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Your web site should always adhere to standards!
A professional web site designer will provide you with a standard compliant web site that is cross-browser supported.
What does this mean to you? Why should you care? Any site that isn't standard compliant can "break" in older browsers, or simply not display at all in, say, text-based browsers. If you are a small business, this could be the difference between a conversion and a lost sale. That potential customer just went to your competition. Also, a standard compliant web site will have "clean" HTML, XHTML, or XML code. This allows search engines to index your site easily and improves your Search Engine Rank Position (SERP). What good is your web site if no one can find it? Read more about the World Wide Web Conortium's (W3C) Web Standards and Guidelines.
But you aren't a small business?
That's ok. Non-profit organization can lose potential members and/or donation due to a lack of credibility. Individual web sites are no different. If you don't care if people can visit your site, or not, why even bother publishing your web site on the World Wide Web? Think it's too expensive? Not at all. An ethical, professional web site designer should be able to provide simple web sites for as little as $50.
A is for... Accessibility!
A professional web designer gives you all of this plus they ensure that your site is accessible to people with disabilities. Too often, web sites are not created with people with disabilities in mind. For example: The wrong font colors are used causing people who are color blind to be unable to read the text; and proper code and navigation are not utilized for individuals who are blind or vision impaired. Another benefit with Return on Investment (ROI): better indexing for those Search Engines. Read more about the World Wide Web Conortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
You should make sure that the professional web site designer you hire provides all of the above and should adhere to the most common, professional ideas about web design, like the following:
5 elements of professional web site design:
1. Clean web site design/structure.
Only a few years ago, the web was a mass of blinking, twirling, animated images and scrolling text. Today, things have changed. Design principles focus more on simplistic, clean development and ease of navigation. How wonderful for all of us wandering around the World Wide Web! The problem now with most sites is the lack of flexibility. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and other design tools make changing and updating a web site's pages with little effort. And that translates into less time the web site designer is spending on maintaining your web site - and that equals less dollars out of your pocket, especially if your designer is getting paid by the hour!
2. Good usability.
Usability goes hand in hand with standards, accessibility, and cross-browser compliance. When you achieve all of this, usability is a natural by-product. Usability can be best defined as: how easy the average person (without disabilities, etc.) can get around your web site, or how "usable" is it. If someone has to hunt for a link back to your home page, or hunt for how to contact you, then you have a usability problem with your web site design.
3. Fast loading, small web page files.
4. Proper use of technology.
Only one thing needs to be mentioned here - a professional knows the best way to use technology and when to use it. Using a 250k flash intro page - just so your site looks cool - is not making the best use of the technologies available. In short just because you can, doesn't always mean you should. A professional web site designer will advise you of the technologies available and make recommendation based upon your individual needs in how to best include any advanced features into your web site.
5. Ability to convey information.
Clear, concise information (text) on your page should immediately convey to the visitor what you site is about. A professional web site designer will work with you or your copywriter to ensure that you are conveying what is needed and appropriate.
In closing, if you want a professional looking site that is available and usable to the widest group of people, you should hire a professional web site designer. Have more question? Please feel free to contact us.
Tami Jones is the owner of Illumination Web Services: an affordable website design company based in Knoxville Tennessee. Dedication to helping "illuminate" the internet and make it a reality to other small businesses is their #1 goal.
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