If I make a site, someone willsee it, right? According to SEW, there are approximately213,000searches per day and 6,400,000searches per month. Just how much data is out there to search, anyway? The answer is incredible. The internet consists of a staggering 40 petabytes, (or 40 x 1015 bytes: a 4 followed by 16 zeros) of data.* And that number is far from static. It’s been estimated that a new blog is created every second.
So, how do users narrow it all down? Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Dogpile help of course, but surely there’s a method to this madness, right? Searching the net is an art. Credible sources can be few and far between, so a careful and keen eye is required for optimum veracity in research.
In order to understand what to put on your site, it would be beneficial to understand how people get to your site.
Relevance Ranking Broken Down Search engines operate by ranking sites. Pages are ranked in order of relevance to a search by using three main factors. Your page will be judged by: • Its relevance to the words and concepts in the query • Its overall link popularity • Whether or not it is being penalized for excessive search engine optimization (SEO). Examples of SEO abuse would be a lot of sites linked to each other in a circular scam, or excessive and highly ungrammatical stuffing with keywords.
When ranking results, search engines give special weight to keywords that appear: • High up on the page • In headings • In BOLDFACE (at least in Inktomi) • In the URL • In the title (important) • In the description • In the ALT tags for graphics. • In the link text for inbound links.
Due to the measuring weight of “popularity” in search engine algorithms, a site is obligated to be more than just merely functional. Past web design, like most new communications technologies, focused on information over form. Today’s web designer (you!) cannot disregard form. To do so would lead to the death of your site.
The Color Pallette The biggest “don’t” in web design is such for an obvious reason. We take in color before text, so it stands to reason that a poorly schemed color palette will send a browser mashing the backspace key in a heartbeat.
You don’t need to be an art major to design beautiful sites. There exists a plethora of design applications to aid you in your quest for a functional, attractive site. Many are web-based, meaning you don’t have to download a thing as they operate within your browser. Sites like GenoPal and The Color Scheme Generator are extremely versatile web-based design applications.
So what does this mean for yourproduct? You must design your site thoughtfully. The most important thing to keep in mind when designing your web site is always keep it simple. More is not necessarily better. A tertiary (three-color) scheme is optimal. Remember to keep your body text atastefulcontrast in color from your background. It should also be noted that white text on black, while attractive and relatively easy to read, will become tiresome on the eyes fairly quickly. Use white text on a dark background sparingly.
Be consistent! You'll want your font style and size to be consistent. If your home page text is in Arial font, size 10, make sure the rest of your pages adhere to the same font style and size. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and you may need to use a smaller font for disclaimers, terms and conditions, etc. • Avoid the block paragraph of doom. Break up your content into manageable pieces. No one, and I mean no one, wants to stare at a computer screen scrolling fifteen pages of block paragraph formatted data.
Keep your contact info clear and direct. Don't make people search for contact info...especially if you're selling goods and services. Always have your contact information visible on every page of your web site. Hidden contact information looks fishy and makes people leery of doing business with you. • Don’t overuse banner ads. Don’t make your site look like the classified section of the back of a cheap magazine. Banner ads for casinos and lingerie don’t belong on a gym equipment site. The average user will be confused and/or irritated by the unwanted clutter.
Usability is about making the user feel at ease. Keep this always in mind as you design your site. The internet is Darwinism in action, every millisecond of every day of every passing year. Why? Because it’s a dog eat dog internet, users don’t have hours to waste fighting with poorly designed sites. What users do have is five minutes to create a mass email, blog post, or twitter update to set the ball rolling upon the destruction of the aforementioned terrible product. Remember: Keep it simple.