Here are several key components you should consider when building an effective web site. Mastering these elements will make your web site more visually appealing, user-friendly, and encourage repeat traffic.
Having a clean and neat layout is important for your visitors to be able to move around the site efficiently. Remember, they are usually there for specific information. Make it easy for them to find that information. If you are having trouble keeping your navigation clean I recommend using a template. My friends over at FreeWebTemplates can help you out greatly.
When a user visits a page for the first time they are usually looking for specific information and they want to be able to find that information easily. Your navigation should be descriptive and logical. Your main links should either be at the top of the page or across the left side. This is where most people will look. I recommend that your navigational links be underlined and a different color than the rest of the text. This allows visitors to easily distinguish between normal content and links. I recommend having a sitemap available not only for the visitors but for search engine robots also.
I'm sure everyone has heard the phrase "content is king" and well, it's true for the most part. An effective web site needs unique and valuable content. This not only helps your search engine ranking, it helps your visitors find what they are looking for and encourages them to come back again. Content needs to contain keywords that pertain to your web site. Do not overstuff your keywords. There should be between 3-7 keywords per 150 words.
Links serve a very valuable and important function for web sites. Links tell the visitors where they need to go to find their information. Links should contain key phrases. Once again, if you have a garden web site a good link may be "How to Grow Roses" or "Growing Roses In Poor Soil". Also, making some of your key phrases in your content links is a good idea.
Screen resolutions & Browser compatibility
It is vital to design your pages to work on multiple browsers and screen resolutions. My personal philosophy is that it should fit comfortably in a 800×600 resolution, however, most people nowdays use at least 1024×768 but there is no reason to design a website that is 1024 pixels wide.
Also, your web site should look the same when using different browsers. Firefox, Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Safari all read web sites a little different. There are some Firefox add-ons where you can test your browser in IE.