Design An Effective Website

Step 01
Get to the point

The first page of your website will leave a lasting impression on the user. Make sure that you tell visitors what your website is about on the first page. Your website should state clearly its title, purpose, and what a user can expect to find on the site. It also helps to have contact information, such as physical and e-mail addresses, the name of the webmaster or a person to contact, and other relevant information so that the user knows how to get in touch in case of problems. A user is usually looking for information easy to access, read , and digest. If a visitor has to surf around through pages that just say "ENTER" or "CLICK HERE", chances are he or she will get really annoyed and leave, never to return.

Step 02
Pay Attention to design and layout before starting out

Rather than just throwing information onto a page, you need to give a great deal of thought and time in to planning a layout and design for the site. Your website needs to be easy to navigate; it should be logical, well organized and convenient. It should be split into logical sections, that follow a consistent theme.

You might also do well to consult a professional web-designer to make sure that your website looks attractive and appealing.

Step 03
Make it fast

The best website is one that is attractive, snappy and quick to download. Users will get extremely impatient if they have to spend longer than one minute waiting for a site to appear on screen. Other tricks include producing two versions of your website - one with a lot of graphics that takes time to download and another with fewer graphics and giving your users a choice between the two. You should always give users a choice of frames or no-frames, as frames take download time as well. Finally, always remember that straight HTML script is quicker to load than Java Scripting.

Step 04
Do not overdo things

Although it is tempting to add the latest features and capabilities to your webpage, remember that not everyone will be able to see them. Some features that are bit too advanced for the average Web user as yet include Java applets, ActiveX controls, Shockwave objects, tools that require plug-ins and specialized document formats.

Step 05
Keep it fresh

One way to ensure that website visitors come back is to present something new for them each time. A static page makes users bored. On the other hand, if users know the information will change on a regular basis, they will come by to see what is up. You can also completely redesign your site, which has the dual benefit of giving users something new and also enabling you to incorporate better, newer technology. Or, you can use dynamic content using cookies to track previous content. The other side of the coin is to avoid clich├ęs of websites, such as page counter, JavaScript text scrolling, excessive animated GIFs, and other cute graphics and icons, and page fade-ins.

Step 06
Make sure the website is well written

"Hi, welcome to my website. My name is Danish and id  just like to say that I think websites R kool!" Nothing is more annoying than the website that contains spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes, or is just plain badly written. These are eyesores on personal home pages, but absolute no-no's on commercial or professional websites. Just like you would want a graphic designer to make sure your page looks great, you want someone who is a good writer to make sure it reads well too.

Step 07
Use high quality graphics

To make website look good, graphics are the key. Some websites look better than others do, but that is because of subtle differences in the production and presentation of the graphics on the web page. To start with, use a high-end graphics package, suck as Adobe Photoshop, Core Photo-Paint or Microsoft Image Composer. Creating your own clip art library will make your site more original - why use a graphic or icon that has been seen on everyone else's website? You should also treat headlines as graphics, rather than as text.

step 08
Test your website

Try to test your pages to see how they look with: a different size screen, a text-only browser, a different color resolution and a different browser with a minimal feature set. Like we said before, this is because not everyone is going to have the same browser, the same resolution, or the same capabilities. Image maps, frames, JavaScript, Java applets and operating system-specific controls will all be affected by these parameters, so you should make sure to include alternative coding.

Step 09
Advertise your website

Okay, you have done it all - designed a killer webpage, put up neat graphics, included everything that needs to be on the website. What is next? You need to let people know that the site is out there. The best way to do this is twofold: register your website with all the major search engines: Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, and Altavista are a few examples. There are also search engines that are devoted to more specific websites, for example, business and technology search engines. The other half of advertising your website is to make sure that the URL is highly visible in places that other people will see it without having to look around for it: in your sig file for e-mail messages, on letterheads, business cards, posters, banners and other marketing material.

Step 10
Update your website regularly

Once your website is up and running, make sure that the information you provide is current and relevant to the site. There is nothing more annoying than going to a website and finding that the information is completely out of date. It helps if you put a date at the bottom of the website - something like "This site was last updated Aug 2010". Of course, then you have to be faithful with your updates, or else you'll get caught out quickly. If your site contains links to other pages, be sure that all those links are active and check them on a regular basis, rather than leading visitors to a "Error 404" page. If you decide to give your site an overhaul and it needs to go down, be sure to put a page that announces your site is under construction - it is only polite to let visitors know when they can expect the site to return to the Web.



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