Now that you've established your design goals and learned how to use graphics effectively, you can fine-tune your site design. This article contains some final thoughts on tips to include and traps to avoid.
First the tips:
* Break pages into separate tables. For example, put your heading and navigation menu into a separate table at the top of your pages. Your browser will render that table as soon as it finds its end. This approach improves the perceived speed of your site, and it gives your visitors the chance to use the navigation menu before the rest of the page finishes downloading.
* Test with all browsers you want to support. If you can, use your site statistics to determine which browsers your visitors use the most, then use those browsers to test any changes you make to your site. If you don't have (and don't want to have) all the necessary browsers, get help from others who do.
* Create a site map. A site map illustrates how your site is organized so visitors can find what they are looking for. For example, you can display an image showing your page relationships with navigational hot spots, or create a hierarchic arrangement of page title links.
* Create printer-friendly pages. If you expect visitors to print certain pages on your site (e.g. recipe pages), consider removing elements that clutter the printed output with useless information, like navigation and advertising sidebars.
Now for the traps:
* Use plug-ins like Flash strictly for non-essential elements of your site. Assume people are not willing to load random programs from the Internet onto their computers.
* Use animations and sound purposefully, like to demonstrate how something works or sounds. Purposeless animations and sound rapidly progress from cool, to boring, to annoying.
This article is the last installment of the design series. The next series of articles covers issues relating to Web site hosting and development. Stay tuned!
In the next issue: Selecting Web Site Hosting and Development Services