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6) The site must be easy to navigate so that a visitor can find what they are looking for with one or two clicks.
7) Lastly and probably most importantly, content of site must be good. Not only must it be good, but also it must offer a benefit to visitor. The content must be interesting enough to either make potential customer buy on spot, with use of compelling headlines or banner ads, or it must give them a reason to return.
If you are maintaining your own website, keep it simple. It is then that much easier not to fall into design traps mentioned above. Here are some tips that could improve your site design while maintaining a professional look.
1) Use background color in tables instead of graphics to add color to your site.
2) Make use of percentages instead of absolute values in tables for width and height values, but then again check that final result looks OK. This allows your web pages to stretch to fit browser screen.
3) Use CSS style sheets to keep your site uniform. There are excellent tutorials on how to use style sheets at House of Style http://www.westciv.com. Using style sheets is as easy as putting an image in your site. You simply link each of your pages to style sheet. Then if you want your whole site to use a different background color or a different font, you only change style sheet. Style sheets can greatly simplify HTML on your pages.
5) Don't use fancy fonts that you have downloaded from net because unless they are supported on your visitors' browsers, they will not be seen. Keep fonts simple.
Finally, put yourself in shoes of your target audience, and ask yourself if your site gives you a reason to browse further. Using strong headlines and compelling text is more important than special effects and large graphics.
The best websites from a marketing point of view are often simplest.
Richard Igoe owns http://www.TheWebsEye.com, an internet marketing resource center which is building up a library of website design articles.