Website Design Best Practices

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Good website design can be defined as giving your visitors a logical way to navigate through your site so they can easily find the objects or information they are looking for without being distracted and confusing them.
That's a tall order and unfortunately, few websites fit the mold, however if you want to design a website that gets traffic, sales and better ranking, pay special attention to these few but powerful website design best practices.
They'll not only benefit your human visitors but if done correctly, they will help your search engine ranking as well.
1.
Use Clear & Quick Navigation
Typically a site's navigation will be either down the left or right hand side of your website.
Whatever side you choose is not important, it's really more about keeping your navigation consistent on every page of your site.
Also keep in mind that most of your visitors won't initially land on your home page, so to help them pick up your navigation wherever they are, have your subjects and categories organized logically.
Including a link back to your home page on every page of your site will also help visitors should they get lost.
I like to use breadcrumb trails.
This is a row of links, usually displayed at the top of your page that show your visitors what page they are on and where they just came from, it also demonstrates how your site is organized.
Not all website software has this feature but if you have it I recommend using it.
2.
Use a Clean Page Format
Give your page a clean, easy to read format by using lots of white space and resisting the temptation to fill every nook and cranny.
Actually the more white space the better.
Start by placing your site's title at the top of your page using your best keyword phrase.
Next, expand on your main title with a subtitle, again using your best keywords.
Leave adequate space between each section.
Don't cram a lot of pictures and ads.
If you have an ad, keep it off to the side or subtly intersperse it between your text.
You don't want to confuse or distract your visitor.
Keep your paragraphs small, 2-3 sentences each and get to the point quickly.
3.
Interlink Your Related Pages
Link your category and sub-category pages.
For example if you have a 'cameras' category with sub categories that include 'digital cameras', 'video cameras', 'waterproof cameras', include text links that cross-link each of these pages.
This not only helps your readers, it helps the search engines navigate logically through your site.
4.
Keep Links in Blue
This is certainly not a hard and fast rule but most of us expect a link to be underlined and in blue so it makes sense to stick with what's consistent and recognizable for people.
Chances are links in another color or links not underlined will be recognized as links however why take the chance on possibly missing out on clicks? 5.
Use Clear Titles for Buttons & links
Title your links appropriately and don't be misleading with your link names.
For example, if you have a link to sports equipment don't label it 'Great Outdoors', call it 'Sports Equipment'.
If you have a link to 'cameras' don't label the link 'Hotshots', label it 'Cameras'.
You don't want to waste your viewer's time by having them figure things out.
Be clear about where the link is taking them.
6.
Include a Search Box
Just in case a visitor can't find what they are looking for you could save them from hitting the back button by having a search box that they can use to quickly find what they need.
Place the search box on each page of your site, it will save them time and frustration and it will help you serve them better.
7.
Minimize Animation & Flashing Banners
Don't be tempted to grab attention with flashy objects or wild animation, it distracts your visitor but it also takes away from your content as well as slow down your page load time.
You're much better off grabbing attention with a catchy headline or text phrase, but also animation and flashing banners scream ads for many people so they will most likely just ignore them or find them annoying.
8.
Focus on the 'YOU', not the 'ME'
Make it obviously clear to your readers that you are there for them.
What can you do for your reader? What benefits can you offer? How can you make their business more profitable or their life better or easier? Request feedback on what they need or want to know.
9.
Include an 'About Me' Page
Your site visitors want to know about who's behind curtain, so to speak, so having an 'about me' page gives them a personal glimpse into who you are and what you are about.
A well written about me page will create trust and let your visitors know that you are genuine and serious about your business.
10.
Ensure Your Pages Load Fast
I remember reading that you can lose about 1/3 of your visitors if your page takes 8 seconds or longer to load.
If viewers have to wait for a page to load they'll use the back button.
Here's a link that will tell you how fast your pages load: http://www.
1-hit.
com/all-in-one/tool.
loading-time-checker.
htm
11.
Use a Site Map
A site map will give visitors a "guide" on viewing your site and also eliminate confusion, especially with larger sites.
It's a road map for your visitors to follow while they are on your site.
Site maps can also increase rankings and placement within the Search Engines.
12.
Include a 'Terms of Use' Link
With the legal requirements placed on internet business owners today I like to include a 'terms of use' link that includes privacy information, disclaimers, disclosures and any other legal information required of your website.
This keeps all the legal information contained on one page for easy access.
Source...
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