Website Design is definatly the most important part of the development process. This will in most cases be the first impression of your business or orginization. Online people want to be drawn into your website while easily finding the information that they came for.
Your website should be clean and simple, such as simple smooth graphics and easily read text. Make sure that all graphics on your website are high in quality but small in size (sometimes difficult to accomplish but definatly a must). Image backgrounds should be very light and work as a background as suggested. Many people have backgrounds that show through too much which causes not only a distraction from what you are trying to push accross to your readers but also as a deterent when people can’t read text on the site. All graphics should be clutter free and placed only where they will serve a purpose to your visitors. While floating graphics and multiple images may look flashy it creates an environment thats more difficult to navigate and decreases your chances of keeping a visitor past the homepage. What a web surfer sees is less important than the message they recieve from the website. Be sure to keep flashing graphics, ad banners, and sounds to a bare minimum. Also popups are a huge no no unless being used specifically for an event that there is no other alternative.
Your site while needing graphics should focus primarily on text as this is the meat of the website and the only thing that will get your point accross. Avoid using flash at all cost, while flash is pleasing to the eye it will in no way help with exposure. Search engines cannot see text in flash files or within images so content must be displayed properly as physical text. All images that need to be used within the sit must have an alt tag which can and will be indexed by search engines. At least half of each page of your website should be text that describes that page with at least 2 links to other pages within your website.
Most important is the loading time of your pages. While most people nowdays have broadband of one kind of another the time it takes to load your page will most certainly impact the time someone stays at your site if they get there at all. Make sure that all images within any one page of your website total no more than 2 megs otherwise your pages load time will be greatly reduced. Also any style that you have within your website should be contained within style sheets.
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