IT intelligence: web page design

Sue Fidler outlines her seven pillars of wisdom for web page design.

Designing and developing a great web page is not a mystery, and there are some simple and basic steps you can follow - or make sure your web developers follow.

Purpose. Too many pages are created without purpose, which isn't a problem in terms of server space, but does take time and effort when it comes to creating and managing pages. It also creates more routes for visitors and muddies up sites. So be sure there is a real reason for pages to exist.

Navigation. A great web page will have easy and simple navigation. Make sure you link to it from your site map page. Many sites put all the main menu at the top and bottom of all their pages. Keep your visitors' comfort levels in mind at all times.

Audience. Who is it for? What are they looking for? Will they find it in your navigation? Placement and tone are critical to making a page useful.

Design. Keep your page simple and direct. Keep it professional. Make sure it is readable and clear to all your visitors. Do a spell check and a grammar check. You may also want to check how the page looks in all types of browsers (www.anybrowser.com is a useful tool).

Content. Keep your sentences short and the number of words on a page to 200 or 300. As an alternative to long articles, add a precis and a PDF download. Think about the management of the content, how often it needs updating and who is responsible. If you want visitors to return to the page, it needs refreshing regularly. Don't forget to use the major keywords in the content to help with search engine placement.

Images. Always double-check to see if all images on your page display properly. Nothing is worse than images that don't load.

Links. Double-check to make sure all the links work. Search engines and visitors don't like broken links.

- Sue Fidler is and Independent Charity Consultant at Sue Fidler Ltd.

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