Today I wanted to show off my rules for designing and building successful website. The following article explains my approach to successful website design. These are the basic ingredients to create a website. It seems might be long but you can skip to whatever section you like and if you are seriously considering a web site; don't skip "The Rules." Let’s get started!
First of all define your site purpose and develop a marketing strategy. Decide your target audience. This step dictates how the site will be laid out and presented to potential clients. This step also defines how to make the site attractive to the search engines. Provide useful content that’s relevant to the searcher for the search terms you are trying to target. Content is king: to be strong, you'll need to provide more than your competition. Design a user-friendly website. Layout the site in a way that users are already habituated to. Put the navigation where they expect to find it. Keep it simple and clean. Keep the subpages consistent throughout website. People visit websites for information instead of reading line by line, so make heading and break long paragraphs. Don’t surprise your visitors instead make their visit easy and rewarding. Design a website that speaks about the product you're marketing. First impression is last impression; hire a professional graphic designer for better aesthetics. A recent study discovered that people make up their mind about a site in just eight tenths of a second. Make it faster. Although broadband has improved drastically but still light weight websites have edge. According to Google, most users become annoyed after just three seconds. Other studies show that after 15 seconds you've lost almost 100% of your visitors! There’s no reason why your main home page should take longer than 10 seconds to completely load on the average connection with a clean browser cache.. Remember that 'back button' is always there, and after 10 seconds, visitors start to use it. Years after years study study confirms this simple fact: People want information from the Internet faster and that’s easy to find.
With the application of these design rules you can expect increased traffic. While having traffic is necessary to success, you still won't be able to sell snow cones to Eskimos. If you have a real product with a good market the reward can be impressive. These design rules are time proven and you should not skip any of them if you want results. If you own a business you should expect your site to become your most cost effective form of advertising. Site maintenance is cheaper than most forms of advertising, and although your initial set-up may seem expensive if done right, it will get tremendous results.
Real life choices:
These design practices are not new. You can find article after article expressing more or less same principals. They are just the basics and you could do more. Depending on your goals and expectations they could also be ignored all together. An example of this would be an artist who just wants an online portfolio. My feeling is that even if all you want is a simple web presence, taking a few steps to gain a greater audience is worth the effort. If you are trying to make sales then by all means, analyze the market and optimize your site to rank better for your products. Even the best design work will not work unless you give the search engines what they are looking for.
Having a web site and making it productive depends on getting your pages to rank well with the major search engines. There are many search engines but for the most part, you only need to concern with the top three Goggle, Yahoo and Bing. They cover about 80% of the search market. Search engines like Goggle (48% of all web searches) have recently become particularly picky about what makes a site worthy of a high ranking. Most new sites are now believed to be “sand-boxed” off the first few pages until they have real content and have been around longer than a year. There are also all kinds of rules to follow so you don’t get de-ranked or worse, de-listed. To make matters worse, the rules change and differ from one search engine to the next. To get and keep a top slot requires that you analyze the competition and exploit their weaknesses. It also requires interlinking or cross-linking with other sites, but even the impact and method of this practice is old now and no longer effective as before. Ranking is a hidden endeavor. It takes study and analysis to pin it down. It requires patience and regular analysis to reach and keep a top position. There are tools that make this easier and rest assured. This is certain: People choose in the top five search results most of the time and only about ten percent bother to click to the second page. Therefore, if your page is located on the third page for your target keywords, some say you don't even exist. Without high search listings, no matter how good your product or site is you won't generate the visits that translate into sales.
Form & function
Additionally make sure your site is built using valid markup and latest technology. The World Wide Web Conference (the people who set the standards for the web) has been encouraging designers to comply with their specifications. With the push towards standards compliance comes the risk that substandard and depreciated design techniques may have a dark future. Invalid markup causes unpredictable results on different devices and browsers. Because browser manufacturers use the standards to develop their software standards compliant sites are far more universal and 'future proof'. We are also being asked to bring our sites into a form that separates the style from the content. It means separating the look of the site from the information on the page. This method preserves the original layout of the document so its elements remain intact, semantically speaking. A blind person using a screen reader can understand a page designed in this manner because it reads and is ordered just like any other document. This is now standard at all federal and most states public web sites. Another benefit of this design technique is that it is easier to maintain. Changes can be made site-wide with a simple change to one file only. That translates into lower site maintenance costs. It is also more efficient, resulting in quicker page-loads. Since it doesn't rely on java scripting (many people block this feature for security reasons) your site will function correctly for your 'cautious' users as well. While obsolete design practices and invalid markup make getting at the real text content on the page confusing or impossible for the disabled, it also can place keywords you are trying to target further down the page. This negatively affects search rank and might make it impossible for search engines to even index your pages correctly at all. Using valid markup web sites will work even when new browsers come out. In addition, all new sites are made to conform to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards and are easy for people with disabilities. It is a common courtesy that has definite benefits.
The goal is to build sites that look sharper, load faster, are simple to navigate, validate, are user friendly with disabilities and most importantly bring targeted visitors to you. If you want a productive web site then a holistic design approach is ultimate option.