by Dr. Robert Sullivan
The Internet is exploding and a lot of companies are thinking about placing a "home page" on the World Wide Web. For maximum impact and user friendliness, keep the following guidelines in mind when designing your web presence.
- LOADING TIME. Users will not wait. You have about 10-seconds to catch and keep a visitor. Your home page should load quickly. Ensure this by keeping graphics small and backgrounds simple and by using height and width tags with every graphic. The height/width tags will force the text to load first giving the user something to read while the graphics load. It is also a good idea to use ALT tags with the graphic tag so that the graphic is identified to the user while it loads.
- BROWSER FRIENDLINESS. There are many different browsers in use. Ensure your home page is friendly to all of them. Do this by keeping your page simple and if you are using frames, tables, image maps and other enhancements, ensure you have an alternate page available for browsers that cannot display the enhancements.
- ORGANIZED MESSAGE. The user should be immediately presented with a description of your site ... what it's for and what's in it. Also, make it easy for the user to navigate your site. For example, make certain there is always an obvious way to return to the home page from anywhere within your site.
- META STATEMENTS. These html tags are used to define the name and content of you site. Proper use of META statements will ensure that the various search engines can find and properly index your site.
- UPDATE FREQUENTLY. Ensure that visitors will return to your site by constantly updating its content. The home page should include the date your site was last revised.
- GIVE SOMETHING BACK. It has become commonplace on the Internet to give you visitors useful related information in addition to what you are "selling." Most common example is to provide links to other, similar sites on the Internet.
- ASK FOR FEEDBACK. Make it easy for a visitor to e-mail you comments.
If you don't understand how to implement any of the above suggestions, either refer to one of the many excellent references on webpage design (surf the net!) or ensure that your hired designer is aware of them. Good luck!