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It's been said again and again, when it comes to getting people to visit your site (and stay there for more than 5 seconds), the quality of your content rules supreme. But once you've bowed to interest, saluted relevance and cow-towed to originality, who else must you pay homage to for recognition in the court of website stickiness?
The two jewels in the crown of Presentation, for it is of course Presentation who is Queen, are structure and graphical design. Let's take a very brief look at them both.
Structure We're interested here in how you order the contents of your site, in how you link the different components and section together. Your objective is to make the experience of browsing your site as straightforward as possible for your visitors.
So how do you go about achieving a clear, intuitive structure? For larger more complicated sites it helps to draw a chart of all the pages, showing how they connect to each other (this process isn't such a bad idea for smaller sites either). Try and keep everything logical and stick to the '3 click rule' as much as possible. (The '3 click rule' - a user shouldn't have to click more than 3 times to get to a page).
Once you've worked out a logical site structure, the basis for your navigation system should pop out. Don't go and spoil it all by using a fancy (usually Flash) navigation system that's frustratingly difficult to work out!
Graphical design What you do with your design is generally down to personal taste and branding requirements. Take a look on the Internet and you'll see successful designs from the extremely detailed to the minimalist.
Note that whilst people will say 'but look at Google' to justify a plain (ugly!) design, well chosen color schemes and visual interest will give your site a positive boost.
No matter what style you go for, there are some rules that will always apply:
Logical structure and pleasing design make for intuitive navigation and an easier more enjoyable browsing experience. With just a little thought you'll be rewarded with visitors who pay more attention to your content and not the pain and effort needed to get to it.
Trevor Lewis has over 10 years in the Software Industry. He is currently a Senior Consultant at EMNM. EMNM offer a range of new media design services including multimedia presentation and website design.
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