"What makes a great web page?" People ask me this all the time, though they often encounter difficulty boiling the question down to so few words.
Every serious website operator wants to know how to create and maintain the best possible website that makes them the most money and builds the largest subscriber base!
The following "commandments" represent the ideals towards which every new or existing website should strive.
1. Thou shalt have a Purpose
Clearly define the site's purpose and ensure all content (pages, graphics and text) tightly focus on that purpose. Discard all extraneous material... only give people exactly what they came for!
2. Thou shalt be Lightweight
Use only small, fast loading graphics. If you must use large graphics use thumbnails and image slicing to diminish the size of every file to less than 12-15kb. Use standard optimized gif's and jpg's and avoid anything that requires the user to download a "plug-in" to view your content.
3. Thou shalt Load Fast
Each and every page on your site should weigh in under 30-60KB total, including graphics and navigation.
If your pages must be larger, such as the case with long, 1-page sales letters, make sure the top part of the page loads fast so surfers can read your headline and introduction while the rest of your sales letter loads further down and out of site.
4. Thou shalt not use False Code
5. Thou shalt respect the Search Engines
If you want search engine traffic, use whole web pages that don't incorporate frames. Search engines get confused trying to read content from most frames pages because the designers don't set them up with the proper information in the correct frame.
6. Love thy Surfers and Visitors
Design for "last year's" technology so surfers using 56K modems can download and use the site quickly and easily. If you design only for people with high-speed Internet connections (DSL and cable) you have eliminated 85%+ of your potential market.
7. Thou shalt not Annoy
Use only stationary text and graphical layout elements. No Scrolling text, marquees, or animations of any kind, including rollover buttons.
This "eye candy" steals valuable bandwidth and adds little to a site's main purpose, especially for returning visitors who just want information, not a carnival sideshow.
8. Thou shalt Not Scroll Left or Right
Design your pages so they never force a visitor to scroll left or right, no matter what the resolution settings on their monitor. Sites that read "best viewed at 800 x 600" really say "look at it my way because I don't care about your preferences or limitations."
9. Thou shalt stay Consistent
Include a standard navigational structure on every page. Though it may mean a serious challenge for the designer, users should only need to click once to find every major section of a site.
Also, this includes using standard link colors in all text links. Blue: hyperlink; Purple: visited hyperlink; Red: active hyperlink.
10. Thou shalt Know Thy Traffic
Use a site-wide statistics program that enables you to determine what brings someone to the site, where they go once they arrive, and when and where they leave.
This critical information helps with marketing efforts as well as identifying parts of the site that need tweaking or adjustment to help you increase sales. If everybody bails from your site at the same page, knowing this can help you change the page so people go from "bail mode" to "buy mode"!