"A thing of beauty is a joy forever," penned the poet John Keats. Today, if Keats were Internet literate, he might have typed in some Usenet newsgroup, "An attractive Web site can be a magnet for millions."

The Web makes it easy to create an engaging digital monument to your agency, the services you provide and the key people involved; however, this wonderfully enabling technology can also make it easy to create monuments that are coyote ugly, which can cast a shadow on your whole operation.

Whether you're building a simple site comprised of some text and a few graphics, or you are overseeing a multi-leveled site full of digital doodads, you should keep the principles of good Web design in mind.

Even though the Web is so new, there's a definite consensus about what works and what doesn't.

Respect People's Time

Until high-speed Internet access from cable and telephone companies becomes widespread, don't bog down your site with huge, bandwidth-clogging graphics. Confronted with huge images that fill their screen at glacial speed, many visitors will quickly surf to another site.

One rule of thumb is that no single graphic should be larger than 25 to 50 kilobytes, and no single page should include more than 200 kilobytes of graphics in total -- unless absolutely necessary. If you need to include a large, detailed image, first provide readers with a smaller, thumbnail-size version and let them determine if the larger image is worth their time.

The same principle applies to multimedia elements. Give visitors the option of receiving any sizable Java applets or Shockwave movies.

If part of your site is still under construction, don't create a link to it yet. Those pass

Reid Goldsborough  |  Contributing Writer
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at reidgold@comcast.net or www.reidgoldsborough.com.