 14 points.
  • Use any of the most common font styles (e.g., Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman), either serif or sans serif fonts, again to give the fastest reading speeds.

4. How easy?  Make your controls/menus understandable. Avoid confusion between logos, banners, and buttons. Your Web sites will appear more credible if:you make it easy to distinguish ads from content,

5. Duplicate  Why reinvent the wheel? Why waste your time? Use templates for the most common if not all your pages.

6. Test, Test and Test.  Test early in design and as you go along. Check your links.. Don't wait until the end when it's too late.

7. Know the technology limitations   Identify and optimize for target browsers and user hardware. Test HTML, JavaScript, etc. for compatibility. Remember over 90% are thought to now be using Microsoft Internet Explorer of one version or other.

8. Know likely user tolerances   Most users are impatient... also remember who's phone bill is clocking up if your site is slow.. Design, where possible, for a 2-10 second maximum download. Reuse header graphics so they can load from cache. Avoid excessive scrolling. Remember customer support as well - can they contcat you for help? Can you easily get feedback?

9. Graphics Animation  Some good animation can attract attention to specific information. Too much movement can become distinctly irritating and even distract from other key infomation..

10. Check your statistics....  Monitor traffic through your site. Which pages are regularly visited? Which doesn't anyone bother with? Which pages make users leave? Adjust..........and try again.

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