There are a few Web site design guidelines that everyone that is putting together a new website should keep in mind in order to attract more traffic to their site because there’s nothing like a poorly designed site to instantly lose traffic and alienate potential visitors. While there are some exceptions to this rule, for the most part, this holds true for the majority of Web sites out there.
You can have the best-written content and the most targeted keywords on the Web, but if your website is visually jarring or completely confusing navigation-wise, you might be missing out on some potential traffic.
Web Site Design Guidelines for a Search-Friendly Site
How do you make your site optimized for search engines? One thing to remember is that you’re not only designing to appeal to your visitors, but also to the search engine spiders. There are a few principles to keep in mind while designing your site to be search engine friendly. These are just very basic principles.
- Make your text readable. Frantically busy backgrounds that obscure the text are not only hard to read but can make your site look unprofessional. Make your text readable: standard size (Web standard is 12), no silly fonts that have to be painstakingly interpreted, and make sure whatever font color you pick is readable as well (black is the preferred text color).
- Make your navigation clear. How many sites have you been to that give you the dreaded “page not found” error? This can be avoided by making your site hierarchy clear and consistent. Make sure that your navigation tools are obvious, and don’t cloud them up with catchy titles. You’ll also want to include a site map or index page for any site that’s got more than 10 pages, just for clarity.
- Images. Every image on your site should be there for a strategically important reason, giving context to the content that is front and center, made for those customers and users who are looking for it. Images should be made accessible for those searchers who might have their images turned off due to slow download times and give every image an “alt” label and a corresponding text link. Use graphics that won’t give your users a headache as well; as in, no flashing, throbbing, or strobe lights.
- Overall Effect. While there are many great technologies out there that can make your website very interesting, some of these tend to increase download time and should be considered carefully. Make sure that whatever technologies you are using to spiff up your pages that they don’t hide the overall message of your website. In addition, it’s important to be consistent with your site design. Make sure that every page in your site has some element that ties it in with the rest of the site; otherwise, visitors can be confused by the conflicting design.
Search Engine Friendly Site Design is User-Friendly, Too
The bottom line in designing your site for search engines is to remember that you need to keep the user in mind as well. It’s a tricky balance, designing for computer programs AND searchers, but if you keep these general principles in mind you’ll have a good start.
|Search Engines||Search Engine Users|
|Search engines love content.||Users love content.|
|Search engines feed on keywords and this is what powers listings.||Users use keywords, and if you’ve optimized your site, they’ll find you.|
|Search engines are turned off by poor design.||Search engine users are turned off by poor design.|
|Search engines can’t easily navigate a poorly designed site.||Search engine users don’t have the patience to navigate a poorly designed site.|
For more information on how to design your sites for search engines, check out this free search engine friendly site design tutorial. You’ll also want to read more about search engine optimization in order to understand the bigger picture of how to design your site for search.