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Cheat Sheet

Hints for Web Design

Here are some basic rules for designing usable websites. The internet would be a much more pleasant place if everyone followed these rules.

  1. Compressing image files
  2. General Web Design
  3. Opening links in a new window

Compressing image files

Last updated: 2011-08-10
Level: Intermediate
  • Windows
  • OS X
  • Linux
  • BSD
  • Solaris

Different programs can produce surprisingly divergent results when exporting pictures for the web. For example, for two thumbnail images of book covers I recently posted there was a 3x size difference depending on which program I used. One of the images took 1/3 the space when compressed using, the other when using ImageMagick. It's good that I looked at the file sizes before posting, and knew to try another program.

If the image you are compressing is a PNG, try pngcrush. Depending on the image, you can usually save about 15% of the filesize.

General Web Design

Last updated: 2011-11-28
Level: Beginner
  • Usability should always win over showing off.
  • Never, never, use JavaScript or target to open a new window. If I want a new window, I'll open it manually.
  • If you are thinking of creating a popup window, stop to think if you really need it. Most of the time you don't. A notable exception is AJAX calendars.
  • If you are thinking of using Flash, stop to think if you really need it. Most of the time you don't. The chances of needing to use Flash are vanishingly small.
  • Do not play a video or sound without the user first clicking on a play button. I cannot think of a single time I wanted a media file to automatically start.
  • Design your site to look good on any size monitor. It must be usable on 13 inch notebooks, 9 inch netbooks, and iPhones, not just your 22 inch desktop or 17 inch laptop.
  • Use proper HTML character codes. A common mistake is to use Windows curved quotes instead of the proper HTML quotes (“”).

See also: To Make a [Good] Web Page; it is dated, but still relevant. Brent Simmons wrote a good post on on the design of a good website that many designers can benefit from reading.

Opening links in a new window

Last updated: 2011-01-17
Level: Beginner

This is a common question with an easy answer: don't.

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Contact us using one of our first names at schuttdesign dot net.