The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites - HTML with Style | 8 | WebReference

The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites - HTML with Style | 8


The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites


It is very important that your pages be accessible by as many people as possible. The main problem with accessibility is that most people don't even realise it's an issue. Many clients who've asked me re-design their sites were quite surprised when I told them that their previous efforts were illegible by a huge proportion of their audience.

Accessibility has many facets. One of them is browser compatibility. Your page needs to be legible under most, if not all, browsers on the market. 100% compliance is very difficult, but at the very least you need to please the vast majority of readers.

This is one case where feature bloat really is a hindrance. Using the latest and greatest technology is a good thing, but often it means that you're cutting people off. This is not always the case, however. It is the Web designers job to implement new technology in a way that provides a useful fall-back for user agents that don't support it. JavaScript pop-up menus for navigation are a great thing, but make sure there's a good old text index there as well for people with older browsers or those who have JavaScript disabled.

Another important aspect is access for the disabled. Many people consider this of minor economic importance, but that's a very cold attitude to take. This is not the Middle Ages. Disabled people are a fully functional part of our society, and an economic force to be reckoned with. Giving them access to your site is not all that hard, can give you benefits both in the way of added customers and better public relations, and keeping them in mind helps you think of your site as a logical structure instead of screen gloss. A site that can be accessed by a blind person is also a site that has a coherent structure, a graphics-light design and the right information in the right places.

Finally, realise that some of your most important readers are not people at all, but search engine robots. Search engines are the most important way for interested people to find your site. Using frames, skipping ALT attributes on your graphics and replacing text with multimedia makes their job impossible. This is one area where non-technical people haven't a clue. Making a site that will play nice with search engines is something you can't see unless you dig deep, look at the meta-information, evaluate the structure and understand the technologies used. However, asking for this quality is something that you must do when commisioning a Web site design.


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