May 18, 2021

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Conventions of web design | The New Times

6 min read

There are several key factors that should be considered when designing a website for an organisation, ministry or business. The need to apply various best practices for web design lead to the development of websites that are optimised for browser cross-compatibility, functionality and responsiveness. Great websites incorporate features and content that provides for great user interface (UI)and User experience (UX). Some of these key factors and conventions are; web platforms or browsers, mobile platforms, standards compliance, design conventions and optimisation strategies.

Web Platforms

 

There are several Web browsers that have been developed to provide the necessary tools for developers to utilise that are cross-compatible. This was not the case for many browsers when they were first launched on the World Wide Web. Some common web browsers are Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Safari. The choice of browser used is purely dependent on preference of an individual or organisation.

 

Browsers have different strengths and weaknesses and this calls for developers to consider the best platform available when working on website projects for their clientele. This means that for a website to be considered successfully built, it should be tested and assessed for cross-compatibility across all popular browsers. The different software features and tools available on one browser may not necessarily be available on a another. For example, Chrome has developed features that support fast and easy compatibility with other browsers, and also give its users a choice to decide what they receive in ads and plugins.

 

However, this is not the case for Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer which are still wanting in their offer for website developers. Due to this factor, Chrome has become the most popular browser and as such, developing websites from this platform might provide developers wider success base as compared to using internet explorer. It is important to note that, while Chrome is great with its development features, Microsoft has provided the leading software workspaces, offices, and team collaboration. Therefore, this shows that there are both strengths and weaknesses for each browser.

Mobile Platforms

Web content has become more lucrative with the introduction of mobile phones. Web developers today cannot afford to ignore the benefits that come with responsive design to fit mobile platforms. The Pew—a research firm confirms that mobile users have significantly increased to 96% in 2019 up from 31% in 2011 in America alone. This shows that the stakes are high for web developers who do not incorporate mobile friendly designs when building websites for mobile.

Mobile platforms are operating systems that are built to function on the software and hardware of portable devices like mobile phones, laptops, tablets PDAs and other handheld devices. The most popular mobile platforms are, Android by Google, iOS by Apple, Blackberry OS by Blackberry, Windows Phone by Microsoft among other mobile platforms. (e-Zest (Links to an external site.).

People of all age groups are absorbing information on the go on their mobile devices. With today’s technological advances, information is instant. A responsive design with fast load times would go a long way in increasing traffic to sites that are mobile friendly and that are easy to navigate on portable devices.

Therefore, developing a website with a responsive design is necessary to engage with a wider audience. A responsive design is one that has fast load times, utilizes design space, provides for infinite scrolling and dot navigation to increase load times. The amount of time that site visitors will spend waiting for a page to load on a website is estimated  to be 2 to 3 seconds.

Standards compliance

Definition: Standards compliance is the compliance of a website with the standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These standards ensure that consistency is maintained through design coding practices so as to avail cross-compatibility for content makers to build websites with valid HTML or XHTML, JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Before standards were introduced, browser developers had no standardized way of assessing quality and cross-compatibility. This was a challenge for developers and content creators who had no option but to build multiple versions of the same website in order to fit within the browser settings.

This challenge was resolved with the establishment of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)—an international community comprised of various member organizations, employees and the public. Their mandate is to ensure the long-term growth of the web through the development of open Web standards that define web technologies. The way it works is that Wen technologies are defined by W3C documents that must follow a process that, “promotes consensus, fairness, public accountability, and quality.” The Recommendations that result from this process are then endorsed and published by W3C as acceptable Web Standards.

Therefore, in order to know if a website or web page is complying with web standards, it should have valid HTML, XHTML, CSS and JavaScript. These features provide several layers of proper settings that meet cross-compatibility and hence make web development more enjoyable.

Web design conventions

Websites with an optimized design are part and parcel of any well-developed content platform. Any organization and business website with an optimized design will lead to higher response and interactive communication with site visitors. It does not matter how great a website looks if it has terrible navigation. Site visitors are always looking for a reason to stay and is why when writing for the web, concise sentences should complement great design. The notion of ‘less is more’ becomes rewarding for websites that are easily navigable. The Apple website has a great e-commerce platform that is easy to navigate, functional, has great design and provides a great UX with minimal text.

Optimised websites with a responsive design suggest that best practices and conventions of design were considered in their development. Responsiveness of a website can easily be determined by the way the content is aligned whether its accessed on a desktop, tablet or mobile platform. And also, fast load times of the webpages are essential to site visitor’s satisfaction. Based on research, most people spend an average of 2-3 seconds waiting for pages to load before they move on to the next site. Businesses online have become more competitive with excessive offers of products and services. Therefore, maximizing on providing site visitor with the information they need could eventually convert them into customers whom you would retain with great digital marketing both online and offline.

Optimisation strategies

Great web developers understand that great websites are designed to pass the browser cross- compatibility test. Without utilizing some of the latest platforms for coding like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3 to develop a website, it can become challenging to render a site on various browsers. Through understanding design optimization best practices and utilizing available testing and validation sites for browser cross compatibility, developers can create a satisfactory product for their clients who use different browsers. This also includes ensuring mobile compatibility given that most people access the web via mobile phones. The more browsers a website can function on, the better the website and the wider its reach.

Consideration and investment need to be placed on SEO research in order to increase the discoverability of a website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is when a websites visibility is significantly improved such that users of any web search engine can find your content. Investment in SEOs makes sites business worthy as brand identity increases. Utilizing SEOs may require using different keywords, HTML code as well as terms and phrases that will build traffic to a website.

Therefore, it is important to note that digital marketing today means that brands are using websites that are functional, responsive and that utilize SEOs to reach a wider clientele online. While web developers will charge an extra fee to include SEO optimisation for a website, it is worth the investment. A combination of all the necessary optimisation strategies goes a long way to establish the best platform to communicate an organization’s vision, mission and values to their audience. It is pointless to have a fantastic and well-build website that is not discoverable by your audience. The more traffic is built toward a site, the more likely visitors will be converted into clients and followers.

 Twitter: @GloriaIribagiza

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