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When the Internet first became popular, there were few guidelines as to what worked and what didn't simply because it was a completely new medium. Now though, the Internet is something that many deal with on a daily basis and there are certain things that almost everyone agrees make 'surfing the Net' a much more pleasurable activity. Have a look at the suggestions below and, if you have a website of your own, see how it measures up!

Pictures that load quickly
One thing that frustrates people who spend a lot of time on the Internet is having to wait for information and pictures to appear. To avoid this, or at least minimize this, when setting up a website, make sure that any pictures that you incorporate have been adjusted in a graphics program like Adobe PhotoShop or ImageReady so that they are high quality but low size.

Easy to understand layout
Cramming too much onto one page can make it difficult for people to follow. Some sites put so much onto a page that it's hard to know what's important or what relates to what.

Easy to use navigation
One of the challenges for people new to the Net is finding their way around a website. This can be facilitated by navigation, which guides them through the content in a meaningful fashion and also allows them to return easily to major areas within the site. Navigation is traditionally either at the top or side of a page.

Effective use of color
Websites are fantastic because they allow the designer to incorporate color at no extra cost - unlike books, flyers and other print publications. What you should be wary of though is the tendency to use colors that making reading your site difficult. This might be because the colors you have chosen are difficult for colorblind people to read or simply that you have a textured background with text over the top that gets lost. Color also displays differently on different computers, in different lighting conditions and even in different browsers so, what looks like a light brown to you, might be dark brown for someone else. Always check your pages whenever you can.

Frequently updated
One of the most common complaints with websites is that there are too many which are created and then left as is, ad infitum. The best sites are those that are updated frequently because they have the most current information and encourage people to return to see what will be there next time. For this reason, it also a good idea to have a line at the bottom (or somewhere on the page) saying when the last update was done.

Feedback facility
The Internet is always touted as being an interactive facility but how many sites actually take advantage of this facility? But this doesn't mean that you have to have a Chat Room or Multimedia on your site to interactive. Including the opportunity for feedback on your website means that, either through a guest book, e-mail or forms etc, people can let you know if they are having a problem with your page, if there is an error, if they loved it and have recommended it to all their friends or if they have a similar site and want to set up a reciprocal link.

Accurate content
While the layout, color and navigation of your site is important, you should never forget the importance of good content. By good, that means, accurate, current information which is grammatically correct and has no spelling mistakes. It is always a good idea to have someone proofread your work before it is published on the Internet. Spellcheckers can pick up some things but they won't pick up words like "their" and "there" and "they're".

Many sites are now using the powerful facilities of the Internet to set up pages which move, change and so on. These usually require a 'plug-in' such as Shockwave or RealPlayer. While these pages can look extremely impressive, many Internet users do not have the plug-ins and are unable to (or unwilling to) install them themselves. If you have pages which use these features ensure that you provide an alternative set of pages for them to use.

Frames have their good and bad points and you often find that people either love them or hate them. Used appropriately they allow for ease of navigation and simplicity of design. Used inappropriately they can take up too much room, not allowing enough for the display of the content, or the 'frames within frames' problem can occur where you link to a site which also has frames and that is displayed within your frames. Frames can also interfere with the ability to print the content so, if you want people to be able to print your pages, ensure that the content prints rather than the frame.

If you factor in each of these items when you design your website, it should be easy to use and the sort of page that people want to revisit. GOOD LUCK!