by Daniel Deane
There are certain things that make a web page easy to navigate and still others that will chase away visitors. Below are some tips indicating elements that should be in place in every web page in your site.
1. IDENTIFICATION - Who are you? Why do you have a web page and why should they return or do business with you? These are questions that should be answered on your title page and perhaps included in some form in every page on your site. A simple way of contacting you should be in place. One example of this is an invitation at the bottom of each page, to email comments to you, with a link that activates the email portion of the browser.
2. CONTENT DESIGN The download period is your most vulnerable time on your web page. Keep your index page simple.
Make sure you have text enough in the top of the page to give the visitor something to read while your graphics are loading. Keep graphics to a minimum. Use short paragraphs and a lot of room for the eye to rest. A designer or advertiser calls this "White Space." "White Space" is VERY IMPORTANT. It can make or break any advertising space. Too little makes a document seem too busy. Make sure your text margins can float if your skill or HTML editor can manage it. Include graphics that are in harmony with the rest of the page and the message that you want to present. Make sure your background and your text can be seen by persons who are colorblind. AND, if you are colorblind make sure someone else who is not colorblind previews your work before uploading it.
Never place a white text on light background or dark text on a dark background. That is an immediate turnoff. It can make your visitor very irritated at the page designer. It may be just the thing to motivate them to look elsewhere for information and that elsewhere may not be on your site!
- Handicap Accessibility.
If possible, make your site determine if the visitor browser supports frames. If it does not, you should have an alternate page(s) with the information in large type, text only, for persons who are blind or have other sight problems and are visiting your site with a text reader machine. You may include an image in between paragraphs if it is fully described. If you do not want to do this for some reason the graphics should be at the end of the document with a warning that they are there and that this is the end of the text. Again provide your name, business name, phone number, address, and email address on this page if you want them to have it.
One last thing on the text only page. . . . Extra borders and === or -0=-=-= or the like sound like the text machine or the software has hung up like an old record player. Please do not use them.
3. SITE MAP or INDEX is necessary on every page. Link every page in some way to every other page in your site. Failing that, use a frames format and make sure that you preserve your margins on all sides of the frames. Place your site map in the right frame. I suggest that you provide a way for the person to determine where they just came from and a helper to get them back to the very last page presentation they visited on your site. The fewer times a visitor needs the back button on their browser, the less likely they will leave your site till they have seen it all.
4. It is not advisable to provide invitations to leave your site on the top of your index page. If you advertise or provide links to another site, you might want to make sure there is a way for a visitor who left your site to return from THAT link. This is called a reciprocal link. You do not need to hide your links. Just do not leave invitations to leave where a person is really tempted to do so.
5. When making lists with graphical bullets (such as picture of a globe, a diamond or ball), if possible make them into radio buttons or links to the area in your web page that illustrates your point. When using graphics, remember that many people will click on a graphic for a description, or expansion of the information that picture represents. Some websites use this to their advantage to create pleasant surprises for their visitor. Some visitors search for those surprises. Perhaps you should consider providing those surprises.
6. The more often you change your web page, the more often a person may visit. There are services of which you may subscribe that informs the subscribers when a member site has changed.
7. You may also create a guest register. Many people will sign the guest register, thus providing you leads for future activities. You may also notify the resulting mailing list when your web page has changed. If you are so inclined, a newsletter will provide you with a further opportunity to present your views or products.
8. Once you have created your site, view it with as many browsers as you can. Read your site with an IBM and a Macintosh. I have been told that 62% of all web sites are created on a Mac and about 35% of the readers are on Macs.
9. (Personal Observation) If you are friendly to a Mac User, you have a great chance to gain his loyalty. He may even advertise your site to other Mac Users. If you want a lot of positive hits on your page, create reasons for a Macintosh user to visit and ask for his referral to your page.
These are only nine of the many suggestions I have made when visiting a web site. I visit only 20 minutes. That is as long as I expect any visitor to remain interested in any site. If they need the bottom scroll bar to read your text, I expect them to leave immediately. Your visitor is your guest. Do not make them work to enjoy your site.