Don't just take my word for it

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10 Golden Rules of Web Design

  1. Be Clear

    Clarity is at the heart of the other 9 "Golden Rules". It is the key to effectively presenting information.

  1. Content is King

    People have come to your site for information or entertainment, not to be amazed by your Web designing abilities. In fact, to go a step further, your design is a success if visitors to your page are totally unaware of it.

  2. Make Navigation Easy

    People rely heavily on being able to move easily around the internet. Simple effective navigation is a key feature of a good Web site. There is a lot of code out there that can be used to fancy-up navigation but unless it makes the navigation better (not just prettier) don't use it.

    A prime example of fancy navigation that is totally unusable can be found on the prestigious Brown University's Web Site.

  3. More is Worse

    This goes hand in hand with rule 1. Imagine a page of text with a short stripe of fluorescent marker on it. That short highlighted passage will have impact. Now imagine the whole page covered with it. Every highlighted passage or word after the first reduces the impact of the original highlighted passage.

  4. Cut to the chase

    Being coy with your information, images or video is a sure way to lose a visitor. Some people say goldfish have a 5 second attention span which makes it about 2 seconds longer than the average Web surfer. Give people what they came for immediately. This also goes for keeping your pages to a manageable size.

    If you have 500 photographs of your chihuahua don't put them all on the same page, split them into a few pages or better still pick a single representative image and offer a link to a page with the other 499 images on it.

  5. Two main colours maximum

    Other than black and white 2 main colours are generally enough. Shades of your selected colours can be used to indicate altered states e.g. links that have been visited. Some sites employ more than two colors but it is extremely unlikely that you'll find more than two used in high quantities. You may find wellstyled.com's colour matcher useful when making this decision.

    While we're at it two fonts is also enough. There are a lot of different fonts. There are no prizes for using them all.

  6. "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

    Although Henry Louis Mencken died before there was such a thing as the World Wide Web his quote could easily have read- Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the average Web user. Make all controls, links and navigation as simple and easy to use as possible.

  7. Side scrolling is never acceptable

    Even if you are Korg keyboards or Whitesnake side scrolling is unacceptable. Do whatever it takes to avoid this. It is very, very, very annoying.

  8. "Just because you can, don't!

    When learning something the temptation is always there to use it straight away. Resist this urge. Only use what is appropriate and refer to rule 4.

  9. Provide contact information

    Including a way for visitors to contact you is a good idea. People may wish to tell you about an error you have, invite you to their site with similar interests or even offer to buy your whole site turing you into a .com millionaire! BEWARE some unscrupulous types can write programs to find email addresses in web pages and automatically send you spam. You'll have to weigh this one up for yourself but I personally believe it is better to accept this as the price of maintaining a web presence than to make your site all one way traffic.