Fort Vancouver Trading

Website Design Goals

I prefer sites with the following characteristics:

Load Quickly

Sites minimize their network traffic, both in terms of size, and quantity of requests. Every file takes more time to download. Bundling files can save network trips, making a site load faster. But simply cutting out unnecessary traffic brings great improvements. If you embed a Google map to be hipster, there are about 20 extra network requests, and your page will be dramatically slower while it executes JavaScript code to display the map. An interactive map is not necessary. Simply give the address, or use a custom link that opens in someone's map application. Improved load times are more important than the perceived "convenience" of providing the map for every page-load. If you really need it, then just use a screenshot of the map. 1 photo. 1 request. Easy.

Similarly, these are commonly embedded and slow pages, providing no value whatsoever. Cut these out and save multiple seconds of loading:

  • Facebook or Twitter widgets
  • Yelp, TripAdvisor, or similar "badges"
  • Analytics or other surveillance software
  • Large photos, or too many photos
  • Custom fonts - you probably don't need them

If you cut out the extra stuff, you can end up having 1 request for your HTML page, 2 requests for the CSS and Javascript, and then only make additional requests for particular resources, like photos or videos. Once your site drops from over 30 to less than 10 network requests, it will be much faster.

Accessible Information

Site info needs to be readily found. Phone numbers should be clickable, so people can immediately call your business, without copying and pasting a number. Text needs to be readable. You need sufficient contrast, so people can find buttons, links, and other navigational items. PDFs are not a great format for mobile phones, since they don't respond to screen-size. They are locked in the aspect ratio of a piece of paper. Why are restaurants using PDFs to convey important information about their menu? In 2019, this is unacceptable and should be corrected immediately. A responsive, easy-to-read webpage is much better to learn about your business than pinching and swiping across a PDF meant to be printed on an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper.

Once you've covered the basics, it's important to use semantic HTML tags to represent page content. There are many tags, such as nav, article, footer, and header, which help with accessibility concerns. Your page should communicate its structure to someone using VoiceOver or another screen-reader, and this helps them navigate faster and accurately.

Minimal Size

In addition to limiting network requests, making files smaller is a great way to improve your site. Google's WebP format dramatically reduces the size of photos, and other resources can be "minified," which involves removing whitespace or other unneeded characters. After optimizing site assets or deleting useless files, your site will be much better.

Respect Privacy

Sites that monitor visitors' behavior have to communicate that information, which is done by making more network requests. It clogs up networks with pointless data, and it wastes energy. It's also creepy and not necessary.

Conserve Energy

If your site delivers minimal resources and loads quickly then it will conserve energy. If your site uses a lot of Javascript, many external files, and uses a lot of network traffic, then it will expend more energy. When thousands of people view your site, the small bits of data add up into wasted gigabytes of traffic, and significant delays while people wait for content to appear on their phones. This keeps people online longer, requiring more battery power. A good, simple site can be navigated quickly, allowing people to find what they need, and then get on with their lives.

Hire me

If you want to improve your site, I can help you out. Learn more about my web design services and explore example work, then contact me to get started.