Design Tips. Do's and Don'ts

Designing a Web Page is an art. Any suggestions on how to
design a great looking web page can consequently only be a
subjective opinion. For those of you that are relatively new
to web page design, there are some guides that you can
follow to help make your web pages work better. If you
follow these tips, your web page may still be as ugly as
sin, but at least it will be efficient well designed sin.


-Use Meta Tags
If you want your web site to be properly listed with the
search engines (why wouldn't you?), then you must make full
and proper use of the Meta Tags. These include using a page
Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords. You should also
try to include similar text and keywords in the Body of your
web page if appropriate.

-Simply State the Purpose of your Web Site
There have been quite a few web sites that I have left
without ever fully understanding their mission. It may be
obvious to you but don't assume that your first time visitor
will know. Although your design may constrain how you do
this, the simplest solution often is just to write it. If it
matches your Meta Description it will also help with
your Search Engine ranking.

-Use a Simple Intuitive Navigation Scheme
There is nothing more frustrating than a web site with a
poor navigation scheme. This is not the place to let your
creative juices run wild. Keep it simple and think in terms
of a first time visitor that is not familiar with your Web

-Use Multiple Browsers.
What looks great in Internet Explorer could be a mess in
Netscape Navigation. It is a mistake to assume that all
Browsers are created equal. Install both Browser's on your
machine and test your web pages with both especially
Netscape which is currently the fussier about bad code.

-Test at Multiple Resolutions and Font Settings
It's easy to make a great looking Web Page at 1280x1024 and
16.8 million colors. You should see what a mess you have at
640x480 and 256 colors. You need to test at multiple
resolutions if you want your web site to look good to all
your visitors. Also be sure to test with both Large Fonts
and Small Fonts selected from the Control Panel in Windows.
It could significantly alter the layout of your page.

-Use GIF's and JPEG's appropriately.
GIF's work best with computer generated images or images
with large blocks of solid colors. JPEG's are better for
real-life images and photographs. BMP's should not be used
unless you have a good reason. They are just too large. In
all cases, keep your images as small as is appropriate for
your design.

-Include Dynamic Content
A first time visitor to your web site is the hardest and
most expensive to get. Add a job board, a discussion group,
syndicated articles or whatever you find as an appropriate
way to encourage them to return.

-Get a Domain Name
A free site or a site included with your Dial-Up Service
Provider is fine for casual users. If you are serious about
having an on-line business then you must have a commercial
domain. These are ".com" names in the US, ".co.uk" or
whatever country code applies in other countries. Commercial
sites will be more easily indexed by the search engines and
will increase your credibility.

-Use a Good Host for your Web Site.
There are many professional hosting companies around. For
$20 to $30 month you should not have any trouble finding one
that will provide a minimum of 60meg disk space, several GIG
transfer allowance, CGI support, visitor logs, stats, plus a
host of other professional services.

-Keep your Site Fresh
There is no such thing as a finished web site. It is a work
in progress. You are bound to find things to improve upon
and correct. You must also include new content and even
occasionally change the look and feel in order to avoid that
same old stale look that is a sign of a forgotten and
neglected web site.

-Test, Test, Test
It is easy to design a Web Site that works and looks great
on your computer. The trick is to make it look good on a
computer that may be configured in some strange ancient (3
years old or more) manor that you have never experienced.
Ask friends, relatives, acquaintances and anyone else to
check it out. Post a Web Master feedback email to have
visitors to tell you about bad links and design problems.


-Avoid using Frames
If you have a good reason to use Frames then do so. If not,
avoid them. Frames are less likely to be indexed by the
search engines, they will increase your download time and
will cramp the viewers screen.

-Avoid Audio.
Again, if you have a good reason to use audio then do so. If
not then avoid it. If audio really were a great way to make
your web site look cool, then everyone and their uncle would
be using it. Audio Wave files are very large while Midi
files will sound like alley cats in a fight on some systems.
If you do decide to use audio then use both the \
tag and the \ tag to ensure it will work in both IE
and NN Browsers.

-Avoid Video
Not everyone has a cable modem or T1 line. Even the very
best compacted streaming video will demand a major
undertaking for your visitors. If it is appropriate for your
web site be sure that it is optional, the file size is
clearly stated and any special
plugins or other requirements
are clearly identified.

We all know when we get it but it is a lot harder to
identify when we send it. Windows that open automatically,

Meta Refresh tags with 0 time, Meta Tags that include
competitor's product names, may all be potential forms of


This is not an all-inclusive list. Not every web site or
audience is created the same. What is great for one may be a
major problem for another. Know your web site and know your
audience and be willing to make changes as needed. That is
what makes a dynamic web site.

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright 2000 Virtual Mechanics

"IMS Web Tips" is a weekly news letter for all web site managers regardless of experience who are looking for detailed information on creating, maintaining and promoting their web sites.

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