Seven Tips to Improve The Design Of Your Website

Whether your website is a small personal site with just a few pages or a bigger conglomerate website, it is always crucial to have a good design. It is important for your visitors and will determine whether they come back or not. Below are a few tips to help you obtain a good design for your website:

1. Your pages must load swiftly. The majority of visitor’s will leave a site if it takes longer than ten seconds to load. Bear in mind that even if you have a fast internet connection, not everyone does and 56k modems are still on the market.

2. Text should be easy to decipher. The text size should be the right size, and the background colour of your site must not be too dark. A more conventional bet would be to use black letters on a white background. If you want to try something more daring, be careful that the text is still easy to read.

3. You should find your site easy to navigate. Each link should be in a place that is easy to spot, as well graphic navigation elements like buttons and tabs, which should be easy to read and use. It would be a shame to loose your visitors because your graphics are too flashy.

4. The layout and design of your website should be regular in order to avoid confusion. If the design changes too much from one page to the next, your visitors will think that they are on a different website.

5. Avoid adding music and sound samples. Most people prefer not to hear music when they land on a website, especially if they are already listening to something on the radio or internet. If you must, start with the sound off and make it switch on when the visitor chooses to.

6. Make sure your website design is compatible with most browsers. Bear in mind that people don’t only use Internet Explorer on Windows, but also Mozilla Firefox and Opera (if you can, you could even try testing on a Mac). If your site targets the technology market, make sure your site is up to date as your readers will be more likely to use new browsers and appliances such as PDAs.

7. Finally, make sure your site fits all screen resolutions. You might like to surf in 1240×1080 with your new screen, but always remember that some people still use 800×600, or even 640×768! A site that looks good in high resolution could be impossible to view properly in 800×600.

If you have any uncertainties, it won’t cost you anything to make some tests. You can also ask your colleagues, friends and family for their advice. A fresh eye can always see things which you might’ve left out.

J. M. Stevens is contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.

From The Server To The Web Browser: What Goes On?

Every time you click on a link in a web page or type a URL into your web browser you are in fact making a ‘request’ for a certain document. That request is carried out with the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and sent over the Internet all the way to the server which is keeping the document in question. If everything goes well the server responds by sending the document, which is usually a web page of text and graphics.

The HTTP is part of the Internet Protocol(IP) suite. It is used by the ‘client’ which here is the web browser in order to create a connection with the server which hosts a website in particular. The server waits for incoming requests by monitoring TCP port 80.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is used to produce connections between two computers on the Internet so that they can exchange data. TCP has provisions for identifying the requesting computer and also for transmitting information with time stamps so that it can be gathered again in the correct order once it arrives to its destination.

There are many standardized uses for TCP ports. For example, TCP port 21 is usually reserved for FTP (File Transfer Protocol) in order to upload and download files. Port 80 is usually employed for HTTP.

If your server gets a request string on TCP port 80 in the shape of GET / HTTP/1.1 it will send a response code which will depend on whether the requested web page is available or not. A classic request goes like this:

GET /faq.html HTTP/1.1

This will be a request for The ‘Host’ needs to be specified in order to distinguish websites which are hosted on shared servers. If faq.html is available the server will then reply:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Mon, 12 October 2005 22:38:34 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.27 (Unix)(Red-Hat/Linux)
Last-Modified: Wed, 08 Jan 2003 23:11:55 GMT

…followed by the actual web page.

HTTP/1.1 200 OK signifies that the web page you requested is available. Other codes can also be returned. For example, the code 404, signifies that the server cannot find the page you requested. The web page is sent through TCP as a set of data packets with a header each that will specify its destination and order in the data stream. The various packets can all take on various routes in order to reach their target. Each packet is sent through a router which polls other routers which are near by. However, if a connection with the first router is unavailable, the data will be sent through another one.

As the data is received, the client (web browser) will send back an acknowledgement. This will ensure that all the packets are received within the right amount of time. If they aren’t, they will be re-transmitted by the server. TCP will also check that the data is not damaged. The data will be rearranged in the right order thanks to the sequence number of each data packet. And there you go! Then the web page appears on your computer screen.

Also, the TCP connection can be kept alive for further requests from the client. This will enable several pages to be requested within a short span of time without causing the overhead to open and close TCP ports. The client or the server can end the connection any time by just closing it.

J. M. Stevens is contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.