HTML Design Issues: Part 1

Return Jakob Nielsen's Site is a GREAT reference. Also learn from Web Pages That Suck!

5 of 10 design tips, part 1
Here are the 6 - 10 design tips
You can also learn HTML

  1. Balancing file size and using graphics
    When designing a website it is important to take advantage of the multimedia capabilities of WWW. It is also very important not to create a site that has files that take a long time to down load. You should use graphics to engage the visitor and help the visitor navigate the site. Good design should enable your visitor to accomplish the tasks the site is designed to allow users to accomplish. Design is not an end in and of itself.

    Do not use graphics to obstruct site access, or confuse your user!

    Size of graphics is extremely important for the homepage document, your front door to the site. If the homepage takes a long time to load (the front door is difficult to open) then the visitor is less likely to enter and navigate the site. The front page should also not require the use of any plug-ins (remember if the visitor does not have the required plug-in, they are losing the intent of the message.) Similarly, if the front page design is confusing, the visitor is likely not to become engaged. Other pages of the site should still be "light" and clean in design, but since the front page has developed a context (the visitor is accessing a subsidiary page for a purpose) it can be considered marginally less critical.

  2. Site branding (backgrounds and conformity of design elements etc.)
    It is important to try to develop your site's brand identity. This can be achieved by developing conformity among the pages of the site. If the site uses a navigational aid, then this should be used consistently among all its pages. Background color is another method of developing a brand. It may be useful to incorporate the company logo within the background of each page. Be very careful when using backgrounds, make sure the color that is used contrasts well with the color of the print, and the actual color(s) (and shades of) in the background do not contrast too much with each other. Also, check the contrast between the hyperlink text and the background (before and after the link has been used). Misuse of color will make the reading of the pages very difficult.

  3. Limiting options on a page vs. number of levels of pages in a site.
    It is important to design the structure of your web-site with care. You don't want to offer your visitor too many options from one page (this may create confusion and poor selection) and you don't want to have your visitor have to click through too many pages to get to the relevant information (visitors get frustrated at getting only options and no content. Each click increases the likelihood of the connection between the visitor and marketer to be lost).

  4. Page length
    Visitors want to see information on the screen. They do not want to have to scroll down through many pages to access information. Also, the longer the page, the greater the file size, thus the longer the page takes to load. If you want to design your information for ease of printing, then you don't want to include too many seperate pages. In this case you might want to use "long pages", but include hyperlinks at the top to direct browsers to information that is further down the document. Some designers include a print friendly version.

  5. Use of navigational devices
    It is very important to be consistent when using navigational devices. This will help brand your site as suggested above. It is also very important to include navigational devices on all your pages, or at least include a link to your homepage document. You cannot assume a visitor accesses your site via the homepage. This will help put your information in clearer context, and ensure that the visitor is able to navigate your entire site. It is therefore important to allow visitors to retain control over navigation, such that they can:
    • Always understand where within the site they are located
    • Return to the main page
    • Exit the site
    ('course, this page breaks many rules!)