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Design Tips: Do's & Don'ts

Words of Wisdom: "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!"

Do It!

  • Make sure your site looks good in the major browsers and on popular mobile devices. You don't have to obsess for pixel-perfect precision, but you don't want unexpected surprises either.
  • Provide "alt tags" for all images. Make the alt tag description for each image clear. "My New Car" tells a visitor almost nothing. "My 2016 Silver BMW" tells a whole lot more.
  • Keep your font choices simple but experiment with Google fonts. You can add a bit of fun to headings, etc. Just don't overdo it. The best practice is to keep regular text in sans-serif so it is easier to read on the screen. You can use either serif or sans-serif fonts for headings in an appropriately larger size.
  • Learn the basics of HTML. No program can produce "perfect" code and you will need to tweak the code in some circumstances. If there is something you can't edit or fix in design view, looking at the code and understanding how you can change it will make your site work better, look better, and download faster.
  • Learn the basics of CSS or at least enough to make minor changes rather than adding HTML markup code to your pages.
  • Use upper and lower case in your content areas and use all caps sparingly for emphasis. A paragraph using all caps IS DIFFICULT TO READ. DON'T DO IT!
  • Limit the number of colors you use on your site and keep your color use consistent across your site. Color is a way for people to identify things. If your links are purple, then don't use the same color and size for text emphasis. People will try to click on it. I typically use 2-3 shades of the same color and one accent color in my sites.
  • Use a consistent layout. If your sidebar is always on the left, keep it there. Switching from left to right confuses visitors.


Don't Do It!

  • Forget the animated gifs, ticker tape text effects, and things that continue to blink. If anything moves on your site (other than a JavaScript application like a slideshow or carousel), it should be very subtle. Forget about the clever mouse trails and the hopping bunny and the snow... remember the snow? Check the newer sites in your state or surrounding states and see what they are doing. Then do it.
  • Don't make visitors hunt for links by using obscure words or hiding your navigation. You typically have five seconds or less to grab your readers' attention. Make it clear and easy to see what your site is about.
  • Never cut and paste from any Microsoft office application like Word. This brings along "MSO schema" information that can have unwanted results if it overwrites your style sheet. Copy from Word and paste into Notepad (or other plain text editor.) Then copy from Notepad and paste into your web editing program. You can then format as necessary. FREE OpenOffice or LibreOffice doesn't have the same issues. You can open a Word document there and change it to an .odt document. It strips all of the MS coding.
  • While Expression Web V.4 is far superior to the now outdated FrontPage 2003, technology moves forward at a rapid pace. Stop using FrontPage as it's so outdated. 
  • Music... Please, no music. If you must have music (no music, please), then make sure you have a VERY visible OFF button. If I hear music on a site I'm visiting, I "x-out" immediately.
  • Please don't center everything on your page. Imagine reading a book with everything centered! It's too much.

Never stop learning. Keep your mind open to new technology!

Updated by AB June 2021

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