If you are just starting out, BE SURE TO READ THE FOLLOWING!

Websites are built for many reasons: e-commerce, file sharing, communication, disseminating news and many other purposes. For almost anything one can use the internet to obtain information which is hosted on those websites. However, the presentation of the website plays an integral role in shaping the way visitors perceive the site and form their impressions of the business. A website is similar to a physical location (except for the fact that it is in cyberspace) so when someone views your site, it is as if they are entering your physical premises. No one wants to shop in a store where the clerks are ill-mannered, rugged in appearance and very difficult to speak with. Therefore, the appearance of the website, how user-friendly it is, how long it takes to load and how well content is presented, all determine how much time a user will spend on the page and whether or not he/she will return.

In order to keep your visitors' attention and to make them interested so that they return to your site, it should be meticulously prepared in every area. It should be exclusive and unique. A good website design focuses on the key elements that determine how the user interacts with the site and how content is displayed taking into consideration the user's attention span, patience and internet speed. The following should help guide you when preparing your website:

(1) Accessibility Design:
    Users should be able to access all parts of the website with ease. All buttons and navigation tabs should be clearly visible and easy to find. A sitemap is a good way to guide your visitors around so that they find what they are looking for quickly and without much difficulty. Many long steps or jumping from page to page to access a bit of information can often be frustrating and result in a loss of interest. Visitors will therefore navigate away from your site to find a less complicated site. Ensure that your site is straight-forward. Users should not have to load more than two pages to buy a product or you won't be selling anything.

(2) Interface and Layout Design:
    Your content should be presented in a neat and logical manner that is easy to follow. The interface is what the user sees and how he/she will interact with the site. Make your site as user-friendly as possible by placing the most relevant information at the top and less important information at the bottom. Make forms easy to fill out with helpful examples. If it's a site for kids, then add colorful boxes and arrange information in a way that would maintain their attention for prolonged periods. Know your target and design it accordingly. Content-based sites should be legible with simple font types and moderate text sizes. High contrasting colors can be distracting to the reader. Keep in mind that your site should have a decent display of professionalism so your visitors know you are all about business.

(3) User Experience Design:
    Assume that your user is well-versed with using the internet and be free to integrate flash elements, JavaScript drop downs, videos and any other element that you think would boost the look and feel of your site. However, don't over-do it with blinking text and other animations that would scream "amateur" to your visitors. In addition, do not go about explaining how to use the elements (remember that we are assuming they know of them) but rather focus on other vital content. Keep your design moderate but stylish.

(4) Graphical Design:
    One of the functional areas of presenting information on the internet is the use of graphics. Using images can help to present information in a more interesting and fun manner that is liable to keep the reader's attention for longer periods of time. However, too many images will cause the page to load very slowly. Take care to use images of a low resolution and size.

Many graphics editing programs have a set resolution for web graphics. The smaller you can make a file without compromising much quality would be better for your site, as users tend to navigate away from sites that are too time-consuming to load.Having a good design all takes much time and care. Not all users would like your design and be able to freely use it but aim to capture as much traffic as you can. Building a website to reflect professionalism and to capture interest isn't hard but you want to keep your visitors interested for prolonged periods. User-friendly sites are always the highest ranked sites.