10 Rules For A Good Website
source: www.nowstores.com (March 2000)
The 10 rules are:
When creating a website, there
are ten main elements to be considered and each contributes to the impact and
success of your site.
Your home page is your billboard
or store front. It creates an immediate impression on visitors to your
site. It should look:
Strive to "underwhelm"
rather than overwhelm. Too many flashing lights, colors, drop-down boxes,
graphics etc. will be distracting. It's like those stores that play loud,
frenetic music... your heart rate
rises, your stress levels go up and you just want to get out... fast!
Whether you have a business site
or a personal page, you have to give people a reason to stay on your site.
Human nature tends to think... "what's in it for me?"
That doesn't mean that you have
to give away free programs, tickets or newsletters. It does mean that you
have to offer something. That "something" could be:
If you do have a business site,
you need to give information about your product or service that is:
We all know that speed is the key
to keeping visitors. It's easy to catch yourself becoming impatient because it's
taking 20 or 30 seconds to connect to a site. Then you stop and think about the
fact that here you are, sitting in your office on the east coast of the United
States, connecting to a site in the north of England,
on the west coast of the US, in Canada,
or one of the dozens of other places. It's amazing how quickly we become
accustomed to technology.
However, we DO get impatient if
it takes us too long to make contact... so you must ensure that your home page
at least, loads as quickly as possible. That means no big, flash graphics.
Keep reminding yourself that your
first page is like a billboard. When driving your car, you don't have time to
read detailed descriptions, or admire intricate pictures on billboards. The
signs flash past you and have to make an immediate impression.
Your web visitors are 'flashing
past' as well, so keep your front page simple and fast.
There are numerous articles on
the net about how to improve speed. Take the time to check them out and
then discard anything that slows down your home page too much.
The graphics and lay-out of your
home page contribute to that first impression. Think about what image your
site is trying to convey and make sure everything on your site contributes
something towards that overall image.
If you have a serious business
site, you don't want garish cartoons on your front page. But if you have a
games site, then cartoons can be an integral part of the image.
Graphics are what eat up the
loading time of your site. A rough rule of thumb to determine good loading time
for a page is to keep the entire page around 30K.
Images should be between 6K and
8K. Each additional 2K adds approximately one second to loading time.
If in doubt, right click the
image and then click on "Properties" to get the size of the image.
Color is also an important part
of your site; colors have different effects on our emotions:
Red and orange excite the senses
and increase heartbeat
Consider the effect you want to
create and choose a color that is appropriate.
When reading Western texts, the
eye travels from the top left of the page, across and then down to the bottom
right. Remember this when you're placing graphics on your page.
Any graphic which has a
directional aspect should be placed to point the eye towards the most important
section of the page. If you have a picture of a bird on the top left corner of
your page, make sure it is facing inward and that its beak is leading the eye to
the center of the page, not away from it.
The same applies to all graphics:
This is also why you should place
your navigation bars down the left or right side of your page - it keeps them
constantly in the visitor's field of vision.
This doesn't refer to the words
you use (we'll look at them in detail later) --but to the way the words look on
Going back to the concept of the
billboard, your words need to stand out on your page -- you need to
surround them with plenty of white space.
Think over some of the sites
you've visited. Dark backgrounds make you feel as if you're in a small
space and also have a depressing effect on your mood.
Certain colored backgrounds make
it very difficult to read the text; purples, orange tonings and reds dazzle the
The color of your text is just as
important--bear in mind that different browsers read colors differently--what
looks great on your browser could well be invisible on another!
Take a lesson from the newspapers
and divide your text into columns for easier (and quicker) reading--even two
columns are better than one slab of text that covers the entire width of the
Another element that contributes
to text readability is the font you choose. Plain fonts (Arial, Times New Roman,
Garamond and Courier) are the easiest to read. Fancy fonts are fine for
headings, but not for full pages (imagine trying to read a whole page in Gothic,
Script, Westminster, or Cloister). Your eyes would soon tire of the effort
involved and you'd be reaching for the back button!
You have to make your page as
easy for your visitors to read as is humanly possible and this means breaking it
up into little 'chunks' for them. We've already looked at the need for columns,
(which divide the page vertically); you also need to divide your page
horizontally, through the use of headings and sub-headings.
When you were at school, your
teachers told you to use headings in your notes -- apply the same principles to
your web pages. Look for the key points on each page and write a short statement
that summarizes each point -- this is your heading.
Read through each section and see
if it can be further divided into smaller points. Write a summary of these
sub-sections and these are your sub-headings.
Select a font for all your
headings and sub-headings (and stick to it). It's not necessary to have a
different font for headings (just go up one size for headings, and then use bold
on all headings and sub-headings).
This way it's easy to recognize
which is a heading (large and bold) and which is a sub-heading (same size but
The point of this is to make it
easy for your visitors to glance at your page and to take in all the key points.
If what they see interests them, they'll stay and keep reading -- so it goes
without saying that your headings should be written with care!
To draw attention to other
important points, you can also highlight them by putting a whole sentence in
bold or a different color (or both). However, take care with the colors you
select: some are quite difficult to read -- even against a white background.
Your main navigation bar should
run down the left or right side of your page, for two reasons:
On a long page it's also a good
idea to have a brief navigation bar along the bottom of the page (just home |
top of page will suffice).
When you've found a system you're
happy with, use it on every page so that your visitors know where to look for
make a blank page which has your page layout (columns), any logos or
standardized graphics, alt tags and navigation bars already built in. Call this
'blank" and then when you make a new page, you have everything already set
up and just have to enter the content, html tags and then save it as "whatever.htm".
If your site is a business site,
one of the most important things you have to do is to ensure that your potential
customers feel confident dealing with you. On the web, you do this by telling
people exactly what you're doing to safeguard their interests -- in particular,
how you're protecting their privacy. It's worth having a separate page which
sets out, in detail, your policy towards their email addresses; how you accept
orders; how you gather information; who has access to this information; how you
use information gathered from children and so on.
Visitors also like to know that
real people have used your products or services, so it's worth asking your
satisfied customers if you can quote any positive comments they've made about
you. Don't be afraid to ask for testimonials -- we all like to know that our
opinions are valued.
Set up a separate page for your
testimonials and offer to include links to your customers' pages in return for
using their comments. This is one of those "win-win" situations!
Now we come to the most important
element. If this part is wrong, the rest of your efforts are largely wasted. How
many times have you been impressed by a site's initial appearance, only to be
disappointed by poor spelling, careless grammar and punctuation?
It reflects badly on the site
owner and indicates that whoever is responsible for this page is sloppy,
careless, lazy, unprofessional or all of the above! Would you entrust any of
your hard-earned money to someone who doesn't even care enough to check the
expression of his/her own site?
There are places that will assist
you with any or all of these steps. Don't spoil all your hard work by skipping
this one, vital step!