Monday, January 29, 2007

When Creating A Site Always Keep This In Mind

Are you are novice and struggling to get to grips with your new web site design? Well let’s get through a few factors on the does and don’ts on designing your web site.
Most new comers to web site designing make the most simple mistakes and these simple mistakes could cost you so many hours to fix and in some cases you will might has well just restart all over again.

First of most novices create there site and get a simple template set up, halfway through they create loads and loads of pages and then it dawns on them… They forgot to add a button to there navigation! This is one of the biggest and most common mistake most people make. You end up having to redo every single page, which can take up some much time which in most cases its just best to delete and restart all over again.

When creating a brand new web site the best thing to do is to draw your plans out, just get your self-an A4 pad and a ruler and start drawing out the layout. Don’t worry if you don’t have good drawing skills cause this is only going to be a rough layout. This is to help you get a good understanding of what you really want at first before you start getting down to the good stuff. Make a list of all the buttons that you’re going to have in your navigation menu. Go through them and see if they need adjusting to suite your site keywords. This will boost your SEO and help with your Google PR and ranking.

Have your site all drawn out and have your colours and navigation sorted? Then it’s time to start designing your template. Using programmes like Dreamweaver and Front Page will help you control what pages you are creating and to help you set up a template within the software. Also a great way of keeping on top of things is learning how to use CSS. CSS is a fantastic code, which helps you control all the html tags from a single style sheet. Want different colours for your backgrounds, then simply change it in CSS. No need to change every single page on your site. Want different buttons? Again CSS is your friend. Just always keep in mind when creating your first page is that it will be your main template for the rest of your site, so don’t go mad and start creating loads and loads of pages from your first page cause this could so much trouble with adding new stuff on your site. Always make sure your site is ready to go straight from the word go, if you are hesitant then you should not start designing till your hundred percent confident that your ready to start moving to the next stage.

Again CSS is your friend, there are many sites out there that will teach you how to learn the basic of CSS and html. Use Google and search on CSS Tutorials and HTML Tutorials and you will find hundreds of tutorials that will start from novice to expert.

Article Directory Website Design Understanding the Essential Basics

If you have done any article directory surfing, you have probably noticed all types of article directory designs. You may have run across those that are visually impressive and enjoyable to look at it. They make you stop and ask yourself the following questions: "How can I make an attractive design like that?" Then you have probably run across those site that have inflicted pain onto your eyeballs and you have probably questioned yourself, "How do I avoid that?" So many people do not understand the essential basics to creating a visually pleasing website design. Let us take a look at these four important and basic subjects of design.


Most of us understand the concept of contrast, yet when you look at different website designs, we often see this concept ignored. Contrast needs to be highly considered when creating any type of website. Ultimately, you want the visitor to come in contact with the content and information of the website. Your visitor does not want to have to *dig* through your website to find the information for which he or she is looking. If your content is hidden, people will miss the purpose of your website and simply give up trying to find the information or article they need. Reader's eyes want a visible and clear presentation.

To put contrast in exercise, highly and carefully consider the colors you are using for your website design. The type of contrast you are looking for is black text on a white background. While that may seem boring, it is most important that your background contrasts with your text so your text is clearly visible and seen. Another mistake you will often see is the overuse of graphics and images. Use graphics wisely! Too many graphics can clutter your website and make your content buried. A graphic-laden page does not necessarily mean it will be more visually pleasing.

Contrast is a simple and effective way to visually enhance your website. Remember, that you want to bring the content to your reader. You do not want your reader to have todig for it.


The second concept, alignment, is also extremely vital to the website presentation. Good alignment brings about unity and order. Bad alignment brings about chaos and disorder. Knowing that we want to bring content and contextual components to our visitor, we need to present that content in an orderly fashion. The basic principle for alignment is this: do not mix alignment styles. For example, if you have left aligned text, do not create a centered heading. You want your design to flow. That brings us to our next concept, repetition.


While providing your website visitor with clear, visible orderly content, you can also create a stronger sense of unity in the website through repetition. Repetition on a website basically means that you use the same design elements throughout the design. That means you want to use the same logo, graphics, bullets, fonts, and colors. A common misconception by amateur designers is that the more color on the page you have, the more visually pleasing it is. Experience and good judgement show that this is simply not true. Stick to four similar contrasting colors. Stay consistent with your fonts. Stay consistent with your graphics. Repetition will further the sense of the unity in your document.


Proximity ties in with presenting easy-to-find content to your website visitor. Proximity is not a hard principle to follow and it will greatly increase your website's readability. To follow the concept of proximity, put elements together that should be together. For example, if you are talking about a book, you do not want to have the book title at the top of the page, the author at the bottom of the page, and the publisher of the book on a completely different page. To re-emphasize, you want your visitor to find what they are looking for easily. Proximity best assists your viewers in finding exactly what they need, when they need it.

Following these basic design principles will allow you to make a sharp and attractive website. Remember, you want the content to find the visitor. You do not want the visitor to have to dig through the design to find the content that they need. When the content finds the visitor, you want it to be unified, clear, and visible. Exercise these four basic concepts, and you will have yourself a very visually pleasing design.

Revolutionary Guide to Web Designs

There are a thousands of people and companies who would want to advertise their services for web designs. The question here is, are you sure if the services that you have bought would be the one that you really like or the best deal in town? Think twice.

In this article, I would like to share tips and advice to Web designs. Yes, your own creation. But before we begin, we have to make sure of 2 important things. First, analyze your goals and needs then make a plan. Second, create a site specification on what you intend to do, what trend and technology (including how much you are going to spend) and the most important, the content you'll need. If you are able to decide on this part, then you are ready to begin. Here's the step by step process.

First and foremost, create a site definition. This is the initial stage where in you have to define your specification and objectives for the website you are going to make. Analyze the goals you have in mind and justify the budget and things required. In this stage, you also need to define the site content, the information resources that you will need to meet your prospects' needs.

Second, website architecture. Programming, database design, search engine design, and data entry is performed in this stage.

Third, site design. This is the stage wherein you have to obtain its appearance as that of the page grid and overall graphic design. You have to visualize the content for the site that needs to be created. Plan, research, write, organize and edit the text content is done in this stage.

Fourth, website construction. This is the stage wherein all pages are completed and programming components linked. This is the time we could possibly say that it is now ready for beta testing.

Fifth, marketing of website. This is where optimization of site is done. Basically, this is the time that you need the expertise of a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Specialist to promote your site in many ways. Your website must be part of all marketing campaigns and corporate communication programs. Article submission, Link popularity, press releases, etc., is performed during this stage.

Sixth, keep track of your progress thru evaluation. By analyzing the server logs for your website, you can develop a quantitative data on the success of your site. There are a number of popular software packages wherein you can track down your visitor including their locations (state, city and country) and time, the keywords that they have used to find your site, the referrer sites, etc..

Now that you are done with it, after making all the links "live," please do not abandon your site. It doesn't end there. You have to maintain your site. You need constant attention and constant development changes in order to make it more and more capable. You must also need to check periodically if the links are intact and functional.

In website designing, you need not to set a budget that is too high. You need not to get an expensive service. You just need appropriate research and familiarity to make your own. Careful planning of an objective and clear purpose are the main keys to success in building websites.You can create the most unique or simplest design. What's important is that you have done what you have always want it to be.

The 10 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid on Your Web Site

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year, your Web site is presenting your company’s image and message to prospective clients all over the world. With this phenomenal reach, you want to make sure your best image and best message is coming across.

Perhaps your Web site is not generating the interest you’d like it to and you’d like to find out why. Maybe you’re just getting started in your new business and know you need a Web site, but don’t know where to start. Possibly your Web site is doing great, and you’d simply like to take it to the next level.

Whether creating a new site or updating your existing site, here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

1. UNPROFESSIONAL WRITING. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the Web design portion of a Web site and forget about the words that go on the pages. Maybe the Web designer does the design but not the writing. You might even find yourself writing the content at the last minute. Good writing is far more important than bling, and great copy from a professional copywriter will get your phone ringing.

2. LOOKING LIKE ALL THE OTHER SITES OUT THERE. Your business has something unique and different to offer its customers. Is that evident on your Web site? If not, you could be attracting the wrong type of customers, or worse, none at all.

When you hire a Webmaster, you’ll want to make sure that s/he will design your site for you and your customers and not for himself/herself.

Your Web site will shine when it emulates your company’s personality.

3. NOT MAXIMIZING THE EIGHT SECONDS YOU HAVE. Web visitors – your potential prospects – will give you only eight seconds to wow them. Do you have your best stuff at the top of your home page? I mean the really good stuff, not just the stuff your mom is proud of!

You’ll want to capture the attention of potential customers using the item that brings out the best in you. It might be a great tag line, a killer testimonial, a big award, a blue chip client list, or the like.

4. NO CREDIBILITY. Can Web visitors check out your reputation on the Web? You’ll want to make sure your Web site comes as close as possible to feeling like a warm, personal visit with you. Do this by posting content that is designed to build your credibility.

As an example, this can include content that shows you have a track record of success: testimonials, case studies of current clients, and a client list.

If you have been mentioned in the press, include a press page on your Web site that lists the newspapers, magazines, radio talk shows, and other places where you’ve been mentioned.

5. NO WAY TO CAPTURE INTERESTED LEADS. People warm up slowly. Your Web visitors might be interested in you but are not quite ready to call you or buy anything yet.

You’ll want a way to keep track of these warm leads who will be ready to buy a few months down the road when they’ve gotten to know you better. There are several ways to gather leads from your Web site, depending on what you’re willing to offer them. One method that is completely ineffective for capturing leads is to ask for information on your contact page. Just don’t do it!

6. NOT MARKETING YOUR SITE. If you’ve spent all your money doing everything right, but you don’t market your site, you may not get any visitors.

You’ll need to spend at least a little time marketing your site through offline and online methods. For example, add your Web-site name to the bottom of every email that you send. You can do this automatically by modifying the signature file in your email software.

You may also want to delve into the more advanced fields of search engine marketing and optimization.

7. UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Many people’s pet peeves is to click on a page and see an “Under Construction” message. It’s inconsiderate of people’s time to lead them down a dead-end alley, plus your Web site screams the message, “This person can’t finish what they start.” I’m sure that’s not the message you wish to send.

8. TOO MUCH BLING. In the name of being cute, many Web sites display obnoxious moving parts, flashing signs, or vacuous videos. Did you know most people hate that stuff?

Bling doesn’t impress clients, except in three cases: kids’ sites, sites that sell luxury items, and entertainment sites. If you have one of those sites, then you need bling. Limited bling is OK, timeless style is better, and meaningful, benefits-filled content is best.

9. NONWORKING LINKS, TYPOS, OR OTHER MISTAKES. A site filled with errors tells me that its owner probably makes a lot of mistakes when delivering services. Even if the message is compelling, the red flag is there for people to see. People’s intuition will tell them not to do business with you. A quick and thorough testing of the site will avoid this pitfall.

10. NO GOALS. A lot of people come to me saying, “I want a Web site.” I ask them, “What do you want it to do?” And they don’t really know.

Building a Website That Will Attract Customers

So, what makes a good website? Well, the bottom line is "anything that gets in the way of what customers need is bad design however nice it looks".

What you include on your website and its appearance will of course depend on what services or products you are providing and what you want the site to do for your business.

It can be tempting to try and be everything to everyone - just because you are on the web and can, potentially, reach the whole world. This is probably not how you focus the rest of your marketing strategy but the lure of the web is a weird and wonderful thing.

This unfocussed and random approach can actually be detrimental to your business and, in the worst cases, make your website a millstone around your neck.

We've all had the experience of going into a shop and being unable to find what we want easily and quickly. Often there is no assistant to point us in the right direction. What do we do? We leave and spend our money somewhere else. The same is true of websites.

When you start planning your website the most important thing is to look at it from the customer's perspective. A successful user experience is the main reason people return to a company. If your website looks amateurish, is confusing to navigate, does not deliver what it says it does or makes it difficult for your customers to achieve what they want on the site they won't use your services.

The majority of businesses do not need complicated websites, and thank goodness the craze for flashing text, cheesy music playing in the background and images jumping around all over the page has past.

Fashion in general has a big part to play in this and the look this season is clean, uncluttered and easy on the eye.

Websites get out of date both in terms of appearance and information. You should aim to review your website every 6 months. This is not part of your regular updating. This is to ensure that it is still in line with your core business strategy, your customer demands, and is promoting the right image.

Too many websites lie untouched for years with their owners complaining no one ever uses them. There are good reasons for this and it is in your interest to find out why and address those issues. A good website can really enhance your reputation, attract new customers, retain old ones, enable you to learn more about customers, create new revenue streams, increase referrals, develop brand loyalty, improve customer service and enhance your other methods of advertising.

There are tools around to make keeping your site fresh easier. Being able to update your navigation without involving a web agency can save you money in the long term. Learn more about Flexible Navigation

So whether you are working on your first website or revamping an existing one, tap into the experience of your web designer. If they are worth their salt they will know what works and what doesn't on the web, will be able to advise you on how to present your content and what you can do to make your site a cut above the rest.

The relationship with your designer should be a partnership. You need to be open with them about what you want to from your site and provide them with as much information as you can about your business - how it works and where you see it going in the future. They'll also want to know your unique selling points, your main competitors, you company image and personality and your market (both traditional and target).

With all this information in hand your designer will be able to make sensible and relevant suggestions and recommendations. In addition, having a clear of idea of what you want to achieve will also put you in a good position to judge the success of the project.

Getting a good website is not an exact science but good planning and research will give you a head start.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Elements of Interface Design

First impressions count and the first impression a visitor
receives when they arrive at a site is the look or visual appeal
of the design. The visual design of a site is referred to as the
interface. Judging a Web site by it's interface design is
similar to judging a book by its cover or judging a person by
their looks. It may not be logical but it is typical human

Outward appearance presents the image and professionalism of the
site company or owner and it can affect the comfort level of the
visitor. Interface design consists of specific elements, all or
some of which are used regularly in the creation of a site's
"face". Knowing what these elements are, and how to use them
well, will assist you in your Interfacing.

1) Say It With Symbols. Symbolism is used often in interface
design in the form of icons or graphics. That first impression
must be made quickly before the site visitor clicks away and
without a voice, a Web site relies on imagery for
representation. Services, product or content can be splashed on
the screen as a grabber or colours, fonts and images can present
an online presence, whether professional or playful. Symbolism
can be metaphoric, abstract or conceptual and is a powerful
visual aid to a site visitor.

2) Keep It Uncluttered. Every feature of the interface should be
obvious to the visitor and should be used based on need,
otherwise it becomes clutter. A font that is hard to read,
graphics that look like buttons but are not linked, text that is
underlined as headings are elements that do not perform their
purpose. To avoid confusion, design using features that are
needed to present the image you are working towards and that
assist in the navigation of your site while flattering the

3) Make Navigation Easy. Navigation often influences the
interface design more than most designers would like it to. This
important aspect must be consistent and must be logical to the
visitor. Consistent navigation means that your menu is a part of
your interface - it will be on each page. This aspect of your
design will be affected by the structure you have chosen for the
site. Good navigation design can be added to as the site grows
without negatively interfering with the design of the interface.

4) Orientate Your Visitor. Each new visitor to a site is like an
explorer. Without guidance in the form of headings, titles,
links, brands and logos, they may not know where to go or where
they are within the structure of the site. The interface design
must also include features that orientate the visitor,
especially if the site is large and has many sections and
sub-sections. The designer can maintain a feeling of familiarity
with consistency in design, orientate the visitor with headings
and titles and can guide the visitor easily with clear

5) Stay Consistent. Consistency, as I've mentioned, is very
important in many of the interface design elements as well as
colour, font, and graphics. When the interface changes, the
visitor thinks they have left the site. Confusion leads to
bookmarks. Remember this. When a site visitor feels
uncomfortable, is confused or irritated by a Web site they are
two clicks away from a familiar site that is linked in their
bookmarks or favourites.

Designing Above the Fold

The most value part of any web page is that part which is shown in your browser before the need to scroll. This is generally known as "above the fold."

Arguably, you have just 10 seconds to grab your visitors' attention. That doesn't seem long, but as the brain can absorb thousands and thousands bits of information per second...10 seconds is long enough to get your message across!

The "above the fold" part of a web page (especially of the home page) is the most valuable real estate you have on your web site.

The first fold of your web site needs to communicate the biggest benefit you have to offer your visitors. This is often referred to as your Unique Selling Point or "USP". However, 7 out of 10 web sites are poorly designed above the fold. Here are the 4 top pitfalls that drive visitor's away.

1. Flashing banners

2. Too many links

3. No clear USP

4. Time consuming flash animation

So what should you do to capture the attention of your visitor? Here are the things you should include above the fold.

1. Spell out your USP
Answer the visitor's biggest question, "what's in it for me?" Use a main headline and supplement it with a secondary headline. Communicate benefits, benefits and more benefits to the visitor. You should use a H1 or H2 tag for the main headline and H3 for the supplementary headline.

Is your USP to save the visitor money? Offer a guarantee? Make live easier? Help the visitor to earn an income? When you are working out your USP and benefits...remember the difference bewteen "benefits" and "features." If you have a product that is reliable - that is a feature. The benefit would be peace of mind or lower maintainence cost.

2. Opt-in Email address or Bookmark
If you offer your visitor the chance to bookmark or opt-in to a newsletter or request more information then place the links into the "above the fold." You should do this for every page. You have worked so hard to build and promote your website and now you are attracting traffic, but if you can get an email address or allow your visitor to bookmark you, you will increase your chance to continue promoting to visitors after they have left your web site

3. Navigation

I am sure some smart alecs will say your navigation should never be above the fold, forcing visitors to scroll down and read your copy.

I could not agree less.

You should have your navigation above the fold, giving your visitor full control. Ideally, place your navigation bar somewhere on the top or left hand-side of every page.

When visitors first arrive at your site, they should be able to find what they want quickly. Don't frustrate them with quirky and quacky titles either. Use titles that convey benefits like, "Special Offers" or "Savings" or that are generally understood.

4. Professional Design
Avoid banners and flashy animation. Not only does it consume real estate, but it will slow the page download...a cardinal sin. Keep it simple. Each page on your website should download in 15 seconds or less on a standard 56-bit modem.

Even if you are promoting affiliate programs banners have a generally poor conversion rate. It is 10 times better to sell in context with text or product links. Besides selling straight off the home page has little credibility.

5 Most Common Web Design Mistakes

As you're designing your new web site, you'll
be tempted with web design ideas that could turn
into fatal mistakes. This is especially true
if your web site represents your business.
Below are five of the most common mistakes to
avoid at all costs...

1. Too Many Graphics

Having too many graphics (particularly large
graphics), can cause your site to load entirely
too slow. Visitors will get impatient and
often times click out of your site -- never to

SOLUTION: When possible save your graphics as
GIF files (gif.htm) rather than JPEG (jpg.htm).
Also, reduce your graphic in actual size as
much as you can without distorting the graphic
or picture.

2. Counters

A visitor counter or hits counter should not
be seen on your site unless you have trememdous
traffic. The reason for this is visitors
really don't want to know which visitor they
are, especially if they're visitor number four.
There's no benefit to your visitor, nor is
there any benefit to you. The only way showing
a counter is advantageous is if you've had
millions of visitors and wish to display the
popularity of your site or would like to
attract advertisers with the large numbers.
Otherwise, you can use this space for a
benefit-packed headline that leads your
visitor to another part of your site.

SOLUTION: Most web hosts offer web statistics
that reveal daily visitors, hits, referrers,
etc. This feature will let you know how many
people are visiting your site without the whole
world seeing the information. If you're just
starting out, make sure your web host offers
this free service.

3. Banners

Limit your banners to the bare necessities.
Why? Because banners are graphics that can
slow loading time and are a turn-off for many
surfers on the internet. For most, "banner"
is just another word for "ad" and they avoid
clicking on them.

SOLUTION: If you do have a banner or two,
place the banner at the very top or bottom of
your page. Or you could place a small banner
in your sidebar. Most people will look at
the first picture they see and then start
reading below the picture, so any writing or
links that are above the banner may remain
unnoticed. Also, the banners on your site
should be related to your product or service.
Remember, everything on your site should work
together to benefit your target customer.

4. Scattered Web Site

When designing your site, make sure it has a
pattern that leads your visitor. Get several
people (friends or relatives) to visit your
site and watch them as they navigate. Notice
the places where they stop (as if they're
finished) and also links that they click on.
Organizing your site to lead visitors is very
important whether you're leading them to buy
something or just to click and go to another
place in your site. Customers are silently
begging to be led.

SOLUTION: Take a look at the flow of your
site. Design it in a fashion that always
continues like this...

Make sure that graphics don't get in the way
of your lead. If the visitor stops in the
middle of the home page to click on a graphic
or banner before getting to your sales page,
they may never return. You've got one chance
to get the visitor's attention and keep it.
Make the most of it.

5. Generalization

The most effective way of selling on the
internet is to personalize your web site to
reach your target audience. Many web sites
are general and try to reach everybody. The
reality is that you can't be everything to
everybody. The business owners who are
successful on the web normally have very
specific products or services that target a
niche market.

SOLUTION: Make your site as personal as
possible. As you're writing, pretend that
you are face to face with the customer.
Present your web site in such a way that
the visitor feels like he just walked into
a store in his hometown. Also, stay
focused on your target customer (one who
would be interested in "your" product.)

These five mistakes should be avoided at
all costs if you want to build an effective
and successful web business.

12 Tips To Increase Your Web Page Speed

GRAPHICS One word is the root of 90% of the reason for slow
downloading web site pages...yes you guessed it..."graphics."

1. Limit the number of graphics you use per page.

2. Repeat graphics. One of the best ways to speed up your site
is to use the same graphics on every page. Once a graphic has
loaded, it doesn't have to load again as it is stored in a
computer's cache.

3. Compressing your images is one of the best ways to get a
faster-loading web page. You can usually reduce a GIF or JPEG
image by 40% to 50% without losing any significant definition or

4. Use a thumbnail instead of 900lb gorilla of a graphic. If the
visitor is interested she can click the thumbnail for a larger

5. Reduce the number of colours you use in graphics. Just using
a handful of colours will still deliver great graphics at a
fraction of the size. JPEG files, commonly used for photos,
require thousands of colours. A GIF file, used for drawings and
simpler graphics, can be compressed to include only a few

6. Include height and width on images - This allows the browser
to "pre-allocate" the space for the graphic on the display, and
will speed up the page download. In addition, if ALT tags (this
is text to describe the image) are included with the images,
then something will display even if the image does not display.
This is particularly relevant to those who switch off images on
their browser.

HTML 7. Spaces and redundant tags in HTML add to the size of
files. Try to eliminate as much of the superfluous coding as you
can. Most pages can be reduced by 15% to 25% just by taking out
redundant coding. If your HTML Coder has a "clean code" function
use it. Alternatively, try the HTML Optimiser

8.Design in HTML. Java and Javascript allow you to do those
pretty rollover things, however, they slow the download of your
page, as well as potentially confuse some search engine spiders.
Make use of non-Java links instead.

9. No more than 6 links per page. Why do some webmasters put up
20 zillion links per page? Often visitors are so confused they
leave. Keep it simple and guide the visitor logically through
your site with a minimal number of links per page. Again, fewer
links requires less memory.

META TAGS 10. Limit meta tags to 5 or 6 keywords. Why do some
webmasters insist on hundreds of keywords? Apart from slowing
the download of your page, search engine spiders will see your
site as being very diluted and meaning "nothing to no-one."

HOSTING 11. The server speed of your web site host will
influence the speed of your web site's download. Avoid "Free"
hosting. Nothing is truly "free." Free hosts tend to be
oversubscribed and lack the resources to provide fast and
reliable servers.

GOLDEN RULE 12. The golden rule of golden rules...make sure each
page of your web site is no bigger than 30kb in size. If you can
do this you will be well on the way to a fast web site and a
fast web site is of course a professional web site.

10 Tips for a Better Website

1) Navigation: Keep it simple (KISS), and make sure it's
consistent from page to page. No matter where you place your
menu bar -- either at the top or down the side -- always include
a small text menu at the bottom of every page. If you're one of
those people easily impressed with Flash, don't design your
navigation with it. There are still some people who don't have
or want the plug-in, so they won't be able to navigate your
site. Besides, search engine spiders can't read it, so won't be
able to spider the individual pages of your site if the
navigation is done in Flash.

2) Privacy Policy: With all of the concern over privacy on the
Web if you collect any type of information from your visitors
(even if it's just an email address) you need to include a
privacy policy. There are many online templates that will help
you to create one easily. Once made, post a link to it on every
page of your site.

3) Contact Information: Nothing drives me more insane than
having to search through an entire website just to send the
owner an email. Post your contact info at the bottom of every
page of your site, along with your email address. Don't make me
fill out a whole form when I just want to send a simple comment.
Include your email address, hotlinked and ready to go.

4) Logos & Graphics: Please keep your graphics down to a
reasonable size. No one wants to wait two minutes while your
huge, beautiful logo loads onto the screen. If you must use a
lot of graphics to get your point across, I've got one word for
you: Compression.

5) Fonts: Remember if you stray from using the standard fonts
that everyone has installed on their computers (such as Arial,
Verdana, Times New Roman) the viewer won't see your fonts as
intended. Your users' computers will display your site in their
default fonts. Stick to standards. If you must have a certain
font used you'll have to turn it into a graphic to maintain its

6) Make It Sticky: Include interactive features if possible,
such as live news feeds. Check out for
tons of news feed topics you can paste into your site for free.
Use chat rooms, discussion boards, etc. You want to create a
sense of community where people will want to return.

7) Newsletter: If you're going to have a website you need to
offer a newsletter, even if it's strictly going to be about sale
items, specials or site updates. You need to start collecting a
list of your visitors' email addresses so you can keep in touch
with them. Ezines help to keep your site fresh in the client's
mind and helps to establish trust and credibility. For more on
how to start your own ezine see

8) Browsers: You'd be amazed at how differently your website
appears in different browsers. Make sure you take a peek at your
site in Netscape and Internet Explorer. Recent stats show IE has
about 80% of the market share, but you'll still want to make
sure the other 20% can view your site without any problems.

9) Resolution: This is a highly debatable subject. "What
resolution should I design for?" The norm these days seems to be
800X600 although there are still a small number of people
limping along in 640X480. Look at your site in different
resolutions to get an idea of what I'm talking about. If you
don't mind letting the small majority scroll right and left, I
say go with 800X600 (that's what I do) and it still looks
acceptable to those surfing in mega resolutions of 1024 and

10) Index Page: This may seem like a given, but I'm going to
mention it anyway. On the very first page of your site (the
homepage) the first paragraph should answer the "5 W's";
basically telling them who you are and what you're offering.
You'd be amazed at the number of websites that leave this out;
making me think "what do these people do, and what's in it for
me?" You need to answer these questions and do it fast. Surfers
are a very impatient group. Stop them before they click away.

If you remember the above 10 pointers when putting together your
next website, you'll create a winning site that visitors will
want to return to, and not run away from in frustration.

How does accessible web design benefit all web users

There are many examples in society of innovations that were originally intended for people with disabilities but that have provided access benefits to all people (curb cuts and automatic door openers are two of the most common). Accessible web content is a similar innovation. Web content designed in a way that is accessible to people with disabilities additionally benefits many nondisabled users and often benefits all users. Following are specific examples:

* Providing text alternatives to visual content (e.g., providing ALT tags for images) benefits anyone who doesn't have immediate access to graphics. While this group includes people with blindness, it also includes those sighted computer users who surf the web using text-based browsers such as Lynx. Text-based browsers have a loyal following because they provide quick and efficient access to web content. Also, despite the increasing availability of high-bandwidth access technologies, it still isn't ubiquitous, and many Internet users are still connecting using regular dial-up telephone lines due to lack of available alternatives (particularly in rural areas), income, or choice. Slow-loading graphics can seriously impede these users, and many have learned to disable the display of graphics in their browser in order to decrease download times. Similarly, users of handheld computing devices often disable graphics in their browsers to facilitate quicker downloads, to conserve memory, and to ensure a better fit in the small browser window.

There is also a growing market for voice web and web portal systems, which provide text-to-speech web access via telephone or car (for examples, see Audiopoint, InternetSpeech, and SmartWeb Vehicle, as described in the WebWired article Ask your car radio!). Some of these technologies currently provide specific services through a small group of elite content providers, while others already provide full access to the web. Access for users of these services depends on the availability of text alternatives to visual content, as well as other accessible web design techniques.

* Providing text alternatives to audio content (e.g., including captions with multimedia) allows access to people with limited or no access to sound output. This includes people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it additionally includes anyone trying to access the content in a noisy environment and people with missing, broken, or otherwise inadequate sound hardware. Captioned multimedia also allows the content to be indexed and archived so that it is fully searchable. A growing number of education entities are developing video search applications based on closed captions. For an example see UC Davis Broadcast News & Information.

* Avoiding use of color to convey essential information ensures that the information is accessible to those who can't reliably discriminate between colors. This group includes people with blindness and color blindness, but it also includes people using monochrome monitors and handheld computers with green screens. It also benefits people who are using voice web services, as described above.
* Using high-contrast foreground/background colors benefits those with visual impairments, but most other users will also enjoy reading your site without squinting or experiencing eye fatigue.
* Using cascading style sheets (CSS) rather than HTML tables to control layout of web pages results in pages that are more usable for screen reader users, but additionally allows content to be displayed more appropriately on smaller screens and on emerging web-enabled devices such as wireless phones.

* Using relative rather than absolute units (e.g., percentages instead of pixels) ensures that content fits well regardless of resolution. Users with and without disabilities have an ever-increasing choice of resolution settings with modern computer equipment. Content should be designed to scale reliably, regardless of users' display devices or settings.
* Clarifying natural language usage (i.e., specifying whether the language of your content is English, Spanish, or some other language) allows supporting screen readers to use the appropriate language engine automatically to read the content synthetically. This, of course, benefits screen reader users such as people with blindness or reading disabilities. However, it also allows search engines to index your content by language more accurately.

* Avoiding flashing animations is necessary because animations that flash at frequencies between 2 and 55 hertz can trigger seizures in individuals who are susceptible. Flashing animations, however, additionally tend to annoy or distract users without seizure disorders.

* Providing a clear, simple design, including a consistent and intuitive navigational mechanism, benefits a variety of users with disabilities, but the result of doing so is a website where users can easily and efficiently find the information they're looking for. Clearly, this is a benefit to all users.

Web Designer and Proud of It

Who’s to blame?

It is not the fault of today’s web designers that their profession is something that most people who have the ability to get on the Internet can profess to know. It is the fault of today’s designer that people do not know the difference between a professional, and a 16 year-old with a knack for self promotion. That difference is design skill, Internet knowledge, experience and professional commitment to the field.

HTML is an easy language to understand, and it doesn't take much skill to go to a store and buy one of the many WYSIWYG web editing software packages. But there is more to web design than coding a page that will show up in a browser. The limitations that are placed on web designers make constructing pages a game of concessions and tricks to fool the browser. We have appropriated the TABLE feature of HTML as a sort of on-line Postscript, defining cells to hold our data or images in the same way that we used paths and text boxes to design for the page. But with every new trick, with every new advance, the nature of the Internet passes our ideas along to every other self proclaimed “web designer” out there.

As professionals we are presented with the same situation that the Desktop Publishing revolution presented to graphic design in the late '80s. Software companies are all proclaiming that their product will make your web pages as good as that of a professional designer. Local community colleges offer web page design classes taught by computer science teachers that focus on the lexicon of HTML and not the goal of providing effective design. Books are available in most stores with titles like The Idiot’s guide to Web Design and Web Page Design for Dummies. Our profession is being treated like a high-tech arts and crafts class at the local seniors home.

So what do we do about it?

What we can do

First, we need to widen the gap between the self-proclaimed web designer and the true professional. Professional web designers do not “do” web page design, we practice it. Web design is not a merit badge to be added to your uniform in scouts (but the way things are going it is probably not far off), it is a career choice that demands continual growth and serious dedication. We continually work at improving our skills and techniques, learning how to use new tools and mastering the old ones. To elevate our profession from the perception it has now to the esteem that it deserves, the gap between the professional and the amateur should be evident to the casual viewer.

Second, as professionals we need to understand that a visitor’s reasons for clicking a button are equally important to that button’s appearance in various browsers. We should be able to look at the information to be included on a website and organize it in an easy to understand manner. Part psychologist and part magazine editor, a web designer needs to be the digital equivalent of a Renaissance person. Just as a good magician can force the queen of hearts to be picked from a deck of cards, we need to be able to channel visitors of a website to the information that will answer their questions.

Third, we must be able to set goals for the sites we design. Working with a client to develop their Internet strategy is as important to the website’s success as how it looks. A company that wants a website to just be on-line is going to miss out on the communications impact that an effective website can have. As professional web designers we must be able to work with a company to outline what they want to get back from their website, and what it will take to achieve this return. We then need to use this information to develop a site that will meet the client’s needs.

Fourth, an understanding of marketing and PR should be part of every professional web designer’s resume. We should know how to use the Internet’s gift-based economy to gain an increased customer mind-share for the client. Professionals should have no trouble planning an effective banner campaign or writing meta-tags that work to promote the site. As professionals we will need this type of background to compete with the “after school” web designers angling for our business.

Fifth, professional web designers need to be proud of our profession. It is time for web designers to embrace our title, and take it back from the 16 year-olds. The next time you run out of business cards, take pride in your profession and use the title, Web Designer. Get together with other web designers in your area and start a professional group. Stop hiding behind the fancy wording and creative name games; by doing so you are only adding to the perception that web design is a suitable trade for idiots and dummies.

Information to Have Before You Hire a Website Designer

The better prepared you are before you hire a website designer, the smoother the process of creating your website will go. Here are a few important items that you can have on hand before the design process starts.

1. What is the purpose of your website? Are you going to use it as an online brochure and send people to it or do you want it to bring people to you? Are you going to use it to sell your products, such as books, workshops, classes, etc? A visitor with the intent of buying something will want a different style of website than the visitor who is looking for information.

2. Who is your target market? Every successful website is designed with the typical end user in mind. For example, a website for a funeral company wouldn't use the same colors, fonts, layout, or technology that a website for skateboards would use.

Create a customer profile of your ideal customer or client listing everything you know about them. Age, income bracket, lifestyle, special interest, and region are some of the characteristics of your target market that could shape the design of your website. Any information that you can give the web designer about your target market will help them design a website that will appeal to your visitors.

If your business is personal, such as coaching, I recommend that it also reflect you as much as possible. Spend some time surfing the net, looking at Other People's websites. They don't need to be websites of businesses like yours. Pick a minimum of 3 that you like and 3 that you don't like, note their address for future reference, and make notes about what you like and don't like about them.

3. What features do you want on your website? Shopping cart? Flash? Email form for contacting you? Refer-a-friend form?

Are you going to need updates and maintenance after the website goes live? If you will be having product changes, sale items, updates on services, and the like, then let the designer know. If they don't do maintenance then ask if they can refer you to someone who will. If you are planning on doing the maintenence in-house then the designer and the person who is going to be doing the maintenence will need to discuss the architecture of the website and the procedures for updating.

5. What is the content of the pages you wish to offer on your website? A home page, of course, and a page about you. What other pages do you envision? This is important info for your website designer to have before they give you an estimate on the cost of your website design.

6. Are you are going to have print material such as letterheads and envelopes? If so, it's advisable to let your website designer know before they begin the design. The reason for this is that images on the web are of a much lower resolution than print images. An image of higher resolution can be made into one of lower resolution, but the inverse is not true. Once pixels have been removed from an image so that the image can be used in a website, they can't be put back in. If you are going to have a graphic designer do your logo, run it by your website designer before it's final. Some images are not easily transferable from print to web.

7. Do you understand what the designer is saying? Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't understand the answers, say so. If the designer can't give you answers that you understand then they may not be the designer for you. The creation of a website is not a process done by one person alone. It is a co-creation between you and the designer or design team. Your website is a reflection of you and it is your responsibility and your right to participate in the process of it's creation.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Web Transitions is a website design firm

Web Transitions is a website design firm with seven years experience in developing effective web sites. Our approach to website design is based on the principals of continuous improvement... the process control theories that helped Japan become the world leader in manufacturing during the latter part of the century.

Website design is the process of determining the content, interactivity, user features and site flow for your web site.

Graphic design is the process of creating the look and feel (image you want to portray) of the web site.

Content design is the process of creating the content that will be presented to the site visitor.

Program design is the process of developing the software necessary to have the site respond appropriately to visitors requests.

Web Transitions starts with a website design based on your company goals and what you want the site to accomplish. We then use the website design to drive the graphic design, content design and software design necessary to accomplish your goals for the site. We then top it all off with specific measures to help you determine how effective your web site design is.

These measures also give us the basis for continuously improving the effectiveness of your website design. Every change you make to the site can be tracked to see if the change had a positive effect on the performance of the web site. If yes, the change stays. If no, the change is removed and we look at something new.

The Right Web Designer For You

If you are on the prowl for someone or some organization to
design or redesign you or your organization's website, it may
be both comforting and daunting to know that your choice of
designers is at an all time high. From freelancers to marketing
firms and everything in between, there are thousands of people
ready to sell you their skills. The question is not where to
look, but how to choose the right web designer for you.

There are two major factors that you will want to take into
account when selecting the right web designer for the job;
namely your needs and their organizational structure and
skills. If you have not done so already, take a moment to write
down why it is, specifically, you want a website; what will you
want it to do? What is your niche? What is your market? Who are
your competitors, and how are they attempting to tap into that
niche? Do you have a particular brand or image you wish to
associate with your products or services? It is best to have
firm (though not closed) answers to these questions before
approaching a designer. If you know what you want, it is much
easier to determine if a particular web designer or web design
agency can and will give you what you seek.

With your wish-list in hand, it is time to find the right web
designer. The first decision you will need to make here is
whether to go with a freelancer, design team, or marketing
firm. It is difficult to generalize about any one of these, for
there are both very excellent and talented freelancers as well
as very bad ones. The same might be said for design teams and
even marketing firms. However, here are some things that you
will want to consider and investigate.

First, it is important to know if you are dealing with a web
design company or a marketing agency and graphic design
organization, for the latter often sub-contract web design
work. Generally this is not a problem, although it does put a
set of people between you and the designers, which may become
tiresome, especially on larger projects. A web designer worth
his or her digital weight should have a handle on e-marketing
design and tactics. If you take the time to find a reliable
individual or firm, it should be possible to bypass the
marketing agency and still obtain a quality, competitive
design. Freelancers are often less expensive, and have the
advantage of dealing with only one or a handful of people.
However, a freelancer is just one person, and this one person
may not be available all the time should problems arise.

Other factors to consider when considering web designers
include their portfolios, whether they use templates or
original designs, the extent to which they will be able to
promote the website once it is designed, the size and client
list of their organization, and their ability to both give you
what you want and to provide suggestions and ideas of their own
based on their own knowledge and experience. Last, and
definitely not least, is customer support and response time.

With the Internet being the delocalized entity that it is, it
is not unusual for a web designer to perform work for a company
either out of state or abroad. While a local designer makes
face-to-face meetings easier, the same things can be
accomplished with email, the web, and phone. However, if at any
point during the selection or design process you feel that the
designer or his or her company is anything less than consistent
and open in availability, it may be wise to consider
alternatives. One thing to look for is whether or not the
company is willing to provide you with access to immediate
customer support via telephone or chat. When and if something
does go wrong, e-mail technical support can move a bit slow.

These were just a few things to watch for and consider when
choosing the right web designer for you. Other things you might
include could be the designers' web site's Google page rankings,
or whether or not customer support over the telephone is toll
free and available all of the time. The most important thing to
do, however, is to seek as many estimates and proposals as
possible. The more candidates you field, the better your
chances of hiring the right web designer for you.

Selecting the Best Web Design Language for Your Project

If you'd like to create and publish your own web site on the
Internet, your first step should be to decide what type of
web site you would like to create and what web design
language you would like to use.

Although there are several web design languages to choose
from, make sure you take some time to research your options
to ensure you're making the best choice for your project.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

The easiest and most popular web design language is
Hypertext Markup Language, better known as HTML. This
language is so simple you can type the syntax into a text
editor, such as Notepad, save it with an .html extension and
instantly have a web page.

You can learn more about HTML here:

Although HTML will enable you to create simple web sites, if
you want something more dynamic, you'll need to look into
using other languages:

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, better known as PHP, is a
highly popular, server-side scripting language that can be
embedded directly into HTML coding.

PHP can do anything that CGI (Common Gateway Interface) can
do, such as process form data and auto generate dynamic
content. However, PHP can do much more. It can be used on
all major operating systems and supports most web servers.

PHP's main focus is development for the web, so it has a
quick development time and can solve scenarios much quicker
than some of the other web design languages.

You can learn more about PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor here:


ColdFusion, developed by Macromedia, is used to build and
serve web pages. It consists of ColdFusion Studio, which is
used to create web pages, and ColdFusion Server, which is
used to display the web pages.

One of the best features of ColdFusion is the ability to
create web pages 'on the fly' from content stored within a

For example, a variety of content can be placed within a
database as 'pieces of content.' When a user types in the
web address to retrieve the web page, ColdFusion dynamically
develops the pages, from the 'pieces of content,' as they
are served.

Although it is very reliable, ColdFusion may be better
suited for larger companies rather than individuals, as it
is fairly expensive.

You can learn more about ColdFusion here:

Java Server Pages (JSP)

Java Server Pages, also known as JSP, is a web design
language developed by Sun Microsystems. It is used to
control web page content via servlets, which are little
programs that run on a web server. These servlets modify the
web page on the server prior to it being displayed within a
web browser.

The JSP technology enables you to combine regular, static
HTML with dynamically generated HTML.

You can learn more about Java Server Pages here:

Active Server Pages (ASP)

Active Server Pages, also known as ASP, is Microsoft's
solution to dynamic, interactive web pages.

Active Server Pages are web pages that contain scripts in
addition to the standard HTML tags. These scripts are
processed prior to a web page being displayed within a web

Unlike standard HTML pages that have an .html or .htm
extension, Active Server Pages have an .asp extension.

An advantage of ASP is that it is language-independent and
therefore is easy to use across all platforms and
applications. It is very flexible and powerful, yet some
people don't like it merely because it is a Microsoft

You can learn more about Active Server Pages here:


With so many different web design languages to choose from,
which is the best language for your project? That will
depend on your web site needs and how much time and/or money
you're willing to invest.

If you want a simple web site with text and images, HTML is
definitely the way to go. Not only is it easy to learn, but
there are also many HTML editors available online that will
write the code for you.

Although HTML is usually the right choice for most, if you'd
like your web site to be dynamic, you will need to research
some of the other languages until you find the best solution
for your project.

Take your time and do your homework before you begin. If you
don't feel confident in your ability to create your own web
site, hire a professional. It will save you a lot of time
and trouble in the long run.

Custom Web Design Pitfalls

Custom web design can be a very frustrating experience, both for buyers and designers.

Why is so difficult to choose the right web designer?

Consider that web designers have different degrees of knowledge.

Be aware they are always going to present you with the options they are more comfortable doing and not necessarily the most desired options for your project.

Remember, you are going to pay for a custom design based on your needs. If a web designer offers you a shortsighted premade solution without considering your necessities, look for someone else to do the job.

You need to ask for specific features, for example:

  • Browser support
  • Compliance of web standards
  • Average size of prospected pages
  • Navigation structure
  • Search engine friendliness
  • Overall work quality
  • Content management system features

Only considering price is not a good approach, look for quality and features.

Effective communication between you and your chosen web designer will be essential.

Designing different paths for different users

When you design business websites, you need to provide different paths for different users.

Searchers, prospects or buyers. Different paths will help them find what they want quickly.


When users are searching for information about products or services like the ones you offer, you have the opportunity to show up in their search results.

To increase your chances of being found, put as much as you can, well written and clear informational pages about your products or services in your website.

Your limit is the fact that it can take a lot of time or a lot of money to create these informational pages and once they are created it's recommended to review them at least twice a year.


It takes sometime to make a decision.

In the long term a good portion of your visitors will be returning visitors, they will be coming for more information or to buy something, maybe after visiting some of your competitors.

In this path you could entice your visitors to take a specific action, it could be learning more about your products or services, fill out a form, contact a salesperson, try your products or buy them.


This visitors are convinced that something that you're offering is right for them.

Make this path as easy, straightforward and rewarding as possible.

In the case of returning customers looking for additional or complementary products or services, you are encouraged to implement a personalized section on your website for them.

Don't distract them. Avoid linking to your previous paths from this one, this is a one way path only.
And once they are on its way, you can show them additional options or special promotions.

The Truth About Download Time

We hear all the time from web designers that they spend countless hours and resources trying to speed up their web pages' download time because they believe that people are turned off by slow-loading pages. Their concerns have been amplified by experts like Jakob Nielsen who asserts that users become frustrated after waiting too long for pages to load. It makes sense that a slow loading page is unusable. We know that if a page takes 2 hours to load, chances are people will abandon their tasks. But when does download time go from too slow to fast enough?

Nielsen reports that the home pages of the most popular sites he studied took an average of 8 seconds to download, whereas the pages of the less popular sites took an average of 19 seconds to download. He therefore concludes that users will be annoyed or frustrated by pages that take any longer than about 10 seconds to load.

When we began our research, we thought we would find a strong relationship between page download time and usability: sites with faster download times would be more usable than slower sites. We also expected that users would be consistent in their ratings of site speed, and that these ratings would correlate strongly with the actual speed of the sites.

To test these predictions, we studied 10 different web sites over a 56 kbps modem. On these sites, we had users perform their own personal tasks; each user did something that was interesting and meaningful to her. No two users performed the same tasks on any site. For each of the sites, we had users rate how fast they felt the site was. We called the users' measures their "perceived speed" of the site. Later, we watched videotapes of the studies and measured the actual download times of the pages.

We started by confirming one of our hypotheses: all users rated the speed of the 10 web sites consistently; they thought,, and L.L. were the fastest and was the slowest. Despite having performed different tasks on these sites, users were consistent in their reports of perceived speed.

Our other finding, though, took us entirely by surprise. When we looked at the actual download speeds of the sites we tested, we found that there was no correlation between these and the perceived speeds reported by our users., rated slowest by our users, was actually the fastest site (average: 8 seconds)., rated as one of the fastest sites by users, was really the slowest (average: 36 seconds).

There was still another surprising finding from our study: a strong correlation between perceived download time and whether users successfully completed their tasks on a site. There was, however, no correlation between actual download time and task success, causing us to discard our original hypothesis. It seems that, when people accomplish what they set out to do on a site, they perceive that site to be fast.

When we thought about these findings, they made a lot of sense to us. If people can't find what they want on a site, they will regard the site as a waste of time (and slow). But, when users successfully complete tasks on a site, they will perceive their time there as having been well spent.

Jakob Nielsen tells designers to focus efforts on improving actual page download times on their sites. But what we're seeing leads us to wonder if it's worth the resources to make web pages load like lightning. Instead, we're wondering: When users are complaining about the download speed of your site, what are they actually complaining about? Are you better off making the site load faster or ensuring that users complete their tasks?

Are There Users Who Always Search

Web designers often tell us that they spend a great deal of their limited time and resources working to improve their on-site search engines because, they believe, there are some people who always rely on the search engine to reach their target content. They find further support for this assumption from Jakob Nielsen who, in his book, "Designing Web Usability," asserts that more than half of all users demonstrate "search-dominant" tendencies by going right to the search engine when they first visit a web site looking for content.

Assuming this is true, designers have their work cut out for them. Devising and producing a site that supports both visitors who prefer using the search engine and those who gravitate toward links presents a substantial challenge. Teams with limited resources find themselves in the position of having to support two separate paths to the same content. With perhaps thousands of pages of content to get users to, maintaining separate location tools becomes a monumental task. Anything we can do to reduce the work is going to be tremendously appreciated.

So, we decided to put the user search-dominance theory to the test. In a recent study we conducted on e-commerce sites, we tested out this assumption about user preferences.

In our study, we observed 30 users performing 121 different shopping tasks. Each user visited between 3 and 6 web sites, shopping for items they told us they were interested in purchasing; no two users were interested in exactly the same products.

If the search-dominance theory is true, we should've seen a subset of our users always relying on the search engine to find product information, while others relied on the links. If we didn't see at least a few users who consistently relied on the search engine, then we would have to question this idea of search dominance.

Also, when we looked individually at each site in our study, we should not have seen all the users who visit a particular site employ a single strategy. We expected to find samples of each kind of user behavior on each site.

To make this last point a different way, consider the city or town where you live. Some of its inhabitants are right-handed, some left. If you go into any restaurant in town on a Saturday night, you should find some mix of lefties and righties. It is highly improbable that only right-handers would populate a random restaurant on a random Saturday. We had a similar hypothesis for these web sites: It seems highly unlikely that only search-dominant users would use a site during a given series of tests.

When we looked at the data from our study, we found that there wasn't a single user out of 30 who always used the search engine first when looking for product information. None of the users in our study were search dominant. However, we did uncover some link-dominant users. About 20% of our participants chose links exclusively.

Then, when we looked at the individual sites, we saw that for 21% of the sites, every single user who visited only used search. It seems that these sites were search dominant, not the users. Thirty-two percent of the sites were link dominant (users only used the links on the site) and 47% were not dominant to search or links.

We find it fascinating that on 53% of the sites we tested, each visitor stuck with a single location strategy — the same strategy employed by all the other visitors to that site. This implies that there is something inherent in the site's design that causes users to choose the search engine or the links, not a hard-and-fast preference of the user.

As we talk with the users, we often hear them tell us that they do have a preference for search — that they are search dominant. All the time, we hear, "I always go to search immediately." But none of our users actually did always go to search immediately — yet another piece of evidence to suggest that what users say they do and what they actually do are very different.

In analyzing our data, we noticed that one of the factors that predicted whether users would initially start with search or with the links was the type of product being sold on the site. Certain types of products lend themselves better to being searched. For example, users typically go to the search engine to find a specific book or CD, however they tend to use the links to find a particular item of clothing. We believe that the nature of the content on the site can play a huge role in whether it is a search- or link- dominant site.

We also noticed that users often gravitated to the search engine when the links on the page didn't satisfy them in some way. For a long time, we've observed that users seem to use the search engine as a fallback after failing to pick up "scent" on the home page. Our recent study gave us more evidence to support this behavior. We observed many home-page link failures that forced users into the search engine.

The lack of evidence to support the user search-dominance theory implies that teams may need to think about concentrating their efforts on a single location tool. Depending on the specific content on their site, teams might want to focus specifically on either the search engine or the links, but not necessarily both. Everything we've seen in our testing says that focusing the resources on a single approach can dramatically improve the user's experience. •

User Friendly Web Design

Centering your efforts on user experience.


Provide useful content.


Organize your site in an easy an intuitive manner.

Navigation must be clear and consistent all over your website.

Web Design Considerations

Prefer a liquid layout for your design, that easily adapts to different display sizes, rather than a fixed one.

Allow change of text size using proportional units like em's, ex's or percentages.

Prefer your pages to display quickly, keep them very streamlined.

Optimize all your graphics before using them on your design.

Avoid as much as you can errors on pages, like script errors, database errors, pages not found or broken links.

For Business Websites

Credibility is a must for ecommerce and business websites. Provide elements for your users to know and verify about your business identity and trustworthiness. Show how to contact you in an easy and clear manner.


Don't forget to listen to your visitors, interacting with them can be very rewarding.