This page is one in a series of Web design guide pages and lists some
recommendations for overall Web site design.
Web site design is critical to the success of your web presence. As discussed
below, planning a site is everything.
Develop a Simple "Home Page"
Your site should have one page which serves as the "master index"
of your site. The home page must describe your services, entice uses
to read on, and present a logical way for users to read the other information
on your site. Yet, the home page is the one page that must be the most
restricted in content! If your home page contains extensive graphics
or data it may take too long to load over slow modem lines and deter
potential customers. The rule of thumb in the industry is that the page
should not take more than twenty seconds to load. Of course, given the
vast numbers and types of connections on the Internet, it is impossible
to estimate what every user will experience. Still, using a modem with
average speed (9600 baud) will give a reasonable estimate of performance.
Ideally, the home page will be small enough to completely fit on the
screen. To design for this, you should build to the size of an average
IBM compatible screen resolution of 640x480. Given that most browsers
(such as Netscape) take a good deal of real estate to display menus
and buttons, the actual space you have to work with is 620x300 (not
very much). To keep your home page small yet still convey the message
you want is not easy!
The Site Map
The home page acts as the master index, but the overall design of the
web site must be planned carefully. A site which uses the home page
as a large table of contents for all of the site's content might be
too confusing for customers. The information will seem overwhelming
and you may lose their interest. On the other hand, a site with numerous
"index" or "menu" pages may end up being a never-ending
path that may leave users frustrated looking for the content. A well-balanced
and logical organization of pages can be designed using a tool called
the "site map."
The site map visually defines how the major pages are related. Below
is an example of a site map for York Associates' web site.
It is important to provide a good balance of information so your customers
are not intimidated by extraordinarily long pages, but are also not
lost in a complex maze of documents.