The Basics Of Effective Web Site Design
This may sound strange but it is a major downfall for many web sites. When developing a mainstream web site there is a tendency to forget that many different visitors with different needs, browser preferences, connection speeds, and monitor resolutions will visit the web site.
Getting the visitors to your web site is only part of the battle. The lack of traffic has kept many webmasters and site owners awake at night and to make sure you have a steady stream of visitors to any web site takes diligence or a lot of money to spend on Search Engine Optimization specialists and online/off-line advertising. Nevertheless, web site traffic means nothing if your visitors cannot use your web site once they visit it. It is the same as going to a store that is out of business.
The majority of visitors will not wait for your pages to load. Instead they will just find another web site to visit; your web pages must be as fast as humanly possible at all times. Creating slow loading pages is only smart if your intent is to lose visitors.
If your web developer designed your pages for viewing in only one of the major browsers, you need to correct that situation. There is more than one web browser being used online. Your web sites success or failure depends on your visitors and the impact your web site has on them. If you are selling products, services, or your web site is advertisement for your business, it has to be seen and the content needs to be read. If your web pages cannot be accessed those visitors will leave.
That is why you have invested money developing a web site and putting it online. If this were your off-line business, would you limit the number of customers you would do business with?
You are, in essence, doing that very same thing. Every visitor to your web site is a potential customer; but not if they are using a browser that your site is not designed for.
"This site best viewed with (you choose) at a screen resolution of (again your choice)" and some even tell you the color depth. Then to be considerate enough to also place hyperlinks so the people that do not use that specific browser can easily download it so that they may have the privilege to access the web site.
Do you really think visitors to your web site are going to download a 20 megabyte (or more) file, install it, make adjustments to their color depth and screen resolution, then reboot their system just to view your web site?
The major argument in designing for a specific browser is that browser X is only being used by lets say 13% of the surfing community.
What is 13% of 250-300 million web surfers?
If you are selling or promoting your business online, can you afford to let that 13% surf away?
Java applets are definitely not a good choice. Applets can run slower and have a tendency to crash certain browsers, which can also crash a users machine. Do you think you will have repeat visits from these users?
Your navigation structure should speak for itself; do not have your visitors trying to figure how to navigate from page to page. No visitor should have to use ESP or download an instruction manual in order to use your web sites navigation. Just because you know how to use it or you know what all of those symbols mean does not mean that everyone else will know too.
Have your web site navigation structured so the visitor can easily access what they want. If a visitor cannot access a specific item of information or product in 3 clicks or less, you may lose that visitor out of frustration. If the visitor gets lost within your site because of a poor navigation structure or cannot find what they are looking for they will leave your web site.
That is it! Nothing more to discuss, never use them!
Do you really need to know why?
Just because you like it does not mean that everyone else will also like it. If you must use music, then give the visitor the choice to listen to it or not.
When building your web site you have to leave all personal preferences out of it. You are creating your web site for the masses so your web site must be designed with the masses in mind.
New web site owners see certain design elements on other web sites that they like so when they hire a web designer to create their site, they want these same design elements incorporated into their web site as well.
A knowledgeable web designer will try to steer them in the right direction; away from the things that could hurt the success of their web site. There are also the designers that are not knowledgeable in the areas of building functioning web sites and just go along with the owners' wishes. What is bad about this is that personal preferences are involved in the creation of a medium that needs to have usability for all.
The owner pays for it twice, they pay for the web site itself and then pay again when their visitors leave that same web site. Of course, the users that visit the web site pay for it as well because there is another web site online that is not suitable for the masses.
The major issues that make visitors not enjoy their stay at a web site or revisit that web site are pop up ads/windows, difficulty in finding specific products or information, slow page downloads, confusion once inside of the site, or congested web pages (too much going on all at once "remember white space is your friend").
There are many different types of Internet users, all with different levels of skill and equipment using the Internet. There are also Internet users that have special needs; are your web pages designed so they may access them?
When creating a web site, you need to take all of this into account or you may design your visitors right out of your web site.
The visitor is king; just like the saying "the customer is always right."
The visitor will make or break your online presence. You need to make sure you design your web site for the visitors and try to leave personal preferences out of it.