You should follow these web page design tips if you're going to build a site for a web business. Not necessarily in the order that they're listed, but you really should follow these web page design tips:

1. When you link to other sites, open a new browser window for them. This way, you'll not lose your visitors when they choose to visit sites that you recommend. You can do so by using the tag target="_blank". Here's an example:

Normal (open the new site in the same window): <a href="http://www.site's_name.com">

Open a new window for the new site: <a href="http://www.site's_name.com" target="_blank"

2. If you are affiliated with a company, you might not want your visitors to know this fact.

Though the visitor may realize the affiliation after he gets to that site, most webmasters try to hide this fact. I don't think this is quite ethical, but, just in case you want to do this, I'll teach you how to do it in a simple and effective manner.

What you have to do is to link to the site that you're affiliated with indirectly. To do this you'll have to create a page specially designed for this purpose. It will be a neat kind of page that will have the property of redirecting the visitor automatically to the site that you want.

To better understand what I'm saying and to learn how to do it, read the following instructions. Note that HTML knowledge helps in understanding all this.

So, first, instead of linking to the company's site, link to a specially created "xyz.htm" file; where "xyz" is preferably the name of the company that runs the affiliate program.

So the link will be to "http://yourdomain/xyz.htm".

The xyz.htm file that you'll create will contain this text:

<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; URL=http://the_complicated_link_that_the_affiliate_program_sets-up_for_you">
<title></title>
<head>
<body></body>
</html>

This page will seamlessly send your visitor to the company's site, leaving significantly less chances for him to realize that you had an interest in sending him there.

There is of course the other approach to this whole matter: tell your visitor right from the start that you are affiliated with that certain company instead of keeping it a secret. Make sure you convince him first that you chose that company mainly because it provides great services or products. Also make sure that you do exactly that - choose a great company to affiliate with.    :o)

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3. If you have some pages that you don't want to be listed in the search engines, there is a "meta tag" that specifies just that:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow">

Most search engine robots will take this meta tag into account.

4. Cut down on your graphics. This is one of the most important web page design tips presented here. Besides the fact that graphics take a lot of time to load and thus increase the time that the visitor has to wait until he gets to see your page, they usually don't offer your visitors much - besides beauty and color of course. The real thing that most surfers are after is good quality information in the form of text, that also has the advantage of taking less space (bytes) and can be read by search engine robots.

Whenever you post a graphic, use alt tags so when the picture doesn't load for a reason or another, the visitor will still be aware of the meaning of that picture. Learn a little HTML and you'll know what I'm talking about. For a free HTML course please visit www.draac.com .

5. Don't use banners unless you have no other choice. The response to them has dropped and still does dramatically. It seems that the human brain learns very quickly to avoid noticing them. My own experience makes me agree with this. When I was new to the Internet I used to watch and read every single banner. Now I really don't do that anymore.

I think that less than 1% of the banners capture my attention now, because I'm looking for real content, for information. That's why only the webmasters who use words can capture my attention. If I feel them enthusiastic about the things they recommend, then I consider taking a look for myself at the sites that they talk about.

Answer yourself this question: When was the last time when you willingly clicked on a banner? (Some banners trick you into thinking that they're something else to make you click them.)

6. Writing is usually the main purpose for the existence of the webmaster. That's why, as a webmaster, you have to know how to write properly. But most of all, you have to know how to design the things that you write so that they can be easily read. Too often webmasters use strange combinations of colors like yellow on a white background or red on blue background. They are very hard - if not impossible - to read. My advice for you is to stick to the black fonts on a white background. Though not very original, it proves to be the best choice.

The actual fonts are important too. The only ones that I can recommend are, besides Times New Roman, the Arial and Verdana fonts. Most people have them on their computers and they are easy to read. For example, I used Verdana in this site. Does it look bad?

7. The use of subheadings written in bold and colored fonts brings beauty to the page and eases up the process of reading. Most people also love when bullets are used to list various ideas.

8. Write in small blocks and put a space between them. Never write "a sea of words". People get scared easily by long paragraphs and leave faster the sites that use them. This is one of the most important web page design tips.

9. Limit your site's pages to 2, maximum 3 full screens. (I don't follow this rule to keep my site easily navigable.) When an individual turns into a web surfer, he suddenly gets very hurried. Very long pages make him leave - he doesn't have the time to read that much.

Your salesletter is however an exception. It's actually recommended for it to be longer, to provide as much information as possible. Not too long though... I've seen some sales letters that had well over 20 full screens. Who has the patience and the time to read them? If you have that much to say, please post the information in more than a single page.

10. When you write, do it like you're speaking with one person and one person only. Let the reader feel your personality, trust you and get to know you. Create a special bond with him. If you can not do this (perhaps the theme doesn't allow you) the least you can do is be sincere. People will certainly feel and appreciate this.

11. Optimize your site for all resolutions starting with 640x480. There are still people that use low resolution monitors. Why make it hard for them to navigate and read your pages? You should also take care and see how your pages look at different color depths and modify the colors that you use as necessary.

12. About 80% of the surfers use Microsoft's Internet Explorer and almost all the rest of 20% use Netscape Navigator. Many of them use old versions of these browsers so be sure to check how your pages look in as many types of browsers as you can and to modify them accordingly.

13. When you send out your e-zine (or any other e-mail), use the name of the person you want to contact. She/he will feel that you personally took care of that e-mail. Even if you are using an autoresponder and they realize it, they will still appreciate that you know how to run your business.

14. Don't use frames. They create very many problems with all kinds of browsers and it had also been reported to make it hard to rank well in the search engines. I think I can live without using them! You might think so too.

15. Don't use music in your website. Most people (including me) hate music inside a site. It extends the time to download the page, sometimes (usually) crushes the browser and it might even hang the visitor's computer. Besides, in 90% of the cases the music is, or sounds, really bad. If you still want to put some music, include a button to select play/stop and make sure that you choose a nice tune with good sound quality. Visitors don't care much about your musical preferences - they care about theirs!

16. Usually, the navigational system inside a site is located on the left side of the page. If you want your visitors to pay attention to your content first, place it on the right side of the page, or even all the way down the page, right above the copyright statement. The last solution might be a little too dramatic though. It will be very hard for your visitors to find their way inside your site and thus many will leave rather early.

17. Very important: spell the words right and respect the rules of grammar. I'm not an expert at this (English is not my native language), but I'm trying really hard. It's a strange thing, but when I find in an otherwise well written (or with good content) site a spelling mistake, I always think to myself: "Was it that hard to read this page one more time? The mistake would've been obvious to anybody. It means that they didn't took the time to read it. That's bad business!"

Fact: I was reading the Terms Of Service of an otherwise respected company and guess what: I found not one, but three (or were there four?) spelling mistakes. I find this thing really stupid! The TOS should be perfectly written. There must be no place for misinterpretation. Anyway, I kept on reading the whole page just to search for more mistakes, but I was already convinced: I was not going to use their service!

18. Too much bright color is bad design. It makes people physically sick because their eyes are overwhelmed by those shouting colors!

19. Simpler is better! People admire complicated things, they are even fascinated by them, but they love the simple ones. Nobody likes to do or learn complicated, difficult things. And most of all, people like to easily find their way in everything, especially inside a site.

20. Faster is better! This is obviously true when it comes to our everyday life. But on the net it is even more important. Many people still have slow dial-up connections. A page should take under 30 seconds to load even for them. Keep this in your mind when you design the site.

30 seconds when? When a person is connected at 28 Kbps per second. That means 28/8=3.5 kbytes per second. 3.5*30=105 Kbytes. This is how big your biggest page should be (graphics included). But, what I really recommend is to limit your pages at well under 30-40 Kbytes. Keep them as small as you can so you'll not waste bandwidth. It's easy to accomplish this if your site has only a few graphics.

Conclusion? Smaller is better! (in web design that is... ;-)

21. DON'T WRITE TOO MANY LINES LIKE THIS ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They make your site look very unprofessional, and on the internet they are interpreted as shouting.

Note: There are other aspects to take care of when designing a website, but the ones that I told you about are the most important ones. Respect them and everything will be more than OK.

Related articles:

Using WYSIWYG HTML editors

How to choose a good domain name

Inexpensive website hosts

How to advertise your website

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Articles

1. A basic business plan
2. Finding website hosts
3. Accepting credit cards
4. Forming an LLC
4. Keyword identification
5. Finding a search engine optimization firm
6. Developing a product
7. How to create an online store
8. E-commerce and sales letter guidelines
9. Using affiliate programs
10. A bonus business idea
11. Why use WYSIWYG HTML editors
12. Web page design tips
13. How to choose a good domain name
14. Web hosting businesses
15. Starting with a hosting reseller program
16. How to advertise your website
17. The philosophy that leads to success
18. Resources
19. Glossary

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