I cut out an article in June 2001 about 100 ways to design better websites, and came across it recently. Although technology and the guidelines for building a better website (according to WC3) have changed dramatically in the past ten years, due to smartphones, tablets and just advances in the tools we use, the basic ideas are pretty much the same. I’ll list a few of them here:
- The message: What are you trying to say? You really have to focus on what your message is, and getting to the point.
- Define the Audience: Knowing the type of user will help you know how they will use the site.
- Use great images: That saying “a picture says a thousand words” is still so true.
- Balance: You want graphics, but not so many that it takes too long for the page to load.
- Graphics look darker on a Mac than a PC. Make sure you adjust somewhere in the middle so it works on both platforms.
- “Three clicks to information” rule was true then and it is still true now. If you make someone click numerous pages to get to what they wanted to see, you’ll lose them. I favour navigation where you can see and get to it with one click!
- Calls to action on every page. If you want someone to buy something on a page, you need to promote it on the appropriate page.
- Keep it short. People don’t read much on the internet, so if you want to say something, keep it as short as possible.
- Simple navigation names that are easily recognized.
- Consistency in navigation. Keep it the same on every page.
- Get your most technically challenged friend or colleague to navigate your site. You want to make it really easy, and not annoying.
- Poorly created animation can destroy the look of a website. It slows download time, and sometimes is just not necessary.
- Only use when animation is going to illustrate a point when words just won’t cut it. That means no dancing dogs running across the page, if dogs have nothing to do with your pages.
- This phrase sounds a bit icky, but it just means having content that keeps your visitors coming back. Either for your blog, for your reference material, or for other changing information.
- Most important is keeping the content up to date! People won’t come back if the content never changes.
- Create a mailing list of visitors (by asking them to join) so they will know when you have new content to share.
- Create something on your site that they have to come back to use. Like a forum, for example.
- Add a voting or polling system so people can vote on issues.
Music and sound effects
- My first words on this subject is “Don’t!” Most sites are not improved by sound and will upset people who come to your site at work (you can’t help where they look at it) when music is not part of the subject at all!.
- You must make sure any music on your site is professional and licensed. You can get into a lot of trouble just putting someone’s compositions on your site without asking permission.
- Make sure that if you do include music, you have an obvious and easy way to mute it.
- Embedding a file from Youtube or other video site, is a great way to bring people to your site.
- It’s good to have the best quality file you can manage.