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A Web site design doesn't need to be complicated, or fancy, or flashy. What it does need to be is organized, intuitive, easy to use, and customer oriented.

There are millions of sites on the Web, and it's all too easy for your visitors to move on to another site. Your goal is to make your site "sticky" - a geek term meaning interesting, engaging and friendly - a site that users will return to again and again.

  • Give your users what they want, without making them wait or making them work for it.
  • Make it easy to find the information users want.
  • Make it painless to complete a purchase.

These elements of design are far more important than making a site look "hi tech" or adding fancy graphics and movement that don't convey content.

A writer, I believe it was Heinlein, asked the question: "if you wanted to build a spaceship, would you add a bathtub simply because you had one on hand?" The answer, of course, is no. You use exactly what you need and no more. The principle is similar for Web design; you use what you need to reach your audience, to suit your purpose. Extras are optional.

Language is as important as design. Sites with spelling mistakes, grammar inaccuracies and useless copy are not appealing to the user.

Studies have shown that people scan content online more frequently than printed media; users expect condensed language designed to deliver information in the least amount of time; Web surfers will not read long chunks of text - they are looking for the facts, and expect essential information to be delivered in a pared-down, accessible manner. Additional information may be appreciated, but that information should be optional.

All of the above notwithstanding, design IS important. Consistency of navigation is absolutely key; the means to access information must remain constant throughout the site. Color, image and theme are important elements in projecting the desired image and feeling for a site. Images need to be optimized for minimal download time and maximum visual impact. Text needs to be positioned in a manner that enables maximum reading comfort. (For example, it is MUCH easier to read a column of text that does not span the entire width of a Web page. One half or one third of the page is a more reasonable column width for reading.) Text also needs to be presented in a way that is generally understandable, readable, and accessible to users with disabilities. Text font, size and color all work to create a pleasant reading experience.

At Wolfhound Web Design, we've spent a great deal of time thinking about these issues and others that are important to good design and a great user experience. Maybe we don't get out enough, but it's what we care about: good design.

Please if you are interested in learning more about the principles of design and usability or if you'd like to discuss having WWD handle your site designs.

The goal of a site is a good experience for your users; our goal is to create a good experience for you.

 

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