Healthy Habits for Web Designers

Developing good web design habits can save you and your clients a lot of time and money. In this article, we offer some simple tips and strategies that help form good web design habits for the life.

Avoid using tables and rely on CSS for layout. Using tables can limit your layout options and may not always display the same in the various browsers causing cross-browser compatibility issues. Tables can be hard to manage while CSS allows you to manage the entire look of your site with just a few lines of code. Less code means faster load times as there is less code for the browser software to interpret.
Document your work. When managing multiple sites, it is easy to lose track of where you left off and what you were thinking at the time. Commenting your code helps you remember, but also in the event you hire extra help, your assistant will understand your work easier saving time. Keeping organized is one of the best habits you can form.
Make Backups Don’t lose you hard work or what other people have paid for. Make a backup of the websites, databases, files, and everything else when developing a website. Backup every change. It may sound like tedious work but mistakes happen and are often costly.
Keep It Simple Creating a complex layout can make a site confusing and hard for the end-user to find what they are looking for. Too many interactive features and graphics can make the site load slowly creating accessibility issues. Balance is key. Too much of any one thing is not a good thing so keep it simple by providing just enough text, graphics and an easy to follow navigation system. Remember the goal is to make a website beautiful (and beauty is in the eye of the beholder e.g., the client) and easy to use.
Validate your code Keep your code clean. This is another good habit to form. Use the free W3C validation service to find the areas that need correction and do this for both HTML and CSS. Adding the validation buttons to your site show that the website’s code is well formed and a mark of quality.
Naturally Search Engine Friendly (SEF) SEO is a part of web design too. When you add an image to a page it should have an alt tag to go along with it. This is a part of developing and optimizing a website while it is under construction. An experienced web designer will add the Title, Meta Tags, image attributes, and structure the links and content to be search engine friendly as part of the design.
Compatibility Websites should be accessible across as many platforms, browsers, and screen resolutions as possible. If you design your site with CSS that works with all browsers, avoid browsers scripts and Flash, and keep within an 1024×768 screen setting, you will be in good shape (some will argue that 800×600 is still the standard but we are designing for the future here). Also, another idea is to make your website mobile having a desktop and mobile version. For interactive features, try using server side scripts and programming that will keep your site compatible for everyone.