Despite all the advances on the Internet, there are still quite a few poorly designed, annoying web sites out there. You know them when you see them. Fortunately, by following a few simple rules, you can ensure that your site will not be one that turns off its visitors.
- Keep your site light
This is a rule that has existed since the very beginning of the Internet. It is less of an issue today with all the broadband users on the web, but it is still true that the lighter your site is, the quicker it will download. Try to keep the file size of your pages less than 100k.
- Go easy on the eyes
Bright, flashy colors are tiring to watch and will just encourage people to leave your site quicker. So use them sparingly, and only when you want to attract attention to something of great importance, such as a sales headline.
- Break up text and create multiple pages
A webpage is not a newspaper, so don't cram in a ton of information on one page. A good rule of thumb is to put different topics on different pages. Creating multiple pages on multiple topics is also a great way to get more search engine traffic.
- Do not make horizontally long pages
Whatever you do, avoid creating pages that require a horizontal scroll bar. You can do this by keeping your tables under 770 -780 pixels in width. Otherwise, visitors will end up with a horizontal scroll bar on the bottom of their browser, which is disorienting since they already have a vertical scroll bar to contend with.
- Minimize bells and whistles
With the exception of entertainment sites (like movie websites), it is generally a bad idea to use a lot of bells, whistles, sounds, moving graphics, or anything else that seems to have a life of its own. Most of the time, a user goes on the Internet to obtain information. Any flashy junk you put on your site is just an annoying distraction that will encourage users to leave your site.
- Make navigation predictable
Navigation should be boring and predictable. A menu on the left hand side of the page is perfect, because that is where people expect to see links to other parts of the site. Make navigation consistent across all pages, and make sure it exists on each and every page of your site.
- Text should be easy to read
This means text that is not too big or small. It also means, 99% of the time, dark text on a light background. Black text on a white background is the easiest to read, and that's why you see it most often. Also, use sans-serif fonts like Arial or Verdana, because they are easier to read on computer screens.