How To Make a Winning Site Tips
Reading these tips might help you set up a website that is ready to win the BTDesign Awards.
- Originality - Try and be as personal as you can, experiment, change, use every new weapon to build your very special site. A website should always reflect its creator's mind and some even say you can tell who is the webmaster by visiting his site.
You can refer and take inspiration from other good sites, including those you find listed on winners' lists but your special unique touch will always make the difference. Taking inspiration doesn't mean of course to copy or plagiarize, remember all websites are protected by copyright and copyright infringement can be legally prosecuted.
- Overall impression - Heavy backgrounds, clashing colors, animated gifs everywhere, Comet cursors and Comic Sans Serif font don't make a good first impression of your site. When you have finished designing your page think about how many of these elements are really necessary. You'll find 99% are not. Just get rid of them, use a background color instead of an image, use smaller images, smaller text. Loading time will decrease dramatically and your page will look more professional.
- Harmony - Keep a good balance of text and graphics. Filling a page with dozens high-resolution and large size graphics which load very slowly will make us get bored and fly away. As well, a page full of text with no visual appeal can make a visitor loose his interest in continuing the visit.
- Accuracy - No broken links or "dead" graphics - images which don't show - should appear on your site. Check your pages frequently, better on your friends' computers and other operative systems and browsers. You might find there are broken images you didn't know about. If some graphics don't show up maybe there's something wrong with their extensions or names (e.g. *.JPG files instead of *.jpg can be problematic in Netscape). Don't use blank spaces or capital letters in naming graphic files: "my_photo.jpg" is better than "my PHOTO.jpg". A wonderful free tool for checking broken images is Xenu by Tilman Hausherr.
- Organize your site - When uploading your site's material be neat and don't put everything under the main directory. Images can be put into different subdirectories like this: "images/myimage.jpg". If you have different kind of images you can organize them like this: "myphotos/myimage.jpg", "vacations/myimages.jpg", etc. This is very useful in case you have to add or remove images because it would be quite hard to find an image among hundreds other files in a 100MB main directory!
- User-friendliness - Remember not all your visitors are expert surfers nor professional webdesigners. Many visitors are novices of the Internet or children or old people who have little familiarity with computers. The worst thing that can happen when visiting a new site is to think "Where the hell should I click?". Don't make your visitors scratching their heads wondering where do they must click to proceed to the next page.
If some interaction is required do offer clear explanations, like "please click here, open the menu here, click here to close image, etc". Websites must not become puzzles for Mensa-only members. When you organize your site navigation remember how did you feel the first time you surfed the Internet.
- Frequent updating and no "Under Construction" signs - Your site is never finished I know, but if you are not ready to add a new section just be patient and wait until you can upload everything. Otherwise try and keep your website alive by updating it frequently.
- Interactivity - Everyone visiting your site must be able to contact you at least via email. There are also many other free tools that might help you keeping in touch with your visitors and Bravenet is a great free resource for them.
- Accessibility - You should not require a registration or a password or a fee for entering your site. A members only section is acceptable if the majority of your content is accessible without restrictions.
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