Back in my day
We’ve come a long way with Internet design. I started coding HTML back in 1992 roughly 3 years before HTML 2.0 was formalized. I was 12. I’ve seen a lot of evolution of web design over the years, starting out with basic text pages with links to other text pages.
We went through a phase when graphic designers ran amock on the Internet and almost ruined it for us all by using tables within tables within tables and 1 pixel by 1 pixel placeholder images. It was a dark time.
Then CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) pulled layout apart from content. I still see real estate sites that haven’t adopted CSS, even though it’s been around since 1996. CSS was a great movement in the evolution of web design.
Thanks for the nostalgic slide show gramps
Fast forward (beyond Flash, beyond resolution-based design, beyond browser-specific design) to today. HTML 5 is just around the corner and it is going to make layout and design much simpler. I encourage you to take a look at this article before going on. Below is an image showing the basic page structure layout of HTML 5.
The part I’m hoping you’ll notice is that the navigation is across the top. It has been determined by people smarter than me, that for web usability, navigation should be across the top. So here’s tip #1:
If your primary navigation is running down the sides of your page, you may want to consider moving it. Have it be above the fold. Trying to be clever and different is great, but not when it comes to helping your site visitors navigate your site.
Right at this very moment, you are reading a blog. You probably have your own (or two or three). These are considered Web 2.0 because of the essense of community and interactivity (think the comments box below). We’re all connected via email, Twitter, Facebook and countless other methods. People like to share information. So here’s tip #2:
Make it as easy as possible to share information. Please don’t hide your RSS Feed. They standardized on the orange icon for a reason – so it stands out and is easily recognizable. Place it near the top in an obvious location. Use Feedburner so your users have their choice of how they want to get your information.
Also, give your users the EASY option to email your site to people. I have problems with local and national news sites frequently NOT making this process easy and as an efficient web users, it is one of the most annoying aspects of browsing. AgentGenius and I use a tool called ShareThis (you can see it right below the article). There are several others out there, so pick one you like as long as it allows users to easily pass your web site along to their friends. These tools also allow users to easily share your site or article on a variety of social networking sites.
Feed my addiction
In college, friends joked that I had “seen the Internet”, now they don’t like telling me to check out a site because the first words out of my mouth frequently are “what a terrible site”. I have plenty of tips that I’ll be sharing, but these are a couple to get you and those you know started.