My most basic philosophy of web design is that the
end user of the site must always be kept in mind.
- standard web site design
- online shops
- web site maintenance
- client editable pages
- search engine optimisation
- domain name registration
- site hosting
- graphic design
- copy writing
- corporate identity & logos
- jingle writing & musical composition
- general and web based marketing assistance
Web users want sites that:
Can easily be found in Google
Contain the relevant information
they are seeking
Are easy to read
Are easy to navigate
It doesn't matter how flash the graphic design is,
a web site should satisfy these 5 points first.
the final design seems too simple
for the amount of work you have put in,
then you know you're done"
Frankly, a lot of nonsense is talked about Search Engine Optimisation
(or SEO) and there are companies commanding huge fees for providing this
But don't be fooled!
SEO simply means designing the site so that it ranks well in Google and
other search engines.
This is not hard to do, and I incorporate it in the original site design,
right from the beginning.
Within 6 weeks from launch, most sites I design show up on the first page
of Google when the appropriate search words are used.
Adding keywords is important, but we do need to be a bit careful.
Most major search engines, and certainly Google, do not spider or index
the keyword meta tags any more.
For those that do, if the keyword is not also in the copy of the same
page, it's considered spam which could lower your rankings, not raise
Ideally, the Title Tag should contain fewer than 100 characters while
the Keyword and Description tags should contain fewer than 256 characters
Most search engines will only consider data within these character ranges
when indexing a web page.
The reality of all the promotion of SEO is that if your site contains
the content people are looking for, the search engines will find it.
However, if you add too many keywords, or add keywords that are not relevant
to the page content, there is the added danger that Google will consider
it "keyword spamming" and not index your site at all.
Back 15 years or so ago, web site developers used to try and fool the
search engines. This was especially true of porn sites.
Remember how you would type in a query like "death of princess diana"
and then have to scroll through pages of porn links before finding the
relevant sites you were really looking for?
This happened because the porn sites wanted to increase their search engine
rankings, so they added keywords based on the current event topics they
knew people were searching for. It rendered the search engines almost
useless and, unless you were a really adept searcher, very frustrating.
Today Google is really the only search engine worth worrying about.
It is used by more than 99% of people and if your site ranks well in Google,
it will rank well elsewhere too.
For this reason, I develop sites using Google Webmaster Tools and follow
their recommendations. Google explain how they rank sites in searches
I include this SEO service in my basic web site development fee.
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Your pages must be quick to load because:
have three seconds to convince a user not to use the Back button.
Animation or other movement certainly adds interest to your pages but
should be restricted to small files that load quickly.
The same applies to sound effects. They take a long time to load and are
big files that use a lot of space on your server.
Also, bear in mind that sound effects irritate many users, especially
when they discover that their kids left the speakers on full volume last
time they used the computer!
You have 15 to 30 seconds to load everything on screen, so it needs to
be be very fast.
Many web developers take their own fast internet speed for granted and
forget that the rest of the world may be on slower connections.
A commonly overlooked problem is the use of non-standard programs that
require the viewer to have or download an application before they can
view the site. These include Flash, Adobe Reader and various video
players. Good web site design needs to take into account that a
whopping 40% of users don't have the any of the latest plug-ins installed
(statistic from webmasterworld.com), so beware of designers who swear
by these plug-ins.
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The first question that you should ask when considering your web site
is "why are people looking for me?".
So tell them who you are, what you do or sell and where you are on the
Tell people what you sell and why you are different to others who sell
the same thing. It seems ludicrously simple, but if it is, why do
so many forget it?
For the vast majority of businesses physical location is important and
people will search using the terms "Adelaide Hills" or "Hahndorf",
so these should be on your home page.
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Nothing makes me hit the back button faster that orange text on a royal
In fact I generally avoid any site that appears to have been designed
to induce a migraine!
Body text should be dark text on a light background because computer
monitors generate an annoying "glow" when white text is placed
on a dark background.
As for fonts, there are advantages to a serif font that is large enough
and clearly designed for the web, such as Georgia (used here).
If you prefer sans-serif fonts, use ones like Verdana and Tahoma, which
are nice and clear.
Above all, do not use non-standard fonts.
Designers have hundreds of fonts loaded into their computers, but the
end user generally only has the fonts that are standard, so trendy fonts
will be wasted on them and may even make the page unreadable.
Your site should look best when the browser font size is set to the default
However users should not be restricted to only using one size of font.
It might look messy, but users with poor sight really do need to be able
to use the larger font options and get understandably annoyed with sites
that don't allow that option.
Paragraphing is important.
Break your text into far more paragraphs than your grammar teacher told
you was correct at school.
Shorted snippets of information are easier to read and line breaks to
begin new sentences help immensely.
Clear text is a hallmark of good web sites.
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If you site contains 20 or less individual pages, put
them ALL on the same menu and make sure the menu is repeated on every
page of your site.
Multi-level menus look cool but are frustrating to navigate if they are
not absolutely necessary.
Give your menu buttons names that make sense so that people know what
they are about before they click.
Don't have people wandering away from your site and getting lost.
Links to other sites should open in a new window so that the user still
has your site open too.
If you have lots of links to other sites, check them regularly to make
sure they still work.
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Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and for
that reason there is no right or wrong when it comes to the design you
like for your own web site.
I will willingly admit that some sites I design are
not to my taste, but they are always to my customer's taste and comply
to the rules of good design.
For this reason, as you browse my portfolio, you will see that all the
sites I have developed are quite different.
You will find some designers who are very precious
about their "art", but really it is simply a matter of taste.
However there are some basic principles to bear in mind.
I design so that the site will look best on a standard size screen.
Many graphic designers use huge screens and some design sites to suit
those screens, completely forgetting that most people don't have that
luxury, with the end result that viewers are forever having to use the
horizontal scroll bar to see the whole page.
Designs for web sites must always remember the "top left" principle,
meaning that the top left corner of the screen is the most important point.
All pages load from that point, so that is where your logo needs to be.
Menus should be either horizontal across the top or
vertical down the left side of the screen.
That is where users expect to find them, so let's make it easy for them!
Pages should have a consistent look so that the user knows they are still
on your site.
Finally, white space, or empty space, lets the viewer's eyes rest and
makes the important information stand out.
There is no end of space available on a web site, so absolutely no excuse
for cramming in too much on a single screen.
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