by Jesus De La Garza

Use these tips just as a guide; they are not in any specific order and you don’t have to stick exactly to them, as you might find some of them helpful but others not.

1. Consistency
Professional websites need to have consistency between color schemes, page layout, graphics, icons and fonts. Having consistency on a website will give your visitors a comfortable environment to navigate your pages. You might find it helpful to use your corporate image (logo and colors) to start the preliminary work. You should always try to help your visitors while they navigate your website. If you change the page layout between your web pages, you will confuse your visitors. Be consistent in your web design, your users will thank you.

2. Information – Content is King
Content will always help your customers and your search engine rankings. No one knows your products and services better than you or your team, so using your website to publish informative content will give you an advantage over your competitors. You might think that building long web pages doesn’t help you, but you should at least build an effective website architecture and write ORIGINAL content about your products and services.

3. Navigation
Website navigation should follow a natural logic. Straightforward navigation will help users to keep control over the way they choose to see your pages. You must prevent the use of the Back button on your visitor’s browser. If you choose to use a navigation bar, it must be placed in the same position on all your web pages (normally navigation bars are shown on the left margin or across the top).

4. Update Your Site Content
Because content is king, it’s also important to update it frequently. One of the most powerful impacts of the Internet on our lives is the ability to get valuable, up to date information. Unlike other regular mediums, using the Internet to publish news or press releases gives us a chance to keep our customers and website visitors up to date at a relatively low cost. Updates can also include new graphic buttons, a new flash movie, changing the page layout, etc. That will give the user the impression of a working website.

5. Download Times
These days it is very popular to include graphics, video, audio or even animations on many web-sites, but many designers don’t pay attention to the download time for those pages to load on your visitor’s browser. According some usability tests, if a web page has not fully loaded after 8 to 10 seconds, your visitor (potential customer) will go to another site. Creating graphics for a website should be a simple process. Also take note that the use of multimedia components on your web-site may require a special plug-in to be installed, so keep things simple and try to use standard components whenever possible.

6. Usability and Accessible Information
It can be the most frustrating experience for a website visitor if they are confident that your website will answer their questions, but they are not able to find what they are looking for. Visitors should be able to find the information they want easily, quickly, and in a straightforward manner. You must ensure that your website information will be easy to find for even the most uneducated user who might come looking for it.

7. Don’t Use Long User Input Forms
If you want to ask a visitor to answer a long list of questions on a single form, is a sure way to lose your visitor. Most people don’t like to answer a lot of questions on a website, so if you can, try to use small forms or in any case, to use multiple page forms, where the user will answer a minimum number of questions per page.

8. Use Contact Us Links
People like the interactivity on the Internet; your website must give them a chance to ask questions or request more information if needed. Therefore, your website should include visible contact links and contact information where your visitors are likely to see it when they need it.

9. Details
Check all details. Spelling errors, grammar, poor page layout, form errors, etc. The smallest de-tails could become the biggest difference and give a poor image of your business. Websites must also be checked for compatibility across the most popular Internet browsers.

10. Under Construction
NO. If your website is not ready, don’t launch it. Do not use “under construction” signs. Viewers will not revisit your website to see if your website is up now. They will go see your competitor’s site instead.

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