Miscellaneous Topics: Part 1
The Web Designer’s Pre-flight Checklist
I always look for these elements in web sites:
- Clean, easy to update design/structure.
- Good usability in the design – and all that implies.
- Fast loading ‘light’ pages.
- Intelligent use of technology – using Flash when it makes sense not because you want a ‘cool’ intro!
- The website’s ability to convey the meaning/message of the website quickly, if not instantly.
1. Clean easy to update design/structure.
Just a few short years ago, the web was full of dancing mice, spinning globes, and animated construction workers, things have since changed and design principles are now actually put to good use … amazing! 🙂
The problem that we find now with many websites is that the design is not flexible. Websites constantly change, so if you find that putting in a new navigation button is going to take a lot of work, you have to reconsider your design. You should be able to freely add and remove elements from your pages with little to no trouble – that only makes sense.
2. Good usability in the design – and all that implies.
Usability is one of the new buzzwords that people like to use, but what does it mean? In a nutshell, usability is referring to (in web design) how easily someone can get around your website … how usable it is. If someone has to ‘hunt’ for your ‘home’ link or your contact information, then you have a usability problem.
3. Fast loading ‘light’ pages.
This is one of the oldest rules in the book! People will leave your site like a flash, if your site takes over 10 seconds to load.
This rule is much less of an issue these days, since so many have high speed Internet connections. We are after all, in the time of HD video downloads and Youtube. Nonetheless, still keep it in mind that loading speed is an issue, so be sure to check your websites with a middle of the road connection.
Testing your website for speed:
If you have a super fast internet connection, you could simulate slower connections on your computer with software. For example, Apple has an app (Network Link Conditioner) that you can install for free on your Mac, to set the connection speed on your computer. You can set it to throttle your connection to DSL, 3G and other speeds.
4. Intelligent use of technology – using Flash when it makes sense not because you want a ‘cool’ intro!
I think this is obvious to most people. All the technology used to build websites are just tools; we use a screwdriver when we need to, not because we want to. (Of course, I’ve been known to hammer nails with a screwdriver and saw wood with a steak knife). The point is that you need to let the goal of the website dictate what technology you are going to use, and not what the flavor of the month happens to be at the time.
5. The website’s ability to convey the meaning/message of the website quickly if not instantly.
The one thing that gets on my nerves when I’m surfing the web is when I come to a web page where I can’t figure out what the website is about. (Ok, maybe pop-up windows are worse, but this still ticks me off!) Typically, these turn out to be what I would call ‘artsy’ websites, where the design is pleasing to the eye, but I have to ‘dig’ to get the point of the website.
Make sure that your visitors can easily know what’s going on (and why) when they get to you, otherwise you won’t be conveying your message too well because people will just be leaving your website.