Websites have gained more importance than ever before. Not only are you viewing them on your laptop, mobile or tablet but the website having their own app means a new step towards brand recognition. No matter what your website is about or what kind of business you are in, your website’s look is of critical importance and plays an important role in attracting customers.

There are certain rules of the web design game that have been accepted by many established Designers and brands. If you still haven’t been following these rules, somebody needs to drag your ass out from under that bloody rock

 Without further ado, here are the 10 (or more) Commandments of Good Web Design

1. Thou shalt not abuse Flash.

Adobe’s (ADBE) popular Web animation technology powers everything from the much-vaunted Nike (NKE) Plus Web site for running diehards to many humdrum banner advertisements. But the technology can easily be abused—excessive, extemporaneous animations confuse usability and bog down users’ Web browsers.

2. Thou shalt not hide content.

Advertisements may be necessary for a site’s continued existence, but usability researchers say pop-ups and full-page ads that obscure content hurt functionality—and test a reader’s willingness to revisit. Elective banners—that expand or play audio when a user clicks on them—are much less intrusive.

3. Thou shalt not clutter.

The Web may be the greatest archive of all time, but sites that lack a coherent structure make it impossible to wade through information. Amazon.com (AMZN) and others put their sites’ information hierarchy at the top of their list of design priorities.

4. Thou shalt create immersive experiences.

Merely looking good doesn’t cut it anymore. Sites like Facebook and YouTube draw in users with compelling content and functionality. Creating Web sites that can capture and hold users’ attention is what matters most.

8. Thou shalt be social.

Designers and Developers must work together to make the website as engaging as possible. The more engaging, interesting and addictive the website is, the more people will talk about you and show it to their friends. If you are actively social and your website does something great, your website’s trend will spread like wildfire in a jungle.

9. Thou shalt embrace proven technologies.

Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, and their cohorts have become a part of daily life. Sites that can incorporate these elements into their design will connect with users in a meaningful way by providing functionality and an interface with which they’re already familiar.

10. Thou shalt make content king.

Though the slogan is old, it still stands. Aesthetic design can only go so far in making a site successful. Beautiful can’t make up for empty.

11. Thou Shalt Entertain

Have fun. We spend a lot of time thinking about accessibility, usability, performance, all that good stuff …but we sometimes forget about making it delightful and entertaining—the kind of thing that TV people have to think of all the time.

When creating a website for a client, it is easy to overlook humor. Playful designs can often become coding nightmares that creatives would rather avoid. The good news is that  web-based entertainment does not have to be complex (or even brilliant). For example, Canada’s New Democratic Party website turned a technical error into an opportunity to promote their message. When a broken link redirected web surfers to a 404 Error page, they were met with the following message: “Ottawa’s broken. And so is this link. We’re working to fix both.” The result is funny, pointed and makes visitors feel like they are interacting with a personality instead of a computer.

12.  Thou Shalt Test Everything (Even Assumptions)

Google the words “SEO tips” and the search engine returns with more than 43 million hits in .37 seconds. Since it is unlikely that all those pages are full of carefully curated information on how to get more people to your page, it’s understandable why there is so much misinformation about what works and what doesn’t. In addition to getting potentially erroneous information online, people also tend to assume that people exhibit the same habits as themselves on the interwebs. Thus,  we must test different web elements to make sure they are intuitive for the majority of the people who visit your site. 

13. Thou Shalt Iterate

Consider the following quote by Milton Glaser: “I move things around until they look right.” When designing for the web, this method still should ring true. Repeatedly moving things around until they look right is the best way to find what works for your audience. 

14. Thou Shall Prioritize

We’ve all been there: You call a meeting to discuss a project and end up discussing everything but the project. Getting sidetracked, brainstorming ideas that end up not being feasible due to budget or time constraints, etc. are all time wasters that no one has the patience for. The solution? Get better at prioritizing. One of the best sources for learning how to do this at the very first kickoff meeting is Kevin M. Hoffman’s Kick Ass Kickoff Meetings post on A List Apart. Read it. Learn it. Live it.

5. Engage Thy Community

Instagram did a poor job of relating their change of terms of service. This was actually pretty good for Flickr, who had just launched their great iPhone app.

Big companies buy small companies to get the cachet that the small companies have. “Isn’t that right?”, Jeffrey asks Rey. “Yes.”

Fonts.com are beginning to get more playful and engage with the type community. It’ll never be as cool as something like Dribbble (because fonts.com is a big company) but they can still push things forward.

The Happy Cog website has comments via Twitter (because, hey, who comments on blogs anymore?). A List Apart has embeddable comments: you can take a comment with you and embed it on your own website.

6. Love Thy User As Thyself

The first five commandments are really about this: knowing your user, and making sure they have a good experience, regardless of browser or device. Be responsive — not just in the technical definition of responsive web design, but in your mindset. Don’t make dumb assumptions just because someone is using a phone.

7. Remember The Content

Jeffrey brings up my blog post about Content First. And, of course, Mark has been writing about A Richer Canvas. Jeffrey took our words and wrote about them thusly: put the content first always. Instead of asking “Where should we put the sidebar?”, ask “Do we need a sidebar?”

Karen McGrane talks about content strategy for mobile and how it is literally becoming the law of the land: governments are mandating that content must be accessible on mobile. You don’t want to be the test case in a law suit.

10. To Thine Own Self Be True

Ah, the old Hay.net site: have hay, need hay. The site has since changed, but it’s still about hay. It didn’t “pivot.”

Smart talented people get promoted to being directors, but they might not be as good or as happy at that.

11. Think For Yourself

A bonus eleventh commandment. Don’t be a lemming.