You only have a few moments for your site to give that all important great first impression so it's important that you make it crystal clear what you are selling / promoting or advising and how the visitor navigates around the site. Provide intuitive navigation at the top, and perhaps at the bottoms, off your front page, this is no place to be overly creative as people haven't got time to navigate complex menus they simply want to know what they can find on your website.
Your website home page (index page / default page) should be created so that it's striking, informative, and that the navigation is intuitive. After all this will be the difference between visitors that spend a long time looking at your site and those that spend 5 seconds on it before pressing the 'back' button on their browser. Check out your website stats from your hosting provider or Google Analytics to see how long people stay on your site.
The website home page is your first and last chance to get the persons attention, where they make the decision to jump in or press the back button. a good idea always starts with a striking image that says something about what you are offering, show testimonials and your portfolio of previous work if there are any offers or specials the home page is the place to show them, the place to encourage the site visitor to delve in deeper, if you offer some free service as part of one of your packages ensure that you provide the web link to that page on your website homepage
Photos / Graphics
One picture worth more than million words, that's why we have a photographer on the team, The front page header / logo if it be a photo or graphic needs to be attractive and perfect in every way, just take a look at our delicious lips ! this ensures any products you are selling are clear and attractive Its well worth your time in creating an image or using a photo that best describes your services. You will need to take care when saving the image as this brings up a host of options and choices, in terms of file type and compression / quality settings.
Make sure you don't compress your images or photos to such a level that they are not crystal clear when viewed on your monitor, ensure that they are saved at the correct size that they will be displayed at on the webpage, Google frowns on webpages that take too long to load and large image files are usually the reason for this. Its normal that when we are working on our images in Adobe Photoshop CS4 that their initial size is something like 10MB eventually ending up as 10k-90k jpgs or gifs on a webpage.
Flash or too Flash ? This can make your Logo / Header look very impressive but comes at a development time and financial cost as opposed to photos and design art, If you go ahead and decide to implement an Adobe Flash intro on your landing page / first page (we don't advice this).
It's important that you give the site visitor the chance to skip intro. Nothing more annoying that looking at an 'artistic' site when you just want to get in it.
Place the navigation in an intuitive place (at the top or on the site is good). Don’t become too experimental with the navigation!. Additionally don't change your navigation methods from one page to the next, i have seen this many times and it still amazes me that people don't keep the same navigation structure on all pages. The modern development tools like Dreamweaver CS4 gives you the ability to create templates that include the navigation so you don't need to cut and paste every time you create a new page or update the navigation
Simple one here, nothing too random, veranda is designed for ease of reading on screen, ensure size is 12 points, many people just cant be bothered to read very small letters, I am one of them ! Text should be easy to read and should contrast with the background colour. Avoid big clumps of text on your pages, why not have smaller concise paragraphs or even consider easy to follow bullets (Search Engines love bullet points also !)
Even with super fast Internet connections you cant be lazy. do everything possible to ensure your site is as compact in size as possible, do this without reducing image quality to ensure that this will keep it's download time to a minimum. reduce the size of images and photos. The Image must look clear, and aim for a size of between 10k 90k, in general use the comppression type jpg for photos and consider using GIFs for web graphics. The Photoshop function 'save for web' will help you our here.
Ensure your CCS sheets have all redundant styles removed and that your code is correctly formatted and W3C Compliant to ensure they are viewable in any internet enabled devices (phones, pdas, watches, In car computers, Iphones etc etc)
Test before publishing
Test, test and then get someone else to test and then test it all again on the most popular browsers Internet Explorer 7 and 8 and Firefox 2 and 3. At the very least it's embarrassing to publish a site that doesn't work properly. Your site visitors will probably not contact you if there are links on your site that are not working or if your images do not appear aligned to the text correctly. Get spell and grammar checking. Remember that your web visitor will make up most of his / her opinion about your company purely based on the first impressions they get when on your web site.
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