Once you have decided to create a website, it can be difficult to know where to start. How overwhelming it feels to consider all the aspects of site design! The User Interface, Usability, Accessibility, SEO, Social Marketing, who your web hosting company will be, blagh blagh—auuughgh!! Remember though that the best designs are the ones based on strong principles and simplicity. An “over-gagetized” approach that tries to offer everything to everyone will not only overwhelm you, it will overwhelm the people who arrive at your web site only to quickly exit. So take a deep breath and think – “reasonable”, “simple”, “principled”. Do not focus on the masses of people coming to your web site. Focus on the individual person, the visitor that you are going to satisfy.
When a person visits your web site, notice I said “a person” (not search engines), the individual should feel dignified and respected while browsing the content. Do not try to force content on your visitors. People who come to your site should feel comfortable making choices and easily find what they came for.
As alluded to above, always remember that the experiences of humans are far more important than what a search engine finds when arriving at your web site. Don’t get me wrong; I place a strong emphasis on Search Engine Optimization. What good designers realize is that the search engines, the really good ones, place their focus on user’s experience. They work hard to eliminate any site that disregards the user. It’s really great to see spammers targeted to be taken down. Spammers are the guys that clutter the Internet full of – well, who likes spam!
I agree with Robin Good when he stated, “Bad advertisement is evil.” What more needs to be said. Interruptions to the flow and form of the user’s experience are not going to bring extra revenue to your web site. They only sully the potential for establishing a good reputation in your field of expertise.
Inform and teach your visitors. When speaking about something that seems so obvious or comes so naturally to you, it may fear you are boring your audience. But remember, your readers do not know as much as you and are often hungry for the information. That’s why they are visiting your site. However, the last thing you want to do is bore them so keep it interesting. Make the information easy to understand. Keep it exciting with clear examples of what you art talking about. If you share valuable knowledge in a clear and concise way you will come to be respected as an authority.
Show regard for standards in the web community. By spending the extra time to make sure things are done right you will save a lot time and money in the future. Think about people and what they are looking for and what they expect to find. Think about standards in how things are coded. If your web pages conform to the current standards as set out by W3C and other reputable organizations, then you will not need to worry so much about new versions of browsers as the old way of doing things fades into oblivion. Become known for readability, accessibility, and usability. Your visitors will feel respected and return the favor.
Be Clear and understandable. One of my favorite things to do is to take a subject that is rather abstract and difficult to grasp, and make it easy for someone to understand. There is a communal sense of accomplishment with helping others to improve their knowledge and understanding of a subject. There are few things in life more pleasing than to have an epiphany or sudden clarity of thought about something that has been a mystery to you. Give that kind of an experience to your visitors and they will be back!
Pay attention to Usability. Have you ever noticed that when people are driving on the highway, they become different a animal? Visitors to your web site are very much like people driving down the highway. Everything is in high speed and attention spans are short. People seldom “look”. They “glance” with their eyes darting until they find what they are looking for. So make sure people who arrive at a web page fine what they came for and find it fast. Give them what they are looking for in as simple a format as possible. Without getting ‘tacky’ make the obvious even more obvious! Reduce the number of mouse clicks required. Reduce clutter. Oh, and did I mention to give them what they came for?
The title of this post was “Some” Principles of Good Web Site Design. There are more, and they will discussed in other topics that are more specific. So bookmark this site or click on your favorite RSS feed and then read on or savor it for another visit.