I’m working as a consultant for an institutional website here in Taiwan. I wrote up a list of general principles for good website design to let them know what my priorities are. Here is my list. Let me know if you have any comments or thoughts!
- Valid XHTML
- All sites should endeavor to comply, as much as possible, with industry standards for valid code. This will insure greater accessibility to your site and improve cross-browser compatibility.
- All sites should be accessible to people with disabilities and who use special software.
- All sites should work on all modern browsers. You should test your sites on Firefox, IE, Google Chrome, and Safari and on Different versions of Windows (XP, Vista), different language systems (Chinese and English) and different operating systems (Linux and Mac OS X)
- Simplicity and Navigability
- Websites should take you directly to the content (no splash screens with animation), and make it obvious how and where to find the most important information. Too many choices on the front page can overwhelm the user and make it difficult to find what you are looking for. (That’s why Google is more popular than Yahoo!)
- No Annoyances
- Web designers love adding things to show off their skills. But most web users hate these annoyances. Websites should avoid having flash animation, frames, music, or pop-up windows, unless there is a damn good reason for them.
[This one is Taiwan-specific.] I
believe it is a big mistake to have separate web pages for Chinese and
English. First of all, it leads to the problem of having a splash page
where people have to choose. Secondly, often the English webpage is not
updated regularly because it is difficult to know which page to update
when the Chinese has been updated. Also, there is a mistaken assumption
that “foreigners” all want English and “locals” all want Chinese,
resulting in missing English information for locals and missing Chinese information for “foreigners.” Having one page solves this problem. With
proper design techniques it is possible to incorporate Chinese and
English together on the same page without it looking too crowded.