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Website Design and Content

*Also See Web Design Terms

Rules For Effective Web Design

1. Don't use splash pages

2. Don't have broken links or images

3. Don't put files in PDF format only.

4. Don't require Special Browser Plugins.

5. Don't hide contact info if you are trying to sell something.

6. Have a link to your home page on every page.

7. Use optimized Images

8. Don't have under construction pages or coming soon pages ever.

9. Don't have your site start playing sound or midi files without the user requesting it.

10. Don't put so many images on a page that the page loads much too slowly.

11. Select a text color that is easily read against the background of your site.

12. Make sure all pages of your site link to content on your website and not on your hardrive.

13. Make sure all pages on your site link to the page under the appropriate directory of your site.

14. Don't use an excessive amount of popups and popunders.

15. Achieve a balance between content and advertising as far as the real estate it takes up on your site.

Design Programs

While there are a lot of website design programs that can be purchased. My personal favorite is Frontpage Express and its free. Frontpage Express originally came free with Internet Explorer 4. It now is no longer supported by Microsoft or even available from them. You can however download this easy to use free website design program from . Also you can download a demo of the more advanced updated version of Frontpage from Microsoft.

Website Navigation Methods

As a general rule the main page of a given section will contain links with descriptions to all of the subsections that are beneath the main page. After traveling from the main page to another page there are several methods one can deploy to aid navigation within the section without requiring the user to use their back button to the main page to select another page again. These methods include:

Via Navigation Bar at Top This means that links to the major sections of a site are found via a table at the top that runs across the top of all pages often near the site's logo
Via Navigation Bar at Bottom This means that links to the major sections of a site are found via a table or collection of text links that run across the bottom of all pages.
Via a Linked Hierachy such as Home>Subject>Subsubject This method is best used when a site has too many pages to be adequately broken up into a few major categories that can be linked to from each page. Instead with this method you can remind people of where they are in a given site relative to the category or theme a visitor is researching at a site. This method can be used along with a navigation bar or all by itself. A simple collection of text links that stands our near a site's logo is all that is necessary for this method to draw attention.
Via a sitemap or homepage link only This is the least preferred method of site navigation but it is better than having pages cut off from the rest of your site entirely as people will come in via search engines on pages you did not intend. Its nice for there to be an easy way for them to return to the site's homepage.
Via integrated subsubject links embedded within the content of pages This means that the links to travel from a home page to its subpages are found not organized in nice neat rows but instead embedded within paragraphs of content. Instead of having a structure such as


Topic1 Topic 2 Topic 3

You would have something such as:


This site has much in the way of topic 1 which is not nearly as popular as topic 2 while topic 3 remains popular too.

Use of Tables

In website design tables can allow one to break up content into a format that is more easily viewable. Popular uses of tables include to separate graphics from text and to allow differing subtopics to be more distinct by putting them in their own table with their own border around them.

Image Sizes, Compressions, and File Types Used

Its important to use compressed image formats when at all possible to allow for faster loading webpages. For pictures involving more than a few colors JPEG format is the most efficient format. For images involving only a few colors such as one would find in icons and buttons GIF format might be more efficient. If an image is larger than it needs to be displayed on a webpage it should be resized to further reduce its file size. To compress jpegs as efficiently as possible a program like Jpeg Optimizer should be used. Bitmap format should be avoided in almost all instances unless you wish to have a super high quality image for download so people can print them out at magazine quality.

Use of FTP programs, Counters, Tracking Tools, and Log Files

To upload pages to a webserver you are going to need an FTP client. Popular FTP cliens include WS_FTP and Leap FTP, for a list of several FTP clients check out the ODP's category on the topic. To analyze one's log files to determine traffic patterns software such as Webtrends allows one to do this. Other popular remotely hosted services that provide detailed site stats include Hitbox, and Nedstats. Both Hitbox and Nedstats provide a basic free service in addition to a more detailed fee based service.

Message Boards, Polls, Quizes and Interactive Elements

Message boards are by far the most popular interactive element to add to a website. With messageboards you can choose to host your message board remotely via some free message board service but that will mean loads of uncapped popups for your visitors most likely. However the most popular method of incorporating message boards into your site is to use a purchased software program which works with your webhosting company. The two most popular message board programs are Vbulletin and UBB with Vbulletin being the most popular message board software. Quizes polls, and other interactive elements can also be handled via off the shelf software from companies such as BuildACommunity.