The 10 Commandments of Web Design

Here are some useful tips for a new or experienced webmaster. Perhaps the 10 commandments for SEO is next?

Thou Shalt Have Purpose:

Clearly define the site’s purpose and ensure all content, graphics, and text tightly focus on that purpose. Discard all extraneous or distracting material and regularly revisit your site to ensure all changes fit with the site’s primary purpose.

Thou Shalt Be Lightweight:

Use only fast-loading graphics and other elements. If you must use large graphics use thumbnails and image slicing to diminish the size of every file to lessen load times. Though the majority of surfers now carry high-speed access, avoid any content that requires the user to download special, non-standard “plug-ins” to view your content.

Thou Shalt Load Fast:

Each and every entry page on your site should weigh in under 50-100KB total, including graphics and navigation. Interior pages can run larger, but the “front doors” to your site should not make surfers wait long to start interacting with the site.

Thou Shalt Not Use False Code:

You should only use html, PHP or ASP to create your web pages. Never use java, xml, dhtml or other forms of code that require a surfer to keep their browser set up “correctly” to accommodate your page. Unless you sell to “geeks” and “techno-nerds,” this will only lose you visitors and won’t make you any friends.

Thou Shalt Respect the Search Engines:

If you want search engine traffic use whole web pages that don’t incorporate frames or large amounts of code unrelated to your content. Also, if you want search traffic, actively cultivate linking relationships with related sites and operate a blog.

Love Thy Surfers and Visitors:

Design for “last year’s” technology so surfers using older computers and slower connections can download your content and use your site quickly and easily. Designing for the “bleeding edge” will only cut into your own profits.

Thou Shalt Not Annoy:

Use only stationary text and graphical layout elements. No Scrolling text, marquees, or large Flash animations of any kind, including those annoying, full-page Flash home pages that say “Skip Intro.” This “eye candy” rarely adds to a site’s main purpose and often causes your visitors to miss something or leave in frustration.

Thou Shalt Not Scroll Sideways:

Design your pages so they never force a visitor to scroll left or right no matter what the resolution settings on their monitor. Sites that read “best viewed at 1024 x 768” really say “look at it my way because I don’t care about your preferences or limitations.”

Thou Shalt Stay Consistent:

Include a standard navigational structure on every page. Though it may mean a serious challenge for the designer, users should only need to click once to find every major section of a site. This includes using standard link colors in all text links. Blue: hyperlink; Purple: visited hyperlink; Red: active hyperlink.

Thou Shalt Cultivate Subscribers:

Nothing floods your website with targeted traffic like sending an email message to your loyal subscriber base. Whether for a new product launch, affiliate product endorsement, or holiday sale, that list represents your most valuable online business asset. Make sure your website actively cultivates subscribers by giving them multiple opportunities to sign up and a compelling reason or incentive to do so. Then, make it worth their while to pay attention to you on a regular basis.