Evolution of the WebReference.com Home Page / Page 9 | WebReference

Evolution of the WebReference.com Home Page / Page 9


Evolution of a Home Page [con't]


Designing a Web site is not a one-time affair. The design, layout, and even content can change over time. Here's a summary of what we've learned going through this process:

Web Design Tips

  • Design a clean, simple logo
  • Use it and/or a metaphor throughout the site
  • Avoid forcing users to scroll where possible
  • Put important information/links "above the fold"
  • Use text for text, and graphics for graphics
  • Minimize the screen height of your graphics and layout
  • Maximize the screen width of your layout (600 pixels max, 544 for WebTV) (use WIDTH=100% instead)
  • Carefully crop, optimize, minimize the number and bit depth of all graphics
  • Optimize HTML for speed (front page should download in less than 8 seconds on 56K modem). See also WebSiteOptimization.com for more optimization details.
  • Create a scalable site structure (directories vs. .html files)
  • Think carefully about your site's organization. Design hierarchically for expansion
  • Use consistent, transparent navigation (toolbars top/bottom)
  • Use a database or consistent, streamlined site-wide templates/includes/css for easy updates
  • Automate as much as possible (site updates w/ RSS, DB, column creation/posting, newsletter creation, etc.)
  • Use short, descriptive labels/titles (see usability resources)
  • Put important keywords at beginning of headlines/titles/headers (not "yoursite.com - page 5 - usability resources")
  • Links: Don't change the default link colors/underline, user's expect underlined blue/purple links
  • Group site areas logically, preferably in groups of 5-7 items
  • Use white space where possible
  • Test on multiple platforms and browsers
  • Use height and width for images to speed display
  • Use alt text for images
  • For major changes, use a test page, don't play with the live page
  • Add new technologies and features if they are truly useful
  • Don't just link, create original content
  • Experiment, invite feedback, and have fun


  • JavaScript: Test and retest, there are bugs, some catastrophic
  • Place/load JavaScripts at the end of the page, for maximum page display speed
  • Optimize front page JavaScript/code (short variable names, removes extraneous characters)
  • Avoid scrolling text that distracts users from your content (we use a "flipper")

Original: January 26, 1997