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Web Design Tips and Tricks

At Freeservers.com, we make our living hosting and designing websites, so we've learned some valuable lessons about what makes a good website. Here are a few simple tips we've picked up over the years that will take you a long way in designing a user-friendly, professional-looking website.

Keep It Simple

Don't put too many "bells and whistles" on your pages. Websites that use flashing banners and dancing animations may be flashy, but they take ages to load for poor dial-up users. If your page takes longer than 60 seconds to load, you risk losing your visitors to a faster, simpler site.

Keep It Small

Don't let huge image files drag down your site's load time. Save your images in the format known as .jpeg or .jpg. This type of file can be compressed into a smaller size, and small is good. Remember, the larger the file size, the longer the image will take to load. If any of your images are measured in megabytes (mb), they're too big. Get your images down to a more manageable kilobyte (kb) level by making them smaller with your image editing program.

Don't Splash

Nothing should come between your visitors and their use of your site - especially your home page. "Splash screens," which require the user to click on a button or logo to get to the first page of content, may be fun for web designers, but they act as a barrier to your users. Your visitors came to your site to find out what you have to say, so don't make it harder for them to get to it. The more buttons visitors have to click to find the part of your site they want, the more likely they are to get fed up and go somewhere more accessible. Every page of your site should be within two to three clicks of your home page. Before you actually create your site, sketch out the site map on paper to make sure every page is easily accessible.

Get Your Own Domain

Take the time to register your site's own distinct name, rather than being a subdivision of some larger site. Would you visit a retailer that was located in the back of another business' storefront? Your website is your storefront in the virtual world - make it as distinctive and professional as possible. This is especially important if you participate in e-commerce, as you want to be able to certify to your customers that you are the site's legitimate owner. There are lots of options for registering your domain name, but one simple solution is to registering your domain through your web hosting company. If you register with one company and then go through another to host it, you may end up paying transfer fees.

Name Your Pages

As you create your site, take a few seconds to give each page an appropriate title. Nothing looks less professional than a website with pages called "untitled1.htm." Use simple, descriptive names that tell your visitors where they are, such as "'gallery.html" or "drawings.html." Try to avoid blank spaces in your titles as well, as they may show up as code (such as "%20") in the browser - not the end of the world, but it's always better to keep things clean.
Designing a sleek, friendly website really isn't as hard as it seems, and if you take these tips, you'll be significantly ahead of the game. Get designing!
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