Friday, March 11, 2016

Build a Better Web Site

If you are developing a personal site, the only limiting factor is your imagination. If you are designing a business site, some common sense (and a little restraint) comes into play.

A professional-looking site goes a long way to establishing you and your business as legitimate and trustworthy. It doesn't have to be fancy, but a nice, clean design is essential.

I am often surprised at the number of emails I receive from people who think building a website should be quick and easy. In some ways it is. After all, it isn't rocket science. The more you know, the easier it is. If you have the right tools (software) and the right knowledge, you can design a site to rival the "big boys."

Words of Wisdom

  • Learn the basics of HTML. No program can produce "perfect" code and you will need to tweak the code in some circumstances. If there is something you can't fix in design view, looking at the code and understanding how you can change it will make your site work better, look better, and download faster.
  • Learn the basics of CSS or at least enough to make minor changes rather than adding HTML markup code to your pages.
  • Learn the ins and outs of whatever html editing software you plan on using. Read help files, look for tutorials, take a class, or buy a book.
  • Keep this adage in mind: "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!"
  • Forget the animated gifs, ticker tape text effects, and things that blink. Forget about the clever mouse trails and the hopping bunny. Check the successful sites in your market and see what they are doing. Then do it.
  • Don't make visitors hunt for links by using obscure words or hiding your navigation. You typically have five seconds or less to grab your readers' attention. Make it clear and easy to see what your site is about.
  • Provide "alt tags" for all images. Make the alt tag description for each image clear. "My New Car" tells a visitor almost nothing. "My 2015 Silver BMW" tells a whole lot more.
  • Keep your font choices simple but experiment with Google fonts. You can add a bit of fun to headings, etc. Just don't overdo it. The best practice is to keep regular text in sans-serif so it is easier to read on the screen. You can use either serif or sans-serif fonts for headings in an appropriately larger size.
  • Understand that you will never stop learning and a web site is never finished.

Happy web site building.

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