Intro

A website is designed to communicate in some way, shape, or form. If it fails to do so then it has failed in its purpose. There are millions of ways to convey messages and andvertising through use of a web page so first and foremost be sure that your ideas are your own so you dont get caught in a patent infringement litigation.

Here are 4 key elements to keep on the table as you develop your next site – or if you are in the market for a new site make sure your website abides by these common rules.

1. Readability

The ability to read a website’s content is probably the most important aspect of the desing process. Many designers fail in this regards with poor text contrasting. It’s also a good idea to stay away from text that is too colorful or contrasty as it may tire the reader’s eyes.

Font selection is the key to this first element. Fancy and bold fonts are a good choice for site headings but refrain from use within the body. Also be sure that your body text flows properly from left to right or right to left and always make use of proper whitespace. Whitespace provides a pleasent gaps between important sections of text and allows readers to properly skim the page while ingesting the important elements.

Here are some good examples of proper font usage:

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As you can see here we use nice bold and fancy fonts for the headings but leave the body text clean and readible with the proper contrast even against a colorful and uneven background.

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Here we have a subtle change in headings but excellent use of whitespace and stark white boxes as the background for the body text.

2. Friendly Navigation

Navigation is a key element for both readers and search engine bots. What form of navigation to use depends highly on the site map complexity. Sites with deep linking and lots of content often gain from a sidebar menu with an expanding tree. Horizontal menus are quite useful as well and take up less content realestate. The downfall in a complex environment is the user has to continuously hover over the menu items to expand whereas a sidebar can generally let the user see ALL of the pages and navigation tree in one glance.

There are many options for menus nowadays but the 2 main tips to remember are refrain from Flash based menus and menus with links that are contained within a javascript file. Search engine bots rarely crawl in to these items so unless you have a proper sitemap submitted they will generally miss all your sub-pages. Another reason for this is due to lack of Flash support on many browsers which will result in a page with no menu. If a Flash menu is a must, be sure to add html anchor links at the footer of the page to allow some form of navigation in these cases.

Here is a great link from Tripwire with some splendid jQuery menus: 40 jQuery scripts

Check out some of Amortech’s great menu usage:

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3. Site Speed

Nobody likes a slow website so be sure that your site is hosted by a good firm that provides proper bandwidth. Also be sure that your graphics are well optimized, js and css files are minified if not cached and refrain from overuse of jquery and complex scripts.  Always make use of the plethora of free tools to measure and improve the load time. It’s amazing to see what minor tweaks will increase your load times and its a proven fact that not only will a faster site be more appealing to readers but search engines rank based on this factor as well.

4. Sitcky Icky

The stickier the site the better, as you give users a reason to come back and/or stay on the site. Well written content is the best way to achieve this. The cosmetics will draw thier immediate attention but you want users to come back so they need the website to feel useful and informative. Keeping your site up to date with news and new information in a manner that is well presented will assure your site of constant repeat traffic.

Conclusion

By focusing on these key elements as you prototype, design and deploy you will assure yourself of an efficient and effective website.

Amortech is a Calgary web design firm that abides by these rules so feel free to contact us for your next web design project

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Author amortech

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