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Four Critical Web Design Rules
By Nicholas LaPolla - 2007-08-29 Page:  1 2

Simplify Navigation

2. Simplify Navigation

The menus and links make up the navigation that the visitor uses to get from page to page in a site. Always plan a site around how people will get from page to page. A visitor to your site should be able to get to what they want within three clicks of their mouse.

Multiple navigation points makes it easy to find things. Repeat the top menu and at the bottom. Also create a left or right menu.

Using links within your text to other areas on your site. You can create links so that they are good for search engine optimization (SEO). There are generally two ways to create links within your text:

  1. The wrong way: "For search engine optimization techniques, click here."

  2. The right way: "Good techniques for search engine optimization are important to use."


Using link text (anchor text) that describes what the link is about is the best way. Search engine web crawlers (programs that automatically index the contents of websites) visit your site, they "read" links. Spiders can index descriptive links into a subject or keyword category. Spiders have nothing to work with when reading a "click here" until it reaches the linked page.

This is Cross Linking - use it as much as possible when it makes sense to do so when writing your content.

3. Consistent Design

At most, one or two layouts should be used in your site design. As a reader browses your site, they should be able to get used to looking in the same place for your navigation, for your sub-navigation and for your content. That's all there is to say about that.

4. Lower Page Weight is Better

Page weight is the total size of a page on your site in bytes - code, text and images. Your site's page weight makes a big difference to your viewers. Lighter page weight is better for your readers because the page will download faster. The faster a page downloads, the faster they will get to the content.

What is Means to be Light

  • No large images.

  • Fewer images are better.

  • Optimize images for the web at no more than 72 dpi

  • Use as small an image dimension as possible for the given design.

  • Use a table td bgcolor attribute or a background-color style attribute for solid color backgrounds.

  • Make gradients horizontal or vertical (not diagonal) so that you can use a small image "strip" and repeat it.


How "Heavy" Should a Web Page be?

Certain studies show that 64K is a good maximum webpage size. 64K is a maximum, however it is still, in my opinion, really big! The smaller the page, the better. 25K is good, 15K is even better. There is a balance between design and function. It is a good idea to focus more on function.

Try putting pages on your web host server as you build your site so you can test it as you go. For pages online, you can test the page weight at www.quasarcr.com/pageweight/ to be sure you are on track.

Ways to make pages lighter:

  • Use linked style sheets

  • Use DIVs instead of TABLEs where possible

  • Use simple repeating backgrounds for effect


Summary

Visitors to your website should be able to find what they are looking for within about three clicks. Search engines should be able to navigate easily through your site. Making a site easy to read with consistent page design, and easy to navigate will make it easy to find information. When people can find information, they are more likely to refer your site or link to it - which is exactly what you want to encourage. You will be on the way to building a readable and hopefully successful website that is loved by search engines if you follow these principals.

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