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Create a Website

Why You Should Stick to Design Conventions When You Create a Website

A mistake often made by people who are new to web design is thinking that they shouldn't pay any attention to what has come before: they're going to create a website the way they think one should work. You have to realize, though, that there's a difference between being innovative and being arrogant when you create a website. In almost all cases, when you create a website you should be sticking to the conventions that have gradually developed during the life of the web so far.

When you create a website – Remember there are ALREADY millions of websites.

If there were only a few hundred websites in the world, it'd be fine for people to create a website a slightly different way. Unfortunately for you, though, there are literally millions of other websites. The rules to create a website are fairly established – and if your website doesn't work similarly to the others, then visitors going to find your website hard to use.

Consider “The Learning Curve” when you create a website.

When you create a website, ask yourself: do you really want visitors to need to figure out how to use it before they can get started? When you create a website do you want to write big help files and FAQs just to explain the site to them? Of course not. Part of the power of the web and the power you have when you create a website (as opposed to desktop programs, for example) is that it gives a consistent interface to all sorts of things. If you break this rule when you create a website, then you're making your site require some learning in order to be usable.   Not something you want to do when you create a website!

The web is competitive enough and in most cases, your visitors will simply desert you for your easier to use competitor – Remember when you create a website to avoid building a learning curve for your visitors.

What are the Conventions when you create a website?

When you create a website the design conventions are simple, but effective, to the point that you probably don't realize they're there most of the time.

Here are some examples of standard conventions when you create a website

Your logo should be a link to your homepage – A golden rule when you create a website.

The links on your navigation bar should all be internal links.

Clicking a small picture will display a bigger version – Another golden rule when you create a website..

Links should all go to HTML documents unless they're clearly marked as a movie, PDF, etc.

There are many, many more Conventions when you create a website.

What Happens When You Break These rules when you create a website?

In short, if you violate these conventions when you create a website people will get annoyed. But not only do people get annoyed - they also get confused. When you create a website if you put an external link on your navigation bar, for example, then people could think it's part of your website – that creates all sorts of issues, since you have no control over external content.

Exceptional Circumstances when you create a website

The only time you should break the web's conventions when you create a website is when your website is different enough to others that it will be worth people learning a better way to use it. For example, when Google launched Gmail, the world's first webmail service with a gigabyte of storage space, they introduced an interface that used Javascript to change entire pages without reloading. That broke the web's conventions, but worked well enough that the technique caught on, and is now starting to develop new conventions all of its own.

Don't get carried away when you create a website, though, and start thinking you're more important than you really are. Your great new product is very unlikely to justify you adding streaming video to your homepage when you create a website – it's more likely to just annoy people (far better when you create a website to add a large picture of the video and a 'click here to see our new product' headline).  When you create a website know your website's limits – for the most part when create a website, you should try to make it work as much like other websites as you possibly can.   

When you create a website the ultimate test is this: if you sit an experienced web user in front of your site, can they use it without getting confused? If they can't, then it's back to the drawing board.

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