A website has to be both sensible as well as pleasing; it must attract visitors, keep them interested and get them to return time and again. This is not an easy task by any stretch of imagination. Often, designers make mistakes while trying to achieve these goals. Some of the points that must be kept in mind while designing a site are:
-- The site should be easy to use. This is very important because there are a million other pages that are vying for the surfer's attention. Make sure that the navigation and the instructions are really simple. Also cut down on unnecessary steps and messages. This can wear down a user’s patience.
-- Be very focussed on what the site is offering and stick to this core while designing your navigation, creating graphics or writing content.
-- The best designs are always beautifully simple. Avoid fancy fonts, drop-shadows and heavy graphics. They tend to slow down your page download and cost your visitors time and money. There is no point in having a pretty page if a surfer is not going to stop long enough to see it.
-- Make it easy for the user to move around. Provide a search facility if possible and always have a site map.
-- Never appear careless about your site. Proof check the content, make sure that the links work and most importantly keep in mind that this is your visiting card to a million faceless visitors. Keep it in mint condition.
-- Be considerate and give your visitor choices. It always adds up to user experience. For example never pounce on someone with music. Just give the person a choice to play it along as he or she surfs.
-- Keep the browser technology in mind. This is important because you have to be sure that the browser will be able to support your design. Very often well-designed sites take a beating when opened by inferior browsers. Remember all browsers have varying degrees of competence.
-- Keep the content informative and substantiated. Never ramble and never pontificate. Easy to read and focussed copy is always a great asset. Pretty pictures and fancy fonts are of no use if you do say what you have to, convincingly. Finally never ever put a “under construction” sign for a page that is not ready. It is amateurish and can put off people. It is better to wait till the page has been constructed and then put it up.
Keep these tips in mind and chances are you will keep your visitors with you.