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Webmaster’s Pillars

February 13, 2010

Web Master, courtesy of BONG

Are you a webmaster? Ever confused on ‘what to do’ at the first time doing it? Or maybe some of you guys always had no idea on ‘what to do’ when you’re getting a web project offer from a client. Well, the first thing is, of course, a good COMMUNICATION skills. This is important to make sure that the client will use your web design service. You will never know when there’s already some other competitors and the client will always use the best service. Forget about how much money you will get from the client, if the client is having a good time talking with you then money isn’t really a problem. Next thing is all about CONCEPTS, you must know what the client wants, this is where all the hard work starts. Offer the client a demo website to show what you can do is a PLUS. Speaking about web concepts and basic pillars, here I would like to share some tips about it and some related stuff. Enjoy 🙂

1. A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words.

pictureA picture no doubt enhances the overall look and feel of your website. However, like the quote above a picture file is rather big in size and too much of it can make your website seem like a drag to download. Although most internet users are now cruising the information super highway at broadband speed you should still cater to those who are still using dial up connections ( and mind you there are more then a handful). As a rule of thumb I recommend you keep your image size to less then 30k where possible. Your webpage should be able to load within 5 seconds. Please do not forget about users who cannot see the images on your website by providing alternate texts as description to the images. Most webpage creation programs like Macromedia’s DreamWeaver allow you to this easily.

2. Navigability & functionality come before artistic excellence.

navigationIt is absolutely of no use to make a website that is a masterpiece from an artistic point of view but a complete failure on the web! Why? Because the users simply don’t know how to get around the website! You should always bear in mind what car manufacturers always emphasize, ease of accessibility to functions. Make sure your navigation is clear and absolutely idiot proof (no offence to those of you out there who always get lost in a website no matter how good it is).

3. Avoid Mystery Meat Navigation.

mystery meat navigationThis is one of the biggest mistakes a website can make as well as one of the most frustrating experience for users. This sort of navigation requires the user to mouse over an image in order to navigate to a link without actually having any idea where they are heading. It is only when they click and hold the mouse over the image that they can see the actual link.

4. Tables – Split them up

split tablesEver been to a website whereby you find yourself staring at a blank screen for a certain period of time before finally as if by magic the whole website just pops out of no where? That is because the designer of that website probably put the whole web page within a single table. Tables are used in web design to help align images in a website as well as to create a structure to the layout of a website. It makes everything neater as well as enables the designer to create abstract layouts easily. I will show you how to use tables as part of your design later on but for now please take note that your user would be far better off if you split a single table on a page into smaller tables as required. It helps the user to prepare for the long wait in a way as the smaller tables with their contents and images will be downloading first so users can anticipate and not leave your website in frustration.

5. No Pop-up Windows Please

pop-upsPop-up windows have been on the rise recently on the web. These are small little windows that pop-up with some information or key advertisement on them. They do nothing but clutter the user’s screen unnecessarily. It is best if all links open within the same window. However exceptions for the use of a pop up window may be for situations like if a page contains a link list then it might good to place all these links within a pop up window. However as a general rule avoid using pop up windows they make your life as well as the user’s easier. Furthermore, operating systems like Microsoft Windows XP are now equipped with Pop-Up Blocker (this tells you how welcome pop ups are to users).

6. Use Plain Vanilla Fonts

fontsHave you ever heard of fonts such as Neuropolitical? No? Well it exists and it is a fanciful font with a futuristic typography to it. You might be surprise to know that I am actually discouraging you from using such fanciful fonts. Why? Can you imagine the frustration for your users of having to read your entire website in default times new roman all because they do not have the font you used installed on their machines. Restrict the usage of such fanciful fonts to your graphical designs only. Stick to the good old combo of Arial, Verdana and Tahoma.

7. No revolutionary plug-ins

For those who have never heard of the word plug – in , do not be alarmed it is simply a executable such as a program or animation or audio/video stream that requires an external software to be installed or plugged in (hence the name) into your computer to run.

plug-insMost web designers would jump at the chance of using as many plug-ins some of which have never even been heard of before. They think that this fanciful plug-ins would impress the user however more often then not the opposite occurs. It draws visitors away from your website. No one likes to wait for an extra minute or two to allow software to download on their computer only to watch some senseless animation or listen to some audio which has no importance to the website’s core purpose. Have you ever seen websites like Yahoo! Google or Lycos? You will notice they do not have plug-ins at all. However like everything else in this world, there are exceptions even when it comes to plug-ins. For example, if you would like to use animation on your website you can use Macromedia Flash and you can create a link from your site to enable users to download its plug in via Macromedia’s website so they can view your site’s Flash content.

8. Never underestimate meta tags

meta tagsMeta tags are a group of special key words which are used to describe some aspects of the content of your site. It is widely used in HTML based websites. The information that is provided within a meta tag will enable search engines to index your webpage so that people using the search engine to search for a particular information might be able to find it on your page more easily. In short, meta tags when properly chosen can help your webpage gain more exposure and better listings on search engines.

9. User is King

kingLike every business in the real world, the customer is always right and so it is on the Internet. Keep your customers happy and focus on providing services and features on your website which focus on adding value to your customer’s experience when they visit your website. How can you do that? Simple, just make sure you have a good storefront for your website and if you are selling services make sure your customers can easily find the service they need and get prompt service from you. Always remember to put your customers at the front of your mind! It can make all the difference between a casual surfer and a serious customer.

10. K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid

KISSThis is the most common abbreviation we have all come across at one point or another in our lives. Yet, it holds so much of truth in it. Simplicity in anything; especially a website is the key to making it a huge success. Flashy graphics and fancy navigation may all be eye candy however, they serve no real purpose and in no way do they contribute to the website’s ability to draw visitors. Even if the website does draw in visitors it is mostly casual surfers who are just there to check out the website’s functionality and not actually utilize its services or buy from it.

Source : various sources
Webmaster artwork by : BONG

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