10 Web Design Commandments

November 10, 2008

1. Thou shall not take too long to load.
Your pages should take no more than 5 seconds to load. The people you’re trying to talk to are busy and multi-tasking. When your site takes too long to load, they could easily click on the next search engine result.

2. Thou shall stay relevant and make sense.
When people use search engines, they usually know what they’re looking for. Let them know that you have exactly what they’re looking for. Use your content to do this for you.

3. Keep it simple and short.

4. Thou shall keep animation to a minimum

Make sure to keep your market’s attention where you want it. Unnecessary animation can get distracting and annoying within seconds. This could become a negative association with your brand that may be difficult to erase.

5. Thou shall make sure that the background stays at the back.
The mission of your background is to make the important things stand out. Without a background, your content will look flat and unappealing. However, steer clear from the temptation to over-decorate your background with dizzying patterns and colors that make the text difficult to read.

6. Thou shall be easy to read.
Acceptable font sizes range from 10 points to 15 points. Fonts smaller than size 10 strain the eyes. Excessively large fonts make your material look a lot longer than it really is. Extremes in font sizes discourage people from reading more. Pay attention to font colors and your site’s background. The best contrast is still a dark-colored font against a light background.

7. Thou shall make sure that web design elements match other marketing materials.
One sight, one sound. Make sure all materials are integrated, so that everything that represents your brand delivers the same message. The goal is to let the market get to know you and form a relationship with your brand. No matter how creatively brilliant your marketing collaterals are, they won’t work if your market ends up confused with different messages about your brand.

8. Thou shall be easily contacted.
Be generous with leaving your contact details all over the Internet. Think of it as making sure that everyone who is interested in your brand has your calling card. The challenge is to make sure that you position them where they are easy to find, but would not distract site visitors from browsing your content.

9. Thou shall make it easy to navigate.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target market. Arrange links and pages in a logical order, based on their purchase-decision process. Guide them from need recognition to comparing options, and finally, to making the purchase.

10. Thou shall design websites with an end in mind.
Focus on your brand by focusing on your customers. Provide them what they need and not just things that you want to focus on. Customers will appreciate it if you attempt to make a dialogue with them instead of just selling them things.