Best practice in web design – Part 2

Technical website design considerations

There are several technical issues to consider when designing your website.

Browser issues

You will have to design webpages that can be displayed by many different browsers. Common browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Google Chrome.

You should test your webpages in as many browsers and different operating systems as possible during the development process to ensure that they will display properly. You should also ensure that your webpages work in previous versions of the browsers, as some of your audience may not have updated their software.

If you are enhancing an existing site you can use web analytics to see what browsers your customers are currently using to access your website. See the page on website monitoring in our guide on maintaining your web content and technology.

Screen resolutions

The most common resolutions, expressed in pixels, is 1024 x 768, although there is a growing trend towards higher resolutions. If you opt to design your website for a higher resolution, then you need to be aware that some screens with lower resolutions may not display all of the content.

Many users are now also accessing the internet from mobile devices such as smart phones and net books. It is also worth considering how your site will appear when it is accessed from such devices.

Download speeds

Not all internet users have high speed access, so connection speed should also influence your webpage design.

Too many images or rich media will slow down the speed at which the webpage loads. Generally, pages should load within eight seconds or less. If your pages download slowly, your users will probably move on to another site. Slow download speeds may also impact negatively on your search engine ranking. For more information see our guide on search engine optimisation.

Try and keep file and image sizes to a minimum – generally the total size of a webpage should be no more than 40 to 60 kilobytes.

Technology

Some web technology can prevent users from viewing your site or affect indexing of your website by search engines. These technologies include:

HTML frames
Javascript
Flash
AJAX

If using any of these technologies you need to consider what the potential risks may be to the usability and accessibility of your website.

Source: BusinessLink.gov.uk – subject to Crown Copyright.

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