In order to be a big success on the Internet, having a visually attractive site is not enough. The site must be easy to surf. Besides, it must be usable —it must be surfed by many people in any context. In order to make a site easy to surf, Web designers bear in mind graphic design aspects together with programming aspects and other technical issues, and therefore they can guarantee a website that is easy to visualize and surf. Next we will mention the criteria to consider when making an easy-to-surf site:
Adhere to a standard
A website is properly viewed in most browsers if it adheres to W3C’s standards; i.e., if it follows the guidelines to the development of websites. The main recommendation is to separate text —HTML or XHTML— from the visual presentation —CSS or another style language. W3C organization establishes clear guidelines to have an effective website.
Validate contents and presentation
It is important to use the programs offered by W3C (which are free) in order to corroborate that a website adheres to the necessary guidelines to be viewed in every browsers.
Use the proper format for images
Images on the website must have the right format since, otherwise, the site will take long to load and it will have bad quality images. For those photos and images with gradients and tone variations, JPEG format must be used, due to their quality and compression. For those images with solid color and definite lines, GIF must be used.
Use a few graphics
The more graphics you put on a website, the longer it will take to load. Therefore, it is advisable to use the necessary graphics —those that have a function.
Control image size
Heavy images, i.e., big-sized ones, considerably increase the loading time. It is important that a site loads quickly, since users do not wait long. In order to speed up the loading, the size of the images must be inferior to 50Kbs.
Use progressive load
In order to keep users, you should use the progressive load of graphics. Thus, images start to pop out while the site is loading.
Use percent sizes
It is important to avoid design with fixed sizes, since this causes troubles in the view from different devices. By designing with percent sizes, a website can be properly viewed in the entire equipment.
Design a surfing system
The Web designer uses different elements to make it easy-to-surf. Some of them are:
General structure: Every page on a site must have a definite structure that guides users. It is important to visually present the hyperlinks to the different pages —buttons are usually used.
Navigation bar: The navigation bar is the tool that allows the users to search the information they want inside a website. Many times predefined search categories are included.
Icons with alternative text: All the icons on the website must have a text description, since many times the users do not have the graphics option activated and this can make surfing easier.
Repeated elements and return: It is important that hyperlinks are located on different parts on every page, at the beginning or at the end, to make surfing easier. On long pages, a return to the top link has to be included. A return to homepage link has to be added too.
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