Martin Dixon
Making websites work for you    
My Kind of Website
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What makes a good website?

Clean clear simple design. Both for layout and navigation. The problem with a lot of websites is that they try to say so much on their front page, that users are put off or can't easily find what they want. Users generally want a very specific piece of information and would be so happy if they could get that instantly - not a common event - so help them as much as you can.

What makes a bad website?

Almost anything! Any small defect can annoy the user and have them off surfing elsewhere in a moment. Slow loading, pop-ups, broken links, functions that don't always work to name but a few.

An advert

It is not. Many sites seem to be simply normal adverts for the company / product. Why? Advertising is what is needed to get people to the site, but once there stop the advertising! Give the user what they have gone there for. I believe this contradiction arises because the marketing and graphic design people have transferred their fine graphic and advertising skills to the new media without really thinking about what is so fundamentally different about a media where the user is in charge, actively finding what they want.


Clever rollover images and whizzy menus probably looked great when the design team showed them to the boss, but now they are irritating, can accidentally hide useful stuff, are sometimes broken and cannot be used by visually impaired users. Again there is a load of stuff there which I think the designer is more pleased with than the poor users.

Search Engines

A well built site will fair better with the search engines. Good text content is the key. The hidden keywords and description are still important. On top of that you need get quality links to your site and to promote your site with the popular search engines.


The best site in the world still needs to be marketed. There are a wide range of ways to do this, some very conventional methods work, but some are not as effective as you might expect. More than a little thought needs to go into a cost effective campaign.


You can't beat a fast loading web page - instant relief for the users when they come across such a rare beast! Remember your customers may be dialing in.


Most users will not be keen to feed information back to you. Primarily they want information - give it to them! And make it easy to get to. Of course you want to lead them to your door, but don't assume they are desperate to get to you, you need to give them value first. Once they realize how good your products or services are, tell them your contact details so they can e-mail or call you immediately!

Text is great!

Users want information and they want it now! Text is usually not only the most effective, but also the easiest way to tell the user your message - users frequently flee from sites that have too much slow, flashy graphics, particularly if it is all on the home page. Text can be seen as boring, so some effort of imagination is required to lay out pages in a way that is appealing and easy to read.


I am not against graphics at all! But they must be applied judiciously. It is amazing what can be done with a few kilobytes and a bit of thought and effort. So many websites look like the designer is trying to show their brilliance, disregarding the user's needs.


Not everyone is running the latest internet explorer with broadband access speeds. Some of your users might have poor or no vision. I believe this is important and I aim to use good general design, adhere to standards (e.g. W3C and Bobby), use text and images sensibly, use alternate tags and relative sized text (if possible, so you can choose to view bigger text) for greater accessibility. There are now laws and standards which encourage good accessibility.


Do look into the legal aspects of your website. Image and text copyright, accessibility, registered design, company names and potentially patents are some things to consider. I would start with a look at (see links pages).


Martin Dixon         5-b Julien Road, Ealing W5 4XA     +44 (0)20 8354 0510    +44 (0)79 0099 1905     2nd September 2002