Creating a website from scratch is both exciting and frightening! You might not be sure how to plan your site or who to ask to help you. You may not even know how much it costs to design and operate a website. The article below is a collection of tips that will cover some of the design basics so that you can start today.
Don’t neglect cascading style sheets. Using a style sheet makes it easy to give all pages of your site the same look and feel. It also reduces the file size of your pages, as the CSS file can be accessed once on the server and then from the user’s local cache thereafter.
Avoid using so-called “mystery meat navigation”. This involves using unlabeled images or other elements for the site’s navigation. In many cases, the visitor has to mouse over the buttons to even see what they do. Navigation is best kept simple. Use text links across the top or along the left side of the page.
Avoid creating user interface (UI) controls that mislead your visitors. These controls include elements, widgets and more that create an interactive experience, such as a link, drop-down list or button. You do not want to make visitors think that clicking on an underlined word or phrase for example, will lead to a new page if it is not actually linked to something else. When your visitors have expectations of something working a certain way and it does not, they are more likely to assume there is something wrong with your site and leave.
A newsletter can help you to get more repeat visitors to you website. When you allow visitors to subscribe to your website’s newsletter for updates, they will be more likely to come back to your site. Place a signup form on your site in a sidebar, while maintaining a list of everyone who signs up. You should then only send your newsletter to people who have requested it, or individuals could sue you for unsolicited emails.
You should always put in the effort to make a customized error page for your site; this page should include a basic sitemap that links users to the major sections of your website. This ensures that if visitors follow a bad link or spell your URL wrong, they will be able to find what they are looking for.
Be sure your website works both with and without the “www” prefix. Some people will type this in before they head to your site as a force of habit, and some may not. You should make sure that customers will be directed to your site either way, or you may have some confused people on your hands.
You may be feeling ready to try your own hand at website design at this point. You are ready to set a budget, look for more good advice, and start making notes on what you want out of your site. You’ll see that designing a website that you can be proud of IS possible – so get to it!