StormBiz Blog

Everything you need to know about website design, website hosting, graphic design, our website design courses and more...

Fastest Way to Ruin a New Web Site?

planning websitePlanning WebsiteI’ve been asked, “How do I design a successful Website?”

I often respond, “Do you know the fastest way to ruin a new Web site design?” As you might suspect, the answer is, “Lack of proper planning beforehand.”

Let's put it another way. In programming, there's an old axiom, which states: "The sooner you start your coding the longer it takes to finish."

Planning out your Website before you build it is essential. To borrow a technique from the film industry, I recommend that you create a storyboard, which is a type of a flow chart of your new Web site design. You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to draw out your idea, but it’s essential to create it on paper first.

On each piece of paper, the goal is to have room for an image at the top, plus space underneath for writing down information. As you might suspect, the first page to start with is your home (or welcome) page, which will typically have the most information as it will contain the page the people visit before they enter your site and as people go through your site, the will encounter more information (in tiers) as they go down.web design planningWeb Design PlanningTypically, the home page links to 5-15 pages below that, which we could refer to as Tier 2. Each of those pages links to another 5-15 pages, which you could call Tier 3

If you use all of these pages, you’ll wind up with an extensive Web site design, of at least 226 pages (including the home page).

It's during this process that all sorts of problems will crop up. But it's much easier to solve them on paper than in the middle of coding rather than when you are finished.. If you don’t, you might run into a major problem along the way that would require a “back to the drawing board” complete site re-design.

Working things out on paper will give you a much better idea of how things will work and how to fix problems. And, if you have knowledgeable friends, get a second opinion.

Once you've completed the on-paper process, and you or your web designer is satisfied with the results, you’re ready to translate it into code. Unless you or your programmer is a pro, I would recommend using a “template”. These are ready-made Web site design formats. You can choose from several templates by typing “template source” in most search engines. Many of them are free.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: For a Website, do I have to employ a pro, or can I call the guidance counselor at my local high school and ask for the names of some computer whiz kids that I could call to help me out (for a fee)?

A: It really depends on what you want to do. If all you want is 1-2 pages , you can learn how to build the Web site yourself. If it’s an intensive site with many pages, I’d recommend student or a pro (if you have the budget).

website planningWebsite PlanningQ: I see a lot of photo-oriented web sites that have a black background. Is this the best color to use?

A: Not necessarily. It’s a matter of opinion and personal taste. White can work just as well. I don’t recommend the use of other colors as they can compete with your images.

Q: Is “Flash” or audio acceptable?

A: If you absolutely need Flash to demonstrate an animation, then by all means use it. If it’s for a fancy trick, I recommend leaving it out. It’s similar with sound. Unless it adds to your site, don’t use it. And if you do use sound, give users an option to turn it off. If you don’t, you’re likely to lose visitors.

If you would like a free quotation, or more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Continue reading
0
  1216 Hits
1216 Hits

Writing Effective ALT Text For Images

Alt TextAlt-TextAnyone who knows anything about web accessibility knows that images need alternative, or ALT, text assigned to them. This is because screen readers can't understand images, but rather read aloud the alternative text assigned to them. In Internet Explorer we can see this ALT text, simply by mousing over the image and looking at the yellow tooltip that appears. Other browsers (correctly) don't do this.

But surely there can't be a skill to writing ALT text for images? You just pop a description in there and you're good to go, right? Well, kind of. Sure, it's not rocket science, but there are a few guidelines you need to follow...

Spacer images and missing ALT text

Spacer images should always be assigned null ALT text, or alt="" . This way most screen readers will completely ignore the image and won't even announce its presence. Spacer images are invisible images that pretty most websites use. The purpose of them is, as the name suggests, to create space on the page. Sometimes it's not possible to create the visual display you need, so you can stick an image in (specifying its height and width) and volià, you have the extra space you need.

Not everyone uses this null ALT text for spacer images. Some websites stick in alt="spacer image". Imagine how annoying this can be for a screen reader user, especially when you have ten of them in a row. A screen reader would say, “Image, spacer image” ten times in a row (screen readers usually say the word, “Image”, before reading out its ALT text) - now that isn't helpful!

Other web developers simply leave out the ALT attribute for spacer images (and perhaps other images). In this case, most screen readers will read out the filename, which could be ‘newsite/images/onepixelspacer.gif’. A screen reader would announce this image as “Image, new-site slash images slash one pixel spacer dot gif”. Imagine what this would sound like if there were ten of these in a row!

Bullets and icons

Bullets and icons should be treated in much the same way as spacer images, so should be assigned null alternative text, or alt="". Think about a list of items with a fancy bullet proceeding each item. If the ALT text, ‘Bullet’ is assigned to each image then, “Image, bullet” will be read aloud by screen readers before each list item, making it take that bit longer to work through the list.

Icons, usually used to complement links, should also be assigned alt="". Many websites, which place the icon next to the link text, use the link text as the ALT text of the icon. Screen readers would first announce this ALT text, and then the link text, so would then say the link twice, which obviously isn't necessary.

(Ideally, bullets and icons should be called up as background images through the CSS document - this would remove them from the HTML document completely and therefore remove the need for any ALT description.)

no alt textNo Alt TextDecorative images

Decorative images too should be assigned null alternative text, or alt="". If an image is pure eye candy then there's no need for a screen reader user to even know it's there and being informed of its presence simply adds to the noise pollution.

Conversely, you could argue that the images on your site create a brand identity, and by hiding them from screen reader users, you're denying this group of users the same experience. Accessibility experts tend to favour the former argument, but there certainly is a valid case for the latter too.

Navigation & text embedded within images

Navigation menus that require fancy text have no choice but to embed the text within an image. In this situation, the ALT text shouldn't be used to expand on the image. Under no circumstances should the ALT text say, ‘Read all about our fantastic services, designed to help you in everything you do’. If the menu item says, ‘Services’ then the ALT text should also say ‘Services’. ALT text should always describe the content of the image and should repeat the text word-for-word. If you want to expand on the navigation, such as in this example, you can use the title attribute.

The same applies for any other text embedded within an image. The ALT text should simply repeat, word-for-word, the text contained within that image.

(Unless the font being used is especially unique it's often unnecessary to embed text within images - advanced navigation and background effects can now be achieved with CSS.)

Company logo

Websites tend to vary in how they apply ALT text to logos. Some say, ‘Company name’, others ‘Company name logo’, and other describe the function of the image (usually a link back to the homepage), ‘Back to home’. Remember, ALT text should always describe the content of the image so the first example, alt="Company name", is probably the best. If the logo is a link back to the homepage then this can be effectively communicated through the title tag.

blind person with screen readerBlind Person With Screen ReaderConclusion

Writing effective ALT text isn't too difficult. If it's a decorative image then null alternative text, or alt="" should usually be used - never, ever omit the ALT attribute. If the image contains text then the ALT text should simply repeat this text, word-for-word. Remember, ALT text should describe the content of the image and nothing more.

Do also be sure also to keep ALT text as short and succinct as possible. Listening to a web page with a screen reader takes a lot longer than traditional methods, so don't make the surfing experience painful for screen reader users with bloated and unnecessary ALT text.

For more information, or a free quotation, please contact us

Continue reading
0
  1038 Hits
1038 Hits

Calendar

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar

Latest Blogs

Reward Credit

Login/Register for credits