Here are some of the considerations that I use when designing a website.
It is important to retain the same overall design throughout a website. Keeping the same general layout and position of key components such as navigation buttons will ensure that visitors quickly become familiar with using the site.
The Home Page
The first page to be seen on a website is the home page. It should be used to give an overall understanding of what the website is all about without going into great detail. More detail can always be given on the page that deals with a particular subject. Ideally, a home page should need little or no scrolling to view it completely. Other pages can be much longer. First impressions are important. Customers may not proceed further if the homepage is too daunting.
Efficient navigation through the website is very important and should be made using clearly defined buttons or menus. A user should always have a clear indication as to where they are on the website and it should always be easy to see how to get to the other pages and back to the home page.
Many websites on the Internet have been designed to a fixed width that allows the full width of the website to be visible on most sizes of computer screens. Other websites will adjust automatically to the width of the window, although this can sometimes cause unsatisfactory layout effects on very wide or very narrow screens or windows. This page can be seen full width by viewers who only have an 800 pixel wide screen. Nowadays few Internet users have screens less than 1024 pixels wide so you may prefer to have a page width closer to this larger size.
These will always add interest to a web page. Generally they should not be too large simply because large images take longer to download, causing a web page to take longer to appear. This is not a problem if your viewers are using fast broadband but if they are using a slow link or are using dialup they may give up waiting and go elsewhere.
Generally it is best to limit the number of design colours used to three or four at the most. Background colours, if any, should not be too strong. Most muted colours will work as backgrounds although some, such as yellow, tend to be a bit hard on the eye. White backgrounds are the most popular and together with dark text are the best for clarity.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
If internet users do not know the name of the website that they want or are looking for a particular product or service they will probably search for it by using an Internet search provider such as Google or Yahoo. The position that your website achieves on the pages returned by these search engines can be influenced by the way that the website is engineered. This is called Search Engine Optimisation.
Unless you request otherwise, I will take steps to obtain a good SEO rating for any website that I build. I will send submissions to the main UK Internet search providers, Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc., requesting them to include your new website in their search listings. I also insert a description of your website and a list of 'keywords' into the website header (a hidden area) for search engines to make use of. These 'keywords' consist of a list of words that relate to your product or your service together with your location and your areas of business. Having unique or uncommon words can help to give you more chance of being placed at or near the top of a search page when someone uses them in their search.
I will give you details of what is required if you want to supply me with your own description and keywords.
The wording of the first paragraph or two of the home page can also be of help if it contains words or phrases that people are likely to use when searching the Internet for a site such as yours.
Being linked to from websites already listed by search providers can help in the rating that a search provider will assign to your site, which also gives you more chance of being placed at or near the top of search response pages.
These steps should help your website to achieve a good SEO rating at no extra cost.