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The Importance Of A Good Header

city skylineCity SkylineFirst impressions are important - when you first see a city you've never been before, what do you notice? That's right, the skyline. Similarly, the first thing you see in the newspaper is the headline, and whenever you think of a TV show, you most likely think of the opening credits.

People tend to assess things based on these first impressions of them. Your website is treated just as anything else people see, they will tend to make a judgment based on the header at the top of your page. If your visitors see a header which has a professional appearance, they will assume that the content of your site is also of high quality.

wildlife website headerWildlife Website HeaderThough it isn't usually a functional part of the site, the header of a web page is one of the most important parts. With a professional and engaging header on a web page, visitors to that site will want to stay, because they will have been assured that if the header is up to a certain level of excellence, then the content they'll read there will be too.

While this may, or may not be true, it is what the reader will assume from seeing a well designed header. This reassurance will benefit you, in that the visitors to your site will not only stay to read your content during that initial visit, but will also return for future visits, and hopefully recommend you to others, and possibly link to you as well.

The header performs two basic functions on your website. It gives the viewer a quick overview of what your website is about, and it also provides an idea of the quality of your site.

Website headersWebsite HeadersEach of these functions are greatly important, but the second may be even more important than the first. There are millions of websites out there, and possibly hundreds or thousands compete with yours. If the style, or make-up of your header gives your website the look that it lacks quality or professionalism, your traffic will go to your competitors instead.

You may not realize exactly what is getting more traffic to your site, and increasing the length of the stays of visitors to your site.

Keeping visitors coming back, and staying on your site longer, is something which you can ascribe to many factors: content, better search engine rankings, new features and the like. However, in many cases it is your header which is doing all of this work: out in the open, yet behind the scenes.

For more information, or a free quotation, please contact us

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The ‘Website’ CHECKLIST : Domains, Hosting, Web Design

webite checklistWebsite ChecklistThis article is meant for all who already have a website, or who propose to buy one. Website – the term is comprised of three things : Domain, Hosting (Web space) & Web Design

There are numerous companies offering these services. I am here to discuss a few points with regards to top, and essential things you need to thoroughly check when you get a WEBSITE through one of these companies.

 

Now to the article,

Every day, I get a few phone calls of this sort :

  • Sir, My domain expires in next few days, but the company which registered it is out of business, Please RENEW it”
  • Sir, I want to transfer the domain to your server, but I don’t have the domain control panel”
  • Dear Support Team, The domain is registered thru ‘X’ and his name is listed as REGISTRANT and Admin Contact, help me”
  • I have a website since 1998, but I am not getting any enquiries through it. So what’s the point in having it renewed ? “
  • My website is down most of the time, can you do anything about it? “

If you look at the above, you could observe the common problem. Thus, a checklist is required for any WEBSITE. Lets see one by one :

domain name checklistDomain Name Registration ChecklistDomain NAME Registration : CHECKLIST

Once your domain is registered, check these things :

  • Is the DOMAIN NAME Registered with an ICANN Accredited Registrar ? (Visit : www.icann.org )
  • Does the REGISTRANT NAME and ADMINSTRATIVE CONTACT show your name/email ?
  • Did the Domain Registration Service Provider give you the Domain CONTROL PANEL with username / password to manage/modify name servers & contact details in real-time ?
  • Do you have the OPTION to get REMINDERS at the time of RENEWAL, well in advance ?

Web hosting checklistWeb Hosting ChecklistWeb Hosting (Web space) : CHECKLIST

  • Support, Support, Support – is the KEY issue when it comes to Hosting. Check the response time of the Service Provider before making an option.
  • How skilled are the technical persons ? Just put in a few queries and see how they respond ?
  • Get a quick look at the Service Provider Website and make sure its professional looking, with user friendly navigation and layout.
  • Check if they have listed TESTIMONIALS, a list of sites hosted with them, discount options for bulk purchase, payment modes. Also make sure there are NO Hidden charges. The key part to look at is : the BANDWIDTH offered for each hosting plan.
  • Multiple Domains in single hosting space. This is an added advantage and saves you money. You can ask for this option if not provided.
  • Make a deep study on the Hosting Plan you choose. Check all the essential features that are provided. To name a few, POP3 mails, SMTP support, FTP Account, Control Panel, Web mail, Spam Controller, Antivirus, Web Statistics.

website design checklistWeb Design ChecklistWebsite Design : CHECKLIST

  • Does the website designer provide you with free minor updates or for a nominal fee on a yearly contract basis ?
  • Is the website professional looking and appealing to the global audience ?
  • It has been 3 months since your launch and there are NO fruitful enquiries and you are UPSET. Wait…..go to : www.google.com and put your website name and click search. Does it show up anywhere in the results ?
  • Does the website designer provide you with monitoring service ?
  • Does the website take a lot of time to load? Make sure it loads faster, even on slow connections. Too much of Flashy animations, bigger size jpegs are NOT an option for your site. CONTENT is King. Make sure your website ‘delivers’.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free quotation, or more information

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7 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid when Promoting your Business

businessman rushingBusinesman RushingMany people rush into business thinking it will be easy to run, but very soon they realize that it is not as easy as it looks. A successful business is a finely tuned machine. In order to keep your business running smoothly, it is important to avoid making mistakes.

Here are the 7 most common mistakes to avoid:

keep your business running smoothlyKeep Your Business Running Smoothly

  1. Not having clear objectives:

 Many business people start a business without clear objectives. They fail to set realistic goals for their marketing, and consequently set themselves up for failure. It is important to make a list of goals and objectives, based on a quarterly time line. If you do not have company goals and objectives, you are like a car driving without a road map. Make sure all employees are briefed on company objectives. When your employees are not properly prepared, you will not be able to achieve company objectives.

2. Neglecting to analyze your potential customers

Neglecting to analyze your potential customers is a dangerous mistake. It can lead to many problems. When you do not analyze your customers wants and needs, you do not know what products and services to develop for them. This will lead to targeting the wrong market, and neglecting to understand your own niche market. It is important for any business to do your marketing analysis, so that you can target your market, and maximize your sales

3. Not testing:

By not testing your sales copy, and places you advertise with split testing your advertising, you will be losing sales. Split testing is simple to do, but many businesses fail to do this. This results in a lot of wasted time and effort. If you do not test your ad copy, and marketing promotions, you will not have a proper idea of the ads and promotions that are pulling, and what is not working. It is simple to do by placing 2 ads for the same product in a publication or website etc. You can then see which one is performing the best.

budgetBudget4. Not budgeting:

Budgeting is extremely important in business. Your business should never run out of money. This is especially true with your marketing and advertising ventures. It is important to have a monthly or quarterly budget for your marketing. Within that budget put aside money for each promotion you will be doing. Start small, test, and then build on successes. This will allow you to always stay solvent, and have enough for promotions.

5. Giving up too soon:

Companies go out of business at an alarming rate these days. One of the reasons is that the owners give up too soon. Just when success might be just around the corner they give up and decide to close the business down. In exactly the same fashion, marketing promotions can fail. You need to give your promotions at least 3 months before you decide to scrap them. Some promotions will take longer than others to bring results. As always, test all marketing tactics before you launch a larger promotion. Patience is one of the hallmarks of business, and you need to implement it.

6. Poor sales copy:

How often have you wanted a product, but when you read the sales page, you had serious doubts? Poor, unprofessional ad copy will cost you sales. In fact, without good sales copy, you will not be able to sell effectively at all. It is critical to your business to get this right. If necessary get an experienced copywriter to do this. It is worth the investment, as you will see returns when you make sales.

Pre Employment checksPre-Employment Checks7. Not screening your employees carefully:

To handle the extra load for the Christmas season, you will need to hire new employees. It is very important not to rush into this. There is no dearth of people needing employment, but you need to screen them carefully, before hiring. One rude customer service agent can cost you customers. Do not take this type of risk. You want to preserve the integrity of your company at all times, and screening employees is the way to achieve this. You will then be able to build a core of loyal professional employees, that will be an asset to the company.

The golden rule is to diversify. You should always use multiple forms of marketing promotions in your business. Do not just do one or two promotions, and then wait for results. This will slow company growth, and your business will stagnate. The last thing you need is to slow down your marketing in the Christmas season. So remember to diversify, and enjoy the increase in sales.

By avoiding these mistakes, you will take your company to the success you deserve. You will be able to have year round success for your business, and really be able to cash in on the Christmas season. So plan ahead and be careful not to make these common mistakes.

For a free quotation, or more information....please contact us

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Do's and Dont's Guide to Great Web Design

Web Design ProcessWeb Design ProcessWhen followed, this guide will prove to be quite a valuable web design resource. From the inexperienced to the experienced, this guide has something for everyone.

The Process of Great Web Design
Just to make sure we are all on the same page, lets begin with the basic definition for “web design”. According to Wikipedia, web design is:

“a process of conceptualization, planning, modeling, and execution of electronic media delivery via Internet in the form of Markup language suitable for interpretation by Web browser and display as Graphical user interface”.

The process of web design can be compared to the process of writing a research paper. In the conceptualization/planning stage, flowcharts (the outline) are created which illustrate the navigational structure of your website. In the modeling stage, static wireframes are created (the rough draft) which illustrate the skeletal layout for each section of your website. After the wire frames are created, graphics, colors and text are used to create the design of your web pages based on the layout of the wire frames. In the execution stage, your design is converted into a format supported by web browsers, text and content are added, and finally, your website is published live to the Internet for the world to see (final draft).

All three stages of the design process are equally important. Many web designers skip a stage in order to save time or because they don’t think that is is necessary. However, all three stages are necessary if your goal is to create a successful design and respectable website. Even if the three stages are used, there are many mistakes that web designers can make that will lead to poor-quality, non user-friendly websites. It’s time to clean out the cabinet of bad web design practices and restock it with the good ones.

web designingWeb DesigningStage 1: Conceptualization and planning

This stage is skipped more often than the other two stages. Most writers don’t enjoy creating outlines for research papers, and most web designers don’t like creating flowcharts either. Don’t be lazy. If you put forth the effort and plan out your website, then you will find the web design process to go smoothly with fewer mistakes made along the way.

There are a few things that you will need in order to effectively conceptualize and plan your website:

  • a brain
  • a pen and paper
  • (optional) flowchart software
  • a general idea of the different sections of your website

To begin, grab your pen and paper or launch your favorite flowchart software. I use OmniGraffle Professional for Mac OS X which costs $150 per license but is well worth it if you create websites on a regular basis. If you’re on a PC, then SmartDraw is a great FREE piece of flowchart software that you can use. A pen and paper work just fine, though.

There are many methods to creating flowcharts. We are going to show you the most basic way to do it for the sake of time and the length of this article. If you want to learn more about flowcharts visit flowcharts on Wikipedia.

Directly below is a sample flowchart that we created when conceptualizing Chromatic Sites. (1) At the top of the flowchart we list the name of our website. (2) Next, we include each primary section of our website: Home, About, and Services. These sections are the main navigation for your website. What the names of each section will be is entirely dependent on the content of your website. Try to use as few sections as possible so that your visitors are not overwhelmed when navigating through your website.

(3) Next, add all of the secondary pages (subsections) that will be listed on each of the primary pages. For Home, we have included Professional Web Design, Web Development, and Search Engine Optimization. The secondary navigation needs to be more descriptive than the primary navigation. The deeper your websites’ navigational hierarchy goes, the more descriptive each label should be.

The Do's

  • Less is more; keep the number of primary sections to a minimum. We use 6 sections on our website which is more than enough
  • Whether you use a pen and paper or flowchart software, keep things as clean and organized as possible. Although you (and anyone working with you) are the only ones that will be using the flowchart, it still needs to make sense
  • Your primary sections should use broader terms, while secondary and tertiary terms should be more descriptive

The Don'ts

Creating a flowchart is pretty straight forward; however, there are a few mistakes that can easily be made:

  • Don’t use very descriptive terms in your primary navigation unless your entire website focuses on one narrow topic
  • Don’t try and lump multiple topics on the same page. Create a general section for these topics and from that section create subsections. This will make the subsection (descriptive) web pages more likely to have better rankings in the search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask)

Once you have created a concise and descriptive flowchart, you’re ready to move on to the second stage of the web design process: modeling.

difference between wireframe and mockupWireframe and MockupStage 2: Modeling

In the modeling stage, static “wireframe” mockups are created. Each mockup illustrates a bare-bones skeleton of the layout for each of the web pages that will be included in your website. This stage is important because it gives us an idea of where different elements will be placed in our design. Some of these elements are:

  • logo
  • navigational menu
  • content
  • images, videos

To create these mockups, you can use a pen and paper or your preferred mockup software. In the past we have used Photoshop, but lately we have been using OmniGraffle Professional. OmniGraffle is not as resource intensive as Photoshop is and it allows us to assemble our wireframe mockups much quicker.

In addition, make sure that you have the flowchart(s) that you created nearby as you will need to reference these from time to time to make sure that you are mocking up all of the pages that will appear on your website.

To the right is an example of how a wireframe mockup should look. As you can see, there are no colors or graphics included. This is exactly how a wireframe mockup should be - a skeletal layout of your design. The purpose is to be able to have a general idea of where each of the web page’s elements will be placed.

We usually begin from the top left and work our way down to the bottom. There is no specific way that a wireframe should look. Use your imagination. However, make sure that when creating your wireframes you don’t forget to include the most important elements of a website (logo, navigational menu, content placement, images/video placement).

If some of your pages will be using the same layout, then it is not necessary to mock all of those pages up (although you certainly can). Just be sure to mockup any unique layout that your website will have. You’ll thank yourself later.

website mock upWebsite MockupThe Do's

  • mockup all unique pages
  • include important elements (logo, navigation, content placement, images/video placement)
  • start from the top and work your way down
  • reference your flowchart created in stage 1 to make you don’t forget to mockup any pages
  • save, save, save - like with anything on the computer, save your mockup(s) every 10 minutes or so
  • focus on clean, user friendly layouts
  • label your elements so you don’t forget what they are when you reference them in stage 3, execution
  • use other web sites as inspiration; there is nothing wrong with taking elements from other sites and making them your own (see “donts”)

The Dont's

  • don’t include graphics or colors (that’s for the next stage)
  • don’t make your mockups too “busy”; focus on clean, well organized, user friendly layouts
  • don’t skip this stage; it is just as important as the first and the last
  • if you take elements from other websites, make sure you don’t plagiarize; there is a difference between being inspired by another website to create certain elements of your design and blatantly ripping off their layout and colors

Stage 3: Execution

In the third and final stage, execution, the planning from stages 1 and 2 are combined to assist in creating a live, interactive website. The third stage is by far the most time intensive since you will be 1) creating the graphics 2) creating the content, and finally, 3) converting the web designs from images into code that web browsers use to present your website to the world.

By the time you reach the third stage, you should have a clear idea of:

  • how your visitors will get from one place to another (stage 1, flowchart)
  • how your web pages will be laid out (stage 2, wireframe mockups)

If you don’t have a clear idea of these two things, go back to the first and second stages and continue to develop them. You will find that the third stage is easiest when you have constructed a clear, concise battle plan for designing your website.

ditch pen and paperDitch Pen and PaperDitch the pen and paper

In stage 3, you need to be using Photoshop or another image editing program since you will be using colors and graphics to create the layout for your website.

We usually begin creating the “home” page (index) first. Use your wireframes that you created in stage 2 as a template for each of the pages you create. However, instead of using solid boxes, use graphics, colors and text instead. Each page must look exactly how you want them to look on the Internet since this is the final stage of the design process.

Be sure to include the background for your navigation (but don’t actually add the text to your image). When converted using CSS (cascading style sheets), your navigation should be in the form of text and not images. Images are not crawl-able by the search engines (the keywords used in your navigation won’t be indexed in the search engine results pages, meaning fewer people will be able to find your website). For additional information about things that you should not do involving Search Engine Optimization visit Mr. SEO’s blog.

When you’re happy with your designs and feel that they are ready to be put on the Internet, it’s time to break apart the designs so that you can create a CSS based layout. For more information on converting your layouts to CSS or marking up your website in CSS, visit W3Schools.com or The Blog Herald. After looking around the Internet, we couldn’t find a decent image-to-CSS tutorial - so expect one from us in the coming weeks. Converting your designs into CSS is extremely important since table layouts are a thing of the past.

Above and to the right is a screen shot of a nearly-completed example of the layout we mocked up in stage 2. This was taken directly from our web browser and as you can see, there is now a logo, colors, a pretty navigation system, a footer, and a most importantly, a clean, organized layout. Thanks to the planning in stages 1 and 2, our layout is well-organized and easy to use.

The Do's

  • reference your templates that were created in stage 2; though it is fine to deviate from your original layout, you shouldn’t need to
  • do some research before creating your actual design; get ideas from other sites and make them your own (without plagiarizing)
  • include color and graphics to create the final look for your web pages
  • use CSS (cascading style sheets) to convert your designs from images into markup understandable by web browsers
  • reference your flowchart from stage 1 when coding your pages with hyperlinks; it is better to use a drop down menu that includes all (or the majority) of the links in your website on every page; this will allow for easier navigation and also make your pages easier to crawl when the search engine spiders stop by; a great place to get CSS drop down menus is at Dynamic Drive
  • finalize your design while working in Photoshop or whatever image editing software you use; it can be a pain to make changes to your design once it is converted into markup (code)

Search Engine SpiderSearch Engine SpiderThe Dont's

  • don’t include the text in your navigation menus when converting to CSS; instead of using image text, use regular text that is readable by search engine spiders
  • don’t use tables when converting; even if you need to buy a book on CSS, it will be worth it; tables are dead
  • don’t skip the first two stages just to save time; your website WILL be better if you start from the beginning of the web design process (instead of at the end)
  • don’t forget to compress your images when they are cut apart for CSS; there is nothing worse than a slow loading website because of large image files; Photoshop has a “Save Optimized For Web” option (CS3 - “Save for Web and Devices”)

Process Makes Perfect

By following a web design process such as the one illustrated in this article, you increase the chances of creating a website that is well-organized, easily navigable, and very user-friendly. Lets face it - if visitors get lost or become confused while attempting to surf your website, they might hit the back button and look for a more user friendly website. People do not like to think when it comes to finding their way around websites. Don’t make them think. You do the thinking by planning out your website from stage 1 to stage 3 and you will find that more people will enjoy visiting your website.

For a free quotation, or more information....please contact us

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5 Things To Hate About Web Design (and how to fix them)

hateHateWhat do you hate most about websites? If you browse websites as much as we do, then there is a lot to hate. Because there are so many terribly designed, user non-friendly websites on the Internet today, we have put together this short but detailed list of things to hate about web design. In addition to compiling this list, we’ve also provided a solution for each of the problems.

When creating a web design, there are a number of things that a web designer should take into consideration if their goal is to produce a high quality, user friendly website.

vomiting manVomiting Man1. Vomit Inducing Color Schemes

There is nothing worse than visiting a website and seeing a borderline-gruesome, mismatched, out of control color scheme. As basic as it is, some people have a terrible time choosing successful color schemes. Though there are millions of colors to choose from, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Whether you want to pay for a piece of software that will significantly simplify the color scheme selection process or use one of the free color scheme tools available on the Internet, you will be implementing attractive and successful color schemes in no time.

To Pay

If you want to pay for a color scheme application that will do all of the work for you, then your best solution is the Color Schemer Studio. Located at http://www.colorschemer.com and available in both Mac OS X and Windows flavors, this tool not only builds you an entire color scheme based on a single color, but it also generates monochromatic, complement, split complement, triad, tetrad, and analogous harmonies based off of that same single color that you choose. It is absolutely remarkable. There are a lot of other neat and extremely useful features built into this application, too.

colorschemer studioColorschemer Studio Not to Pay

If you would rather not pay the $49.99 for the Color Schemer Studio (even though it is worth every penny), then there are free alternatives available. Navigate to http://www.colorsontheweb.comand you will find a Flash based color scheme tool called the Color Wizard. Although not quite as user friendly as the Color Schemer Studio, the Color Wizard has a lot of features built into it. You can either enter a hex color code or move the sliders back and forth to find the color that you’re looking for. The Color Wizard also gives you multiple harmonies based off of the single color that you choose. The Color Wizard is a solid (and free) color schemer product. The only downside to the Color Wizard is that it is available only to be used on the Internet. In comparison, the Color Schemer Studio does not require an Internet connection since it is located on your computer’s hard drive.

Less is More

When choosing your color scheme, don’t use too many colors. The statement “less is more” should always be applied during the color scheme selection process. How many colors should one use? Thats a difficult question to answer. Although there is no set number, it is generally best to work around three colors if possible:

  • Primary color: The main color that occupies the majority of the page. The primary color sets the overall tone.
  • Secondary color: The second color that has a purpose of backing up and reinforcing the primary color. The secondary color is usually a color that is similar to the primary color.
  • Highlight color: This is a color that is used to emphasize certain areas of the page. It is usually a color which contrasts more with the primary and secondary colors, and as such, it should be used with moderation. If you’re using color schemer software like the ones mentioned above, it is common to use a complimentary or split-complimentary color for this.

There are a lot of resources available on the Internet that explain color schemes in greater detail. However, if you use any of the color schemer solutions mentioned above and follow the basic tips which we have mentioned, then you shouldn’t have a problem creating a beautiful color scheme for your website.

2. Flash Abuse

When used excessively or in inappropriate places, Flash is terrible for your website - terrible for Search Engine Optimization and perhaps more importantly, terrible for your visitors. Don’t get us wrong - Flash is a remarkable program that allows creative multimedia geniuses to produce some fascinating work. However, the following implementations of Flash should be excluded from your website:

flash website navigation elementsFlash Website NavigationNavigation

Probably the most abused and misused method of using Flash, Flash navigation is usually bad or extremely bad. Why is it bad you ask? Well, there are a number of reasons:

  • Search Engine Optimization: If you’re familiar with SEO, then you know the importance of having text on your website. Text is what makes indexing your website in the search engines possible. The problem with Flash is that the search engines do not go inside of the Flash files to collect the text information. What this basically means is that when the search engine spiders crawl through your website and come across your Flash navigation file, they crawl right over the top of it. If you have keywords in your Flash navigation that are relevant to the content of your website, then they won’t be indexed or even noticed by the search engine spiders.
  • Page load time: Using Flash for your navigation will slow down the load time for your web page. Yes, using anything on your website will add to the load time; however, some things (such as Flash navigation) are avoidable. Some Flash file sizes are larger than others - the larger the file size means a longer download time means the more your already impatient visitors have to wait.
  • User non-friendly: The purpose of website navigation is to provide for your visitors a means of, well, navigating throughout your website. Flash navigation crosses over from bad to extremely bad when the visitor must wait for an animation to complete each time their mouse cursor rolls over an item in the menu. In case you didn’t already know, people hate waiting. There is nothing worse than having to wait even just a few seconds in order to activate a particular navigational item after rolling over it. Not only can the animations be annoying, but sometimes the menus are just downright confusing (i.e. Picture elements are used instead of words for each item).
  • What about people who don’t have Flash?: Not everyone is using Flash these days. Although it is usually rare that someone doesn’t have Flash activated on their computer, it still occurs. These Flash-disabled users will have no way of finding their way around your website. And since one of the key ingredients to a successful website is navigation, not having navigation to those with Flash disabled will make your website look quite terrible (and more importantly, non-interactive and useless).

The best way to build a SEO friendly, fast loading, user friendly, ultra compatible navigational menu is by using CSS (cascading style sheets). CSS solves all of these problems that you will encounter when using Flash navigation. There a number of free CSS navigational menu resources available on the Internet. Dynamic Drive CSS based navigational menus located at dynamicdrive.com are extremely popular and widely used by web designers and web developers, including us.

flash introFlash IntroFlash Intros

Without a doubt the worst way to use (or should we say misuse) Flash is to have a Flash intro on your website. In case you don’t already know, Flash intros are those annoying animations that play when you first arrive at some websites. If the content of your website is engaging and useful, then there is no real reason to have a Flash intro. Adding to the fact that most people are impatient when surfing the web, many of them do not have the time or patience to watch a lengthy Flash intro.

If you’re going to have a Flash intro, then at least include a “Skip Intro” button that is clearly visible to the user. Even better, instead of making the Flash intro something that is automatically shown to all visitors, place a descriptive link somewhere inside of your website that, when clicked, allows the user to view your promotional animation (usually what Flash intros are).

Finally, be careful with the inclusion of sound in your Flash intro. If someone has their speakers turned up to a high volume, then you could be responsible for scaring the living daylights out of them (and scaring them away from your website as well).

information overloadInformation Overload3. Information Overload

Having too little information on pages of your website can make them seem bare and boring; however, having too much information can overwhelm the user (which isn’t something you particularly want to do). Ads, images, text, more ads, navigation, secondary navigation, content, more ads… they all start to add up.

Although there is no rule as to how much information per web page is enough, you should try and limit your web pages to the following:

  • Header/logo: All websites need a header/logo to identify who they are. For usability purposes, try and keep the height of your header at a moderate size. Most of our headers are no more than 200 - 300 pixels tall. Anything taller than 300 pixels and you take the risk of forcing the user to have to scroll down just to see the navigation and content of your website. Yes, we want the user to look at the navigation and content of your website; however, less scrolling makes for an easier and more enjoyable visit for the user.
  • Navigation: All websites must have a functional navigational system in order for users to be able to find their way around the website. Using vertical or horizontal menus are a matter of personal preference. Although one menu is necessary, try not to have more than one. Multiple navigational menus can easily confuse the user. If you have a lot of sections on your website, then try using a CSS drop down menu which will allow you to include a great deal of navigational items while taking up a minimal amount of space.
  • Ads: Many websites provide a service to their visitors for free. It is because of advertisements that most of these services are available for free. When using advertisements, don’t abuse their usage. Google AdSense allows a maximum of 3 ads per web page for a reason - too many ads can make your web site look like spam in no time. Placement of advertisements is also important. Don’t try to trick your visitors by placing your ads in areas where they look like actual content on your web site. People do not like to be tricked. If they want to visit your advertising sponsor, then they will click on the ad.
  • Content: Each web page should have an area for content. This main section should be the focal point for each web page. Having a lot of information about the topic for each web page is absolutely fine. Make sure not to include too many different topics on one web page. Instead, split the topics up and allow for each to have its own page.
  • Images: Use images moderately and only when necessary in your content area. Images take longer to download than text. Make sure that your images are properly compressed so that the download time for your web pages are not compromised due to large images. Nothing says “amateur web designer” more than having large, uncompressed images that take minutes to load.
  • Footer: The information contained in footers vary from website to website. Try not to stuff too much information in the footer - especially important information. Not all users scroll down to the bottom of web pages to see the footer - some stop at the end of the content. If you have important information that must be placed inside of the footer, then begin the footer soon after the content area ends. Placing the main links for your website in the footer is a practice commonly used by designers.

There may be additional things that a website requires depending on the topic and the industry; however, all websites should contain these 6 elements. Developing a navigation and layout strategy before building a website is essential in guaranteeing that your website doesn’t suffer from information overload.

text inside imageText Inside Image4. Image Text: A Big No No

Like a car inside of an airplane hanger, text does not belong inside of an image. The only exception to this should be using text inside of a logo. Yes, it can be boring using the same text that everyone else uses for their websites. However, you can still make rich and compelling designs without sticking fancy text inside of your images.

There are a few reasons why using text inside of images is a no-no:

  • Larger image file sizes: Each piece of information inside of an image adds size to the file. As we mentioned earlier, the larger the file size means a longer download time means the more your already impatient visitors have to wait.
  • Not SEO friendly: Just like Flash files, search engine spiders cannot detect the textual information inside of image files.

If you have an image that requires text, then try an alternative method using CSS layers. Not only is this method easy to implement, but it will help keep the image file size smaller. It is also SEO friendly.

too many columnsToo Many Columns5. Attack of the Columns

No, this isn’t a spin off of the Star Wars movie. Attack of the Columns is a phrase we use when a web designer uses more than a few columns in their layout. Some designers believe that by using more than a few columns they can better organize and display the information on their web page. The problem is, just like information overload, using too many columns will overwhelm the user.

When more than 2 or 3 columns are used, a focal point is usually eliminated from the web page. Without a focal point, the user has no idea where to look. Instead, the user’s eyes wander aimlessly throughout the web page. This will cause the user to feel confused and overwhelmed and might make them go to a similar website with a cleaner, less-busy layout.

Even if there is a focal point, there is probably going to be too much information on a 4+ column layout. If huge sites with massive amounts of content (i.e. Amazon.com) are able to work with a 3 column layout, then there is no reason that any other website can’t do the same. Plan your layout before you start building your website and you will find that even if you have a lot information and content, a 3 column layout is more than enough.

all smilesAll SmilesHappier Visitors

These 5 Things to Hate About Web Design are very important - perhaps the most important things a web designer should take into consideration when building a website. All 5 of these items have one thing in common: when followed, the user will have an easy, fast loading, straight forward experience when they visit your website. What more could they ask for? Well, maybe less advertising.

For a free quotation, or more information, please contact us

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