Everything in business has its own set of rules – unbreakable guidelines we follow to create a killer product, write an amazing app, or deliver a remarkable service. The following are the Ten Commandments of web design. Following these rules will help you create an amazing website for your business.
- Do not abuse Flash
Yes, Flash can be pretty cool, but don't overuse it. In fact, try to avoid using Flash wherever possible. About half of your visitors won't have the proper plug-in installed and will see a broken image rather than your cool new product video or animated robot.
- Do not use browser detection
Most web developers have their "favorite" web browser. This is sometimes just a personal preference and other times a result of using proprietary browser settings. Don't force your visitors to use any one browser just because you say so.
- Do not scroll sideways
Actually, try to avoid scrolling down, too. Whatever you have that loads first should be relevant. Anything that the user has to scroll to see will never be seen (and probably isn't important enough to even be there in the first place!).
- Respect the click-count
If it's important, it should be on the front page. Assume your visitors will never click more than once and build your site appropriately. Complicated sitemaps and documents trees will distract and eventually alienate your visitors.
- Check your links
Nothing will kill a site faster than a habit of placing broken or inaccurate links on the home page. Check functionality early and often.
- Do not over use links
Every external link is an avenue through which people will leave your website. If you're truly respecting the click-count you'll remember that visitors will only click once — meaning they won't click back to your site if they leave.
- Keep your content relevant
Nothing sucks more than seeing a "Coming in Fall 2004" on a website you visit in 2009. Keep your website current and up-to-date. If you set deadlines—or blog update schedules—for yourself, make sure you keep them!
- Test your site in multiple browsers
OK, you run the latest update of Windows Vista with the most recent Beta version of Firefox and your site looks great. Now what about a visitor on a Mac using Safari? What about Frank's sister who is still browsing with IE6 on Windows ME? Make sure your site will work in all of the popular browsers (and that is looks the same!).
- Do not charge for your content
If it's online, chances are good that it's online somewhere else for free. Don't ever charge your visitors for access to your content!
- There are no rules in web design
Every website is different and is intended to serve a different goal. While these commandments will help the majority of web designs, they are in no way exhaustive or perfect — neither are the multitude of other "Web Design Ten Commandments" Google will find. Keep that in mind as you look for guidelines to perfect your own site.