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To put it briefly my philosophy is
"Simple can be Good"
Keep the pages clean, uncluttered and fast loading.
Clean - A simple look that can still offer ease of reading. Fads come
and go, but a simple elegant look will never look dated.Uncluttered - Plenty
of good information is always a good idea along with an easy to use navigation
system. This can be laid out in a fashion, with bullets and plenty of white
space, that will make the page look neat and easy to read and navigate.
Fast loading - In these times of 1-1/2 second attention spans it is
necessary for your pages to load faster than ever. It used to be especially
the first page, but with the popularity of the various search engines, visitors
enter your site on almost any page.
Many people say that with fast Internet connections becoming the norm it's not as big a deal. I think the opposite may be true, because of this visitors are willing to give you even less time for your page to load. If a visitor is coming to your site for some specific information that they believe that you will have, they will wait longer, so it may be a good idea to put this sort of thing on a secondary page.
Don't override the users settings. Unless it is absolutely necessary
let the visitors browser control the way they view your site. Some people
have their browser set to view text in a particular way. There are many people
who need special settings to enjoy web pages.
Most people don't ever change their default settings, but that means they are also used to viewing pages their own way. Your pages should feel comfortable and familiar to your visitors.
Let the search engines find you. Write good content and lots of it.
Static pages are far better than dynamic pages. Let the search engines find
your site by following from other links to you site. They will reward you
when they find good content. Your ranking will still be high even after
they change their algorithms (which is a constant occurrence).
Keep content fresh. If you think about why you would want to go back
to any site what would that be?
Probably to find something new, you wouldn't be interested is old content very often.
I believe search engines work the same way. Their goal is to please their customer who is the searcher. So if the searcher is looking for something new and the search engine wants to please them it stands to reason that the search engines will give a higher ranking to sites that offer new content on a regular basis.