Ten Commandments of Web Design - Wisdom Collected Over the Years (in no particular order)

Thou Shalt Not Scroll Unless Absolutely necessary:

  •   Don't force a visitor to scroll left or right or up and down unless you have a darn good reason. Sites that say “best viewed at 1024 x 768″ really say “look at it my way because I don’t care about your preferences or limitations.”

Thou Shalt be Consistent:

  •   Have a Visual Theme throughout your web site. In other words, make each page look the same: Color, Style & Layout, everything looks the same from page to page. It makes your visitors feel comfortable & know what to expect.

  •   For instance, include a standard navigational structure in the same place on every page. Users should be able to find every major section of a site no matter what page they're on.

  •   Stick with the same Text & Font colors in all your pages. Text links, too. Blue: hyperlink; Purple: visited hyperlink; Red: active hyperlink, for instance, find a color scheme and stick with it.

Thou Shalt Load Fast:

  •   Every entry page on your site should be under 100 kilobytes in size, including graphics and navigation. 50 kilobytes is better. Interior pages can run larger, but the “front door” index pages of your site should not make visitors wait long to start interacting with the site. If you must use large graphics use thumbnails and image slicing to diminish the size of every file to lessen load times.

Thou Shalt Not Require Downloading to View Thy Content:

  •   If you want users to see your resume, don't force them to open Word to do it. Downloading is a pain and usually unnecessary. Also people worry downloads carry viruses. Most of the time simple copy and paste will suffice.

  •   Obviously you can have a Word or Adobe formatted link for reference, but don't make Downloading the only way to view the content. Also avoid any content that requires opening another new application or special, nonstandard “plug-ins” unless you have a good reason.

Thou Shalt Not Annoy:

  •   Don't blink, bounce or use pop-up ads. Don't use "Splash" pages, like inane Flash full-page animations that say “Skip Intro.” This “eye candy” rarely adds to a site’s main purpose and often causes your visitors to miss something or abandon your site in frustration.

Thou Shalt Tell Users Where a Link Goes:

  •   Give users as much information about where the link will take them before actually forcing them go there. Don't make a user click on something to find out what it is. It's rude and unprofessional.

  •   Label your links clearly. If the link goes to your resume, then label it Resume. Tell users where they're going before they go there by using Roll-over's: When users roll over your buttons, it means they're curious about what the link contains & want more information about it. If the name of the link disappears in a frenzy of technological wizardry it looks impressive but can distract from the main purpose users roll over buttons: to get more information!

Thy Site Shall be Easy to Navigate

  •   No page should be more than 2 clicks from any other page. Also, users should be able to get back to your "home" page from any of your other pages, and can tell where they are in the grand scheme of your web site. 

  •   Don't assume a user can just use the browser's "back" button. Some people may have stumbled upon a sub-page of your site via a search engine rather than through the link you intended.

Thou Shalt Be Compassionate on Thy Fellow Humans Who Have Physical Limitations or whose Access is Otherwise not as Fortunate as Thy Own

  •   Some people surf the web from public libraries or using software not of their own choosing. Some people have physical disabilities which require them to use special browsers that help compensate for their challenges. 

  •   Blind people, for instance, use special speech synthesizers to read the text of web pages - so if your page contains nothing but graphics, it is not going to provide them with much information.  Make your text large, clearly visible, and easily readable.

Thou Shalt Not Have More than 5 Main Buttons on Thy index Page:

  •   Any more that 5 main buttons to choose from confuses users and indicates laziness of the designer. Admit it: Some of those links could be lumped together into subcategories with drop down menus to make things more better.

Thou Shalt Not make Users Click Unnecessarily

  •   Over-clicking is a form of user-abuse! The less clicking the better. Don't force people to click just because you can. It isn't always necessary to click to activate content. Scrolling is easier than clicking. Less is more! Minimalism in web design is a virtue!

Thou Shalt Separate thy Code from thy Content

  •   Contemporary Web standards and just plain-old elegant web design dictate that you control your pages with separate, external styling sheets removed from the presentation itself.

  •   This means that you control all the colors; all the images; all the positions of everything; the whole design of your site from one place, a separate document remote from your pages.

  •   It makes your files smaller, more accessible, streamlined and more flexible. Also, when you need to change something, you don't need to make that change on every page individually.

  •   Plus it makes you look like you know what you are doing …