StormBiz Blog

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

Why a CSS Website Layout Will Make You Money

web devlopmentWeb DevelopmentAlthough CSS layouts have been around for years, they haven't become so commonplace until recently. This was basically due to limited browser support (especially from Netscape 4) - nowadays though, CSS 2.0 (which introduced positioning) is compatible with over 99% of browsers out there (check out the browser stats over at http://www.thecounter.com/stats/2004/August/browser.php).

So, why should you convert your website from its current table-based layout to a CSS layout? It'll make you money. Simple really. And here's four reasons to explain why:

Reduced bandwidth costs

Web pages using CSS for layout tend to have much smaller file sizes than those using tabular layouts. It's not unusual to see reductions of 50% or more in file size when switching from tables to CSS. Smaller file sizes obviously mean reduced bandwidth costs, which for high traffic sites can mean enormous savings.

The main reason for this dramatic decrease in file size is that presentation information is placed in the external CSS document, called up once when the homepage loads up and then cached (stored) on to the user's computer. Table layouts on the other hand, place all presentation information inside each HTML, which is then called up and downloaded for every page on the site.

Additionally, CSS can be used to replace JavaScript image rollovers, again allowing a large reduction in overall page size. See the article, CSS navigation menu for more on this (http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/css/css-navigation-menu.shtml).

search engine optimization rankingSearch Engine OptimizationA higher search engine ranking

A CSS-based website will appear higher in the search engine rankings for three reasons:

  • The code is cleaner and therefore more accessible to search engines
  • Important content can be placed at the top of the HTML document
  • There is a greater density of content compared to coding

A higher search engine ranking means more site visitors, which, provided your website is usable, should lead to an increase in enquiries or sales.

Faster download speed

A faster download speed will make you money? Well, yes. Slow download speed is often cited as one of the biggest usability complaints for websites. A faster download speed therefore leads to increased usability, and a web usability redesign can increase the sales/conversion rate by 100% (source: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030107.html).

CSS and HTML codeCSS and HTML CodeCSS downloads faster than tables because:

  • Browsers read through tables twice before displaying their contents, once to work out their structure and once to determine their content
  • Tables appear on the screen all in one go - no part of the table will appear until the entire table is downloaded and rendered
  • Tables encourage the use of spacer images to aid with positioning
  • CSS generally requires less code than cumbersome tables
  • All code to do with the layout can be placed in an external CSS document, which will be called up just once and then cached (stored) on the user's computer; table layout, stored in each HTML document, must be loaded up each time a new page downloads
  • With CSS you can control the order items download on to the screen - make the content appear before slow-loading images and your site users will definitely appreciate it

Increase in reach

lead generationLead Generation The more people you can reach, the more visitors you'll get to your site and the more enquiries or sales you should get. A CSS-based website is compatible with PDAs, mobile phones, in-car browsers and WebTV. Don't underestimate the importance of this: In 2008 alone an estimated 58 million PDAs will be sold (source: http://www.etforecasts.com/pr/pr0603.htm) and one third of the world's population will own a wireless device (source: http://www.clickz.com/stats/markets/wireless/article.php/10094_950001).

You can make an additional CSS document specifically for handheld devices, which will be called up in place of the regular CSS document, thereby ensuring your website is accessible to this lucrative market. This isn't possible with a tabular layout.

Conclusion: Switch to CSS!

Switching your website from a table layout to a CSS layout can be a long, arduous process, especially for large websites. Given the money making possibilities though, it could very well prove to be well worth it.

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

Continue reading
0
  1543 Hits
1543 Hits

Web Design - Simple Mistakes and Golden Rules

Good Web DesignGood Web DesignGood web design is something that can be achieved relatively easily by sticking to a small set of guiding principles and avoiding some very common mistakes.

Truly excellent web design skills are born out of years of experience, dedication, and plenty of hard-learned mistakes. Fortunately, being truly excellent at web design is not a pre-requisite for building a fantastic website, and the lessons learned from those mistakes can be passed on without the hardship.

This article contains some of the principles which I have learned the hard way, and the easy way. Each principle is fairly obvious, but so many designers ignore them for one reason or another, and the consequence is a hard-to-use, poor looking site that is difficult to manage, and fails to make the top 1000 in Google. If your website adheres to the principles below, it will almost certainly be much healthier, and you, and your visitors will reap the benefits.

1. Keep Everything Obvious - Don't Make Me Think

The book entitled Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug, is one of the best selling books on the subject of web design and usability. Personally, I think thinking is a good thing, but at the same time, I don't want to be struggling to figure out how to submit a web form!

Visitors to a website expect certain conventions, breaking these is a great way of losing visitors. People expect to find the navigation at the top of a page, or on the left hand side. Logos are mostly found on the top left. Much research has been conducted into how people view and use web pages. The good news is that you do not need to know all of this; instead, look at how larger companies, such as eBay, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft structure their pages, and the language they use, then emulate them.

website colourswebsite colours2. Limit Colours

A website using too many colours at a time can be overwhelming to many users, and can make a website look cheap and tacky. Any users with colour blindness, or contrast perception difficulties, may even be unable to use the site.

Limiting a palette to 2 or 3 colours, will nearly always lead to a slicker looking design, and has the added bonus of simplifying your design choices, reducing design time.

Software like Color Wheel Pro, can greatly simplify the creation of a pallet, by showing which colours sit well together. If you really do not have the eye for design, then software like this provides the perfect way of escaping monotone, or badly combined colour schemes.

If your site uses blue and yellow together, or red and green, then it may present problems to anyone suffering with colour blindness. Vischeck.com provide free software that can simulate different types of colour blindness.

Web fontsWeb Fonts3. Be Careful With Fonts

The set of fonts available to all visitors of a website is relatively limited. Add to that the possibility of a user having a visual impairment, then the options become even smaller. It is advisable to stick to fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Courier, Times, Geneva and Georgia. They may not be very interesting but your content should be more interesting than your font, and if it can't be read, what is the point of having a site?

Black text on a white background, is far easier for the majority of people to read, than white text on a black background. If you have large amounts of text, then a white or pale background is far more user friendly. Always ensure that there is a good contrast between any text and its background. Blue text on a blue background is okay, as long as the difference in shade is significant.

Verdana is often cited as being the easiest to read on the screen. Georgia is probably the best option for a serif font.

web design developmentWeb Design and Development4. Plan for Change

If you fix the height of your page to 600 pixels, will you still be able to add additional menu items, without completely redesigning your page?

The ability to add or remove content from a website is fundamental to the ongoing success of it. Having to rewrite the entire web page, or website, each time you want to make a small change, is a sure fire way to kill your interest in your own site, and will negatively impact your overall design and usability.

Getting a good idea of how your website is likely to grow, will clarify how best to structure your layout. For example, a horizontal navigation is often more restrictive than a side navigation, unless you use drop down menus; if your navigation is likely to grow, and you hate drop down menus, then your design choice has been 99% made for you!

Understanding how to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), avoiding unconventional layouts, and complicated backgrounds, will all help enormously.

5. Be Consistent

Again, don't make your visitors think! About how to use your site, at least. If your navigation is at the top on your homepage, it should be at the top on all other pages too. If your links are coloured red, ensure the the same convention is used on all sections.

By using CSS correctly, you can make most of this happen automatically, leaving you free to concentrate on the content.

holiday picturesNon Relevant Holiday Pictures6. Keep it Relevant

A picture is better than a thousand words, but if the picture you took on holiday is not relevant to your Used Car Sales website, then you should really replace it with something which reflects the content or mood of the page; a photo of a car perhaps!

If you can take something off of your web page without it adversely affecting the message, appearance or legality of your website, you should do it without hesitation.

Avoid the need to add images, Flash animations or adverts, just because you have space. This wastes bandwidth, and obscures the intentions of your website. If you absolutely must fill the space, then exercise your imagination to find something as relevant as possible.

Keeping your content focused will ultimately help your search-engine rankings

cascading style sheetsCSS-Cascading Style Sheets7. Become a CSS Expert

Cascading Style Sheets should be any web designer's best friend. CSS makes it possible to separate the appearance, and layout of your page, from the content. This has huge benefits when it comes to updating and maintaining your site, making your site accessible, and making your site easy for search engines to read.

CSS at a first glance is very straightforward but it is definitely worth investing in one, or more books. Two great books are: CSS the Missing Manual by David McFarland and Bulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm.

8. Avoid Complexity

Using standard layouts for your web page will save you development time, and make your site easier to use. Pushing the boundaries nearly always leads to quirky behaviour, cross-browser problems, confused site visitors, and maintenance headaches. Unless you really do like a challenge, then avoid complexity wherever possible.

Many standard layouts are freely available online with much of the boring, repetitive work already done for you.

The principles above all border on common sense, and are well known to most people, yet so many sites continue to deviate away from them, and suffer as a consequence. Following these principles will help you keep away from trouble, although it still doesn't guarantee it!

Don’t delay, give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.' to request a free quotation

Continue reading
0
  1779 Hits
1779 Hits

Why CSS Is Good For Your Web Site

css style sheetsCSS Style SheetsCascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used within the HTML behind your Web site as a way of controlling how each page is laid out and what elements on it look like. For instance, you can use CSS to make headings in your copy a standard size across the whole of your site.

CSS has been around for several years and is supported by all the major browsers available today, including Internet Explorer for the PC and Mac, Firefox, Safari and Opera.

Using CSS to control your Web site will give you several benefits:

Makes your Web pages snappier

By using CSS and writing your HTML code to match standards like 'XHTML Transitional' or 'XHTML Strict' you can decrease the 'render time' of your pages. This is the time it takes between downloading the page and actually showing it on screen to your Web site visitor.

When using tables for layout - the traditional alternative to using CSS - and 'font' tags to control how the text on the page looks, the browsers have a lot more work to do before they show the page. Using CSS and the proper DocType for the pages means the browser knows what to expect from the code and can display it much more quickly.

In practice, converting to a standards based CSS layout on one client's Web site reduced the time it took the page to display by almost a quarter of a second. Although this is a very small amount of time, it is more than enough to make a Web site feel much more snappy and responsive, helping it give a good impression to your potential customers.

red nose dayRed Nose DayMakes your Web site quicker to update

As well as making your pages display quicker, CSS makes it easier to make global updates to your Web site. Say you're having a minor change in corporate image and want all your page headings changed from blue to green. With CSS controlling how your headings look, that means changing the colour in one file and the whole site shows the change - a two minute job rather than having to edit every page on the site.

This flexibility gives you the opportunity to do more with your Web site. Want to show your support for Red Nose Day? Again, one file change can put a little red nose next to all of your headers, turn the text red and even make them display in a silly typeface. Turning them back to normal for the next day is, once again, a single file change.

Good for Search Engine Optimisation

Because using CSS removes lots of HTML from your pages as layout and the look of text is controlled through the CSS file, it makes your textual content much more prominent within your HTML. This means the search engine spiders can easily find your textual content, and that your content is generally displayed in one block, rather than being split up into less readable chunks by HTML just to fit it in to your design.

Using 'semantically correct XHTML' - ie heading tags around the headings and sub-headings in your copy, and bold or strong tags around content you wish to highlight - tells the search engines those words are the most important on the page. This helps give the page a boost for searches which match the words which are marked as more important in this way.

disability awarenessDisability AwarenessHelps in passing the Disability Discrimination Act

Using good CSS and XHTML makes it easy for people with disabilities to change your pages the way they may need to for easy reading. This may be through increasing or decreasing the font size, or having it read to them through a screen reader. The clean page coding that goes along with using CSS means screen readers can easily navigate through your page and find the content, giving a good experience to visually impaired users.

Using CSS and XHTML also helps you comply with the UK Disability Discrimination Act rules for accessible Web sites. This is a valuable side-effect of using this kind of coding and takes no extra development time to be compliant.

Helps browsing from different devices

As well as helping screen readers, using CSS means alternative devices like mobile phones and PDAs can show your content effectively and easily. Although the current market in the West for browsing the Web through mobiles is small, it is growing and by using CSS you can create a Web site which is easily viewable on these devices with little extra effort,. So as more people use them it will be simple to convert your site to work with current or future devices..

cross browser testingCross Browser TestingDownsides

Currently, Web browsers treat CSS slightly differently, so when your Web site is created you may need slightly more cross-browser testing, and you will need to find a Web designer who understands how to build a site in CSS correctly. Most professional designers and developers are now seeing the benefits of creating standards based CSS sites, but it is worth ensuring that anyone you hire to make your Web site does know CSS before starting a project.

But the downsides are small when compared to the immediate and ongoing benefits of a CSS-based Web site

Please contact us today to request a free quotation

Continue reading
0
  1438 Hits
1438 Hits

Why Your Site Should Be Developed With CSS And Semantic Markup

webdevelopment1Web DevelopmentOne thing that I have learned in over a decade developing web sites is that the 'Net is continually changing, and to keep up you need to change with it. One of the more recent developments in web design is the use of CSS and semantic markup. CSS and semantic web design has several benefits: clarity in code, browser and other web-enabled devices compatibility, separation of content and presentation, smaller burden on bandwidth, and better visibility to search engines.

Back in the day, we designed sites with tables and hacked those tables into doing things that they were never meant to do. The table tag was designed to display tabular data, not as a way to render the layout of a website. Unfortunately, a better alternative did not exist, so we used tables. This made for inefficient, slow loading sites with code that was very hard to read and maintain. defines semantic markup like this:

Continue reading
0
  945 Hits
945 Hits

Calendar

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar

Latest Blogs

Reward Credit

Login/Register for credits