Being a freelancer is a difficult job in and of itself, but when you add a major metropolitan area to the mix things can get downright crazy.

Pockets of civilization dot the landscape here and there, with better sections tending to be near the outskirts where people like me live. Away from all that though are miles and miles of nothing at all besides roving gangs looking to see what they can take from the next guy.

The first thing people notice about a website is its overall design. A bad first impression can mean visitors just hit “back” right away, so you have to design your site correctly the first time. The tips you are about to read will help you design your site the right way so that this doesn’t happen.

When you are designing a website, it is important to have proper spelling and grammar. In addition to running spell-check on your content, ask a friend or co-worker to proofread everything. Having good spelling and grammar on your website will help give it a professional feel and your visitor will be more likely to return.

Use ALT tags whenever possible. These helpful tags describe an image to a viewer, assisting the visually impaired, as well as those who prefer to browse without images. As an added bonus, some search engines include these tags in their rankings, so you may get a boost by using them.

Avoid creating user interface (UI) controls that mislead your visitors. These controls include elements, widgets and more that create an interactive experience, such as a link, drop-down list or button. You do not want to make visitors think that clicking on an underlined word or phrase for example, will lead to a new page if it is not actually linked to something else. When your visitors have expectations of something working a certain way and it does not, they are more likely to assume there is something wrong with your site and leave.

Test your website before it goes live. There’s nothing worse then launching your new website and having to take it down right away due to bugs or other issues. Get a group of people together who are using different web browsers and computer platforms, and ask them to use a beta version of your website, writing down any issues they come across.

So that you can create a visually appealing site, get yourself a web design program. Many of these programs are easy to use and you can build a great website rather quickly. If you have a site that looks bad, you won’t attract the visitors you need.

To help you design a more professional looking site, do not include an image in the page background. A background image screams low quality site, plus these site usually take forever to load. When you are going for a more professional look, the last thing you want is your visitors waiting forever because images are still loading on your pages.

Minimize the amount of clicking or scrolling visitors must do to access information. The more a user has to click or scroll around to find the information they seek, the more likely they are to give up looking for it. Aim for having at least 400 words on every page of your site by combining pages that have content that falls below this number of words.

Make sure your site loads quickly. People are more likely to leave your site if the load time is too long. Do your best to reduce graphics, scripts, and Flash.

Proofreading your content will ensure that it does not looked rushed or amateur. You want your site to flow well, so that visitors can read it quickly without getting caught up in content mistakes. When you have glaring errors, it sheds a negative light on you and your business.

Make sure you have different designs from other designs of those in your particular niche. You want to check this by checking out the websites of your competitors. If you’re too similar visitors might confuse your site with the competition. You don’t want people to think of you as a generic version of one of your competitors, and that’s exactly what’ll happen if you make similar websites to your competitors.

You should set aside at least one day per week to update your website. If you’re not updating it, you should at least check up on it to make sure that it’s functioning properly. As a site designer, it’s up to you, and you alone, to ensure that your site is in perfect working condition. If you fail to do so, you could lose a lot of traffic.

The design of your site not only should please the eye, but it must also present your content in a way in which your reader will be able to find it. You want the first impression of your site to be a favorable one. With any luck, you will have learned something new about designing an appealing and user-friendly website.