10 tips to building a professional website:
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004
1. Limit the use of animation - Animated images can be quite effective when used in a subtle manner, however overuse is considered a web design no'no. Why? you may ask, well because animated images contain many different frames just like in a cartoon, these frames are effectivly a seperate image and therefore the more animations on your website the higher the load time will be. Bear in mind that the average file size of an animated image is between 15-20 K and then compare this to the recomended minimum size of 40-60 K for a web page and it is easy to see that maybe 2 or more animated images will increase your load time significantly. Try and use small animated images that are between 8-12 K in file size. See tip number 9
3. Black backgrounds and white text - There is plenty of fine websites that use a black background and white text combination such as game sites, however this color combination can leave you squinting and after a while of reading your eyes can become very sore. Gamers may be used to staring closely at screens for long periods but the majority of web surfers arent and for those that dont have a perfect eyesight this will be a huge turn off. Unless you are building a games website or your users have the eyes of an eagle then consider this a no'no too.
4. Lots of banners - We have all done or been tempted to overdo the banner thing. Sure if you have paying advertisers displaying their banners on your site then lots of banners will mean earning more for displays, this is true in the short term, but long term is another matter. Users are very wary of banner advertising, and along with the added load time too many banners can put people off. Less visitors means less impressions and therefore less earnings from banner advertising. The key is not to place lots of banners all over your site but to place rellevent and targeted banners, banners that your users are more likely/willing to click on, less is more is a good way of determinging the number of banners a site should display and if its rellevent that is even better.
5. Comic sans serrif font - This font is probably the worst font that is available to use, comic sans serrif is a very poor web font and depending on the size of font used it can also display terribly in certain browsers. Not only is this font unprofessional looking it is also a little dated and will only appeal to those under the age of 4 or comic enthusiests, hence the name. Unless you are building a comic book website or a kids website then this font should well and truly be left alone.
6. Hundreds of affiliate links - One of the hardest things to do in the world is to sell something, even harder is trying to sell someone elses products. It is easy to think that lots of affiliate links on your site can only lead to more sales but this couldnt be further from the truth. For example a site related to fishing that has fishing related affiliates has more chance of refering a sale than a fishing website containing software affiliates. Like banner advertising, affiliate links are more effective when those affiliates are targeted and rellevent. If I was a keen fisherman I would be more likely to buy products that will benefit my fishing experience. What use would say Microsoft software be to my needs. With affiliates this is how you need to think! You need to think like both a sales person and like a consumer, doing so will improve your chances of success with affiliates.
7. Page titles - This may seem insgnificant and un-important but page titles play a very important part in how people search for websites. If your website is about motor vehicles then you need to show this in your page titles, not only will this make your site more professional it will also show up as keywords in peoples search quearies. This is also a secondry form of navigation, if your pages are titled correctly and in accordance to what that page is about new users will know what page they are on. Always remember to title your pages.
8. Meta tags - Always include meta tags and keywords in your pages. This is very important and depending on the rellevancy and quality of your meta tags/keywords this could be your main source of traffic, infact it could be your only source of traffic. If you dont have meta tags/keywords then people will simply not find your website. For more information regarding meta tags and search engines read our articles and tips to help you improve your meta tags.
9. Load time - Like I stated in tip number one, the recomended size that a web page should be is between 40-60 K the reason for this is because we web surfers are an impatient lot and if a site takes more than a minute we loose interest and move on to the next website, some people will not even give you a minute - 20 seconds and they are off! Even in todays broadband world we still remain as impatient as ever and the reason for this is because we know that another similar site is around the corner, only one that loads quicker. So you can understand the importance of quick load times. To keep load times as low as possible try to use the least number of graphics as possible, only use graphics that enhance your site. Remember that Jpg's are generally large files so try and keep the size low without effecting to much quality. Also some people save normal images as jpg's, dont do this as mostly photographs need to be jpgs. Try to keep your site as quick to load as can be.
10. Professionalism -This isnt really a tip its more a colective of the above. Following the above tips will help you to build and keep your site professional. There is a plethora of websites on the web that are both good and bad, for yours to stand a chance it needs to be profesionaly presented this alone will not make your site better than others but it will give it a good start and should ensure that you start ahead of other websites that arent up to scratch. Ask your self one question; What do the sites I visit most contain? and the probable answer is profesionalism and along with other ingredients such as good rich content, ease of use and concise navigation your website will have more than a fighting chance of succeeding. It aint going to be easy but it aint going to be fruitless either..enjoy.
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