Design Your Website For Different Screen Resolutions and Browsers
The World Wide Web is a vast place with limitless possibilities, which is a great thing for Internet marketers. Your customers can find you from all over the globe and you can find folks who are interested in your specialty products even if you live in a remote rural area with a small population. On the other hand, the cosmic nature of the web also poses some problems when it comes to designing your e-commerce site. The millions of people out there surfing around use a wide range of different browsers, screen sizes, and internet connections, and if you want the largest possible customer base, you really need to build your site so that it will meet the needs of folks regardless of the methods they use to find your business.
While it's true that the majority of people use Internet Explorer as their default browser, you should be aware that there are probably at least five different versions of IE in use. Besides that, there are significant populations that use another browser such as Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Netscape Navigator, Opera, Google Chrome, or Flock, and all of those have more than one version available, too. When you add in the fact that some users will visit your site on a slow connection (yes there really are still people out there who use dial-up), others will browse from their cell phones or PDAs, and they will all employ a variety of screen resolutions, the task of designing for all of them seems daunting, to say the least. While you cannot realistically plan to meet every conceivable need on every conceivable system, here are a few pointers to help you reach as many folks as possible with your website.
Â· Follow web standards when designing. Internet gurus around the world have realized that cross-browser compatibility is a problem and have developed a set of standards known as w3c. (That's short for World Wide Web Consortium.) Web site building programs such as Dreamweaver and FrontPage follow these standards as long as you don't choose an option to do something that is specific to just that program. If you stay within the mainstream, you should have fewer compatibility problems.
Â· Test your site when you are done. W3c offers a suite of validators that you can use to make sure that you don't have any problems with compatibility. It is a free service that helps you locate trouble spots quickly. If you pass the scan with no trouble, you can download a button to put on your site that lets everyone know that you are compliant with web standards.
Â· Don't design your site so that it resizes a viewer's browser window. For some reason, there are websites out there that insist on hijacking a visitor's browser and making it conform to their idea of a proper size. That is annoying to say the least and serves no useful purpose.
Â· Be sure you don't take away the user's ability to use the navigation tools that are found within the browser. If the address bar disappears when folks enter your site, or the back button no longer works, you will end up with frustrated users that click away as soon as possible. (Read more about Website Navigation here.)
Â· If at all possible, use a liquid design that will let your page resize itself to fit any screen resolution. One way to do this is to use percentage widths on tables and layers. If a liquid design isn't feasible, try to make it fit an 800x600 resolution, which is still the most widely used. In order to avoid making your reader scroll horizontally to see your content stay within a design width of about 740-770 pixels.
If all of this sounds like Greek to you, it may be worth the time and money to hire a web design expert to assemble your site. There are freelance designers out there that don't charge a ton of money for a one-time job, and will work with you so that you can have lots of input into the final appearance of your site. Your other option is to bite the bullet and do lots of studying on the technical aspects of website building. There are plenty of online materials available written by experts that can explain what you need to know. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to keep your long term goals of building a user-friendly site in mind.
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