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Lesson 9 Web site design
Objective Outline important Web site design considerations

Website Design

This lesson will provide tips for the design of a Web site. Keep two important concepts in mind when you are considering your eBusiness solutions:
  1. Not all eBusiness solutions involve a site.
  2. The architect will not necessarily be involved in the Web site design (if a Web site is required). However, he/she should have some basic understanding of what an effective Web site requires.

eBusiness netiquette

The considerations for the design of a Web site are part of the eBusiness Netiquette. Netiquette is a standard of behavior that governs development and usage of the Net. These standards are not legislated and there are no "Net police" to prosecute offenders, but ignoring them could result in the failure of your Web site. There are many more considerations that you also need to think about, many of which involve pure common sense.

Web site design considerations

There are several important considerations for Web site design. They include client-side considerations, balancing form with function, navigation, personality and tone, and providing contact information, and the importance of keeping the site up-to-date. These are discussed below.

Client capabilities

In a previous lesson in this module, we discussed different client-side considerations. It can be tempting for Web designers to "show off" their technical skills with leading-edge technology. However, if the client cannot view the results, this cutting-edge design may backfire and leave the customer disappointed in the quality of your enterprise's work. You should also remember those clients who may be using older systems and offer them alternatives to more advanced features that they may not be able to use. Always be careful not to make these clients or their systems sound inferior; simply provide less technologically daunting "alternatives." As with capabilities, configuration of the client device will influence the results. For example, a Web site designed to run on a screen resolution of 800X600 pixels will look too big on a screen set for 640X480 pixels, which will require the user to scroll the page vertically and horizontally to see the page contents. In this situation, there is a risk that the user may miss some vital information.

Important Points to Observe

  1. Balance pretty with practical in the design: Lots of graphics can make a site look really wonderful, but if the graphics take too long to download, clients may get bored or frustrated and go somewhere else.
  2. Navigation is important: Help the users find what they want quickly and easily, and don't let them get lost or confused. Too many links will distract users, and they may forget why they came to the site.
  3. Personality and tone: Set the personality and tone of the site in the home page and stick to it. Brand the site to give it an identity, which the user will remember.
  4. Tell the user who you are and how to contact you: Provide customer assistance and help features such as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
  5. Keep the site up-to-date: Don't keep expired information, events, or offers on display as if they were current. Update the site design and keep it interesting. Be careful not to change it too much or too often, as this can confuse users.
  6. Fix Broken Links: Test the site and make sure it works. If a user reports a problem, investigate and rectify it immediately. Get back to the user and inform them of the fix. The next lesson wraps up this module.