Content is King. The most important thing to remember about popular web sites is that they are always rich in content.
Stick to your subject. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Keep your goal in mind. Creating a web site is challenging and fun. The temptation to put as many bells and whistles as you can on a page is almost overwhelming. But unless your site is involved with bells and whistles, don’t do it! The purpose of designing a site carefully is not to make it look cool, or win awards. It’s to accomplish the intended goal of the site. It’s a good idea to write down the goal of your the site before starting any design work. It will help you make design designs for the site as a whole.
First impressions count! Think about the message you are sending to your customer. The first page of your web site should be a concise description of the website. Don’t make this page too busy – entice visitors to dig deeper into your site through the use of inviting text and interesting graphics. If you are serious about your business, buy your own domain name and don’t use a “free” hosting service.
Design sites, not pages. Your primary concern should be the site’s overall design. When starting to design a new site from scratch, you should try to create a design that will make sense to users, has a consistent look and feel, and is not to difficult to extend in the future. The consistency of design of a site is one of the factors that differentiates amateur sites from professional ones.
Make it easy to get around your site. Your customer should be able to easily navigate to any page in your web from any page in your page. It’s important to link in a consistent, well thought out manner that users can learn to navigate. Have clear links to your pages and, if are selling a product, make it easy for people to buy it! Show your business name, address, phone number and E-mail address on each an every page. Invite customers to contact you with their questions or comments. Add links to other sites only when necessary, or on a special links page at the end of your site. You want visitors to go through your site before surfing off to another!
View your site through the eyes of a stranger. Once you have completed you site outline, view it in other browsers. Does it look like you wanted it to look?
Don’t forget to tell the world about your new site. Make sure that your URL is on all your company business cards, letter heads, brochures, phone systems, etc. Swap links with other related web sites and consider banner advertising. List your site with the major search engines, but read their rules of submission first!
Keep your site current. Come up with a reason for people to visit and revisit your pages and recommend them to their friends. This could be a series of articles giving tips, a daily cartoon, or other attention catching event. The words most likely to attract visitors are: Free and Special. Be sure you offer something of value if you uses these words!
Survey says… Ask users about your site. Create a survey and give a reward for responding. Ask friends to check out the site, then grill them on what they thought about it. This can be valuable input on what improvements are needed. Often, users can be thrown by things a designer might never see as a problem. Don’t ever stop looking for ways to improve your website. Subscribe to professional E-zines, and keep surfing the web doing market research. What are your competitors doing better? Ask for feedback from your friends, relatives and customers. They will often see things with fresh eyes.