Surefire Web Design Tips
50 Surefire Web Design Tips
Tips to brand your website
Include your logo in all pages. Position it at the top left or
each page. Complement your logo with a tagline or catchy sentence
that summarizes your business purpose. For example "Always
low prices" is the tagline for Wal-Mart.
Create a favicon. A favicon is that small graphic that appears
next to the URL in the address bar.
Have a consistent look and feel in all your pages. Use a color
scheme and layout that are clearly recognized across your site.
Have an About Us section, that includes all relevant information
about you and your business.
Include a copyright statement at the bottom of each page.
Tips on website navigation
Design your pages to load in less than 10 seconds (50Kb maximum
size, including pictures).
Group your navigational options in relevant categories.
Use common names for your menu options: Home, About Us, Contact
Us, Help, Products. Avoid "clever" or "trendy"
If your site uses Flash, provide also an HTML version for users
who prefer a less fancy, faster site.
Provide simple text navigation links at the bottom of long pages,
so users don’t need to scroll back up.
Link your logo to your homepage, except in the homepage itself.
Put a link to your homepage on all your internal pages.
Display a "breadcrumb trail"; it is basically the path
from the homepage to the page where you are. A breadcrumb trail
looks like this: Home > Section > Sub-Section > Page, and
it greatly facilitates navigation.
If your site is too big, provide Search capabilities. Include a
search box in the upper right corner of your homepage, and a link
to a Search page from your interior pages. Freefind ( ) offers you
a free and powerful search engine for your site.
Set your search box to search your site, not to search the web.
Create a custom error page that displays a simple site map with
links to the main sections of your site. That way, you will not
lose visitors that have followed a bad link to your site or who
have misspelled your URL.
Tips on Layout and Content Presentation
Save the top of your page for your most important content. Remember:
good content must flow to the top.
Lay out your page with tables, and set the width in percentage
terms instead of a fixed number of pixels. That way, your page will
always fit the screen, without the need to scroll horizontally.
Optimize your page to be viewed best at 800x600 (the most popular
resolution at the time of this writing).
Use high contrast for the body of your page: black text on white
background, or white text on black background work best.
Don’t use too many different fonts in one page. Also, avoid
using small serif fonts (like Times Roman): they are difficult to
read from a computer screen. Verdana is the most web-friendly font,
since it is wide, clean and easy to read.
Avoid long blocks of text. Use tools that facilitate scanability,
like bullets, subtitles, highlighted keywords, hyperlinks, etc.
Avoid amateurish features like: numeric page counters, wholesale
use of exclamation points, all caps, center justified blocks of
text, excessive animated gifs, busy backgrounds, etc.
Don’t use pop-up windows. They distract your visitors and
are immediately dismissed as ads.
Test your site so that it looks good in different browsers and resolutions.
Tips on Writing for the Web
Write in layman’s terms so that everybody can understand
your content, unless you’re running a technical site for technical
Reading from a screen is painful: use 50% less words than you would
use on print.
If a page is too long, break it into several pages and link to them.
Don’t use font sizes smaller than 10pt. for the body of your
page. Specify your fonts in percentage terms instead of pixels,
to let users set their own size preferences using their browser’s
text view options.
Use a spell checker. Spelling mistakes are embarrassing and hurt
Tips to Know Your Customers
Ask for feedback: include a feedback form in your Contact Us page.
Publish an ezine and include a subscription form in your homepage.
Give your customers valuable information and encourage them to contact
Include polls and other tools to gather market intelligence.
Tips on Linking
Make your links descriptive. They should indicate what the user
will be linking to, as opposed to just saying "click here".
Don’t underline anything that is not a link.
Underline your links and use a consistent color for them across
your site (preferably blue).
Use a different color for visited links, so that your visitors
know where they’ve been (preferably purple or a more subdued
tone of the unvisited links color).
When linking to a non-HTML file, such as Excel, Word or Acrobat,
make it evident, by including a small icon next to the link.
Don’t link to "under construction" pages.
Make sure that your links work and that you don’t have broken
links. There are free online tools that can help you with this.
If you use graphic links, don’t forget to use the ALT attribute.
The ALT attribute should describe what are you linking to.
Tips on how to use graphics
Optimize your graphics. Use only .gif and .jpg formats. Make your
image files as small as possible while maintaining acceptable quality.
Use a free online graphics optimization tool.
Use thumbnails (miniature versions of a picture) and make them clickable
to the actual size picture.
Avoid graphics that look like ads. People ignore them.
Use the ALT attribute on pictures, even the image is not a link.
It helps users with disabilities and people who have turned off
Tips to optimize your site for the search engines:
Create short, descriptive page titles, to entice search engine
users to click on your links.
Create a site map containing all your pages, and link to it directly
from your homepage. Search engine robots will follow the link to
your site map and will most likely add all your pages to the index.
Decide what the two or three main keywords are for each page (the
words you believe search engine users will type to find your page)
and repeat them often in your page title, description meta tag and
Create a Links page and call it Resources. In it, place links to
those sites that have agreed to place a reciprocal link to your
page. The more inbound links you have from quality sites with a
topic related to your site, the better your site will rank with
the search engines.
Search engines heavily favor text and will crawl and index your
About the Author
Mario Sanchez publishes
The Internet Digest ( http://www.theinternetdigest.net ), an online
collection of web design and Internet marketing articles and resources.