Building's webmaster-general offers you the first of his invaluable hints for an unmissable and user-friendly website

Do use keywords often and in a variety of ways

Keywords are like the bait for your organic traffic. Websites are brilliant marketing tools and - when optimised correctly - can bring a whole new audience to your business that didn't even know existed.

There's not a catch-all easy solution to keyword optimisation. Some companies spend thousands of pounds analysing traffic and content, with an aim to re-word and re-position content in order to get more search engine traffic. These costs can be avoided if you think from the ground up when building a site. Think about what you're selling to your visitor - why are they here? What are they looking for? What do you have to offer them? And - what will they search for to find it?

After you have your key phrases, you should use them in as many places as possible and in various different guises. Let's take “Steve's Scaffolding” as an example. Their homepage should have words like “scaffolding, scaffolds, scaffold hire, scaffold erecting” and so on throughout the homepage as headings and bolded text. They also would look at including some of these phrases in the first sentence of the first paragraph on their homepage. After you've looked at the homepage, you then need to consider doing this for every page of your site. And the more varied the better.

There is an entire industry born out search engine optimisation (SEO), so it's not something that you can cover in two or three paragraphs. One SEO agency has a list of tools you can use to evaluate keywords on your site This can give you an idea of the sorts of things they look at.

Don't think you can just paste the same word over and over again at the bottom of your page or hide text by making it the same colour as the background - spiders are smarter than you think.

Don't make me think

The mantra of author and usability specialist Steve Krug is a saying to live by: your visitors are likely to arrive at your site expecting certain browsing they've come to know and love as the norm. If you've decided to not highlight hyperlinks until you roll over them or hidden your site's content in a nested accordion of menu bars, this could give your prospective client enough time to get lost, irritated, and head straight back to Google to see the next result.

Familiarity is something that your average web user likes. Innovation normally equals progression; take it too far and you'll get obfuscation. Bearing that in mind, consider including things like breadcrumbs, and keeping housekeeping links such as “contact us”, “Ts & Cs”, “FAQ” and the like in your footer.

My biggest pet peeve when it comes to consistency (or lack thereof) is the implementation proprietary scroll buttons. Design-focused companies have a tendency to try and fit their website into a tidy little square.

Scrolling arrows
Proprietary scrolling arrows stop you using mousewheels onFoster + Partners' site.

Normally this is executed badly and you end up with the caveat of expecting to scroll through their content using controls that don't function as a normal window would (how many of you use a mouse wheel nowadays?).

Web studies suggest that users mainly scan through content instead of reading every single word, as the World Wide Web is a huge place with the next site only a click away.

Don't sacrifice usability over design. Prettiness and tidiness do not equal traffic.