The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites - HTML with Style | 9 | WebReference

The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites - HTML with Style | 9

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The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites

Useability

Once you know what you want to put on the Web and how you're going to put it there, you need to decide where exactly you're going to put it. Modern Web sites are labyrinthine monsters that can contain hundreds, even thousands of pages. It is important the users of your site can get to the information they require quickly and efficiently.

This means several things. First of all, make the structure of your site plainly visible, everywhere. Make sure the readers understand which part of the site they're in, what other sections exist, and make it easy to get to those sections by following as few links as possible. A set of simple Next / Previous / Up links is not enough. Use concise document titles, and keep links to the main sections of your site visible at all times. Never use rollovers when a permanently visible link will do. Many sites will use icons or buttons that are blank until you pass the mouse over them, making it time-consuming for the user to find out what his options are. Rollovers are nice for providing extra information, so, for instance, you could have a link to the "Products" section always visible and active, and have a sub-menu appear listing the subsections in the Products section when the user moves the mouse over the link.

When you use fancy techniques like JavaScript, Java, or Flash to provide navigation, make sure there's a fall-back. Not only will many readers be unable to view these links because they don't have the appropriate software or physical ability, search engines will be unable to follow these links and index your site.

Be careful with links in your text. If you go overboard, every word in your text could be a link to something else. Only use links when the link points to important, relevant information. Don't be afraid to use links. Many designers think that using links to other sites reduces their readership because people will click on the links and forget the rest of their site, but links do a lot more than that, as they exponentially increase the value of your site. There's only so much information you can offer yourself. Links make your pages useful because they let the reader know where to get more information about the topic.

On this subject, never, ever, use pop-up windows. Ever. If a user wants information in a new window, he can get this done on his own. Browsers have "Back" buttons for a reason.

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URL: http://www.webreference.com/html/watch/seven/8.html

Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou
Created: September 18, 2000
Revised: September 20, 2000