Design Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these mistakes and your site will be steps ahead of your competition.

1. Not planning your site

Before you even have a website, you must have an idea, a focus. Why do you want a website? What are your plans and goals for the site? Sit down and draw out a map of possible pages and ideas for your site. Include your site’s purpose –whether it is to sell more product or make the public more aware of your issue — whatever it may be. Build your site from it’s strong foundation (your goals) and you’ll have a better, more solid site.

2. Failing to put contact information in a plainly seen location.

This could be disastrous. If a customer doesn’t see this information, they can’t contact you. You should consider a ‘Contact Us’ button or link from your Home page. Even better, make a link to your email address in your header or footer, somewhere that will show up on every page. Even if no one ever contacts you this way, just the presence of this information comforts edgy customers.

3. Broken Links

Do you enjoy clicking on a search result only to get a Page Not Found Error? No one likes them. Check your site statistics at least once a month (if not more) to make sure you don’t have bad or broken links.

4. Outdated Information

A sure turn-off to a potential customer is the presence of old information. If it’s July and your website is announcing the ‘new’ products available in February, your site just lost major credibility. Make sure your information is up-to-date. Consider adding a ‘Whats New’ button or a Business Blog.

5. Too Many Font Styles and Colors

This is a huge pet-peeve of my company. I’ve had people ask me to review their website and the first thing I notice is 4 different fonts. It looks bad, unorganized and unappealing. Different colors may attract the eye for a short time, but constant flashing or otherwise bright fonts (and graphics!) become annoying. Beware, this is a sure-fire way to scare people away from your site!

6. Orphan Pages

Every website has a hierarchy, a sort of tree that branches out from the Home Page. While most of your visitors visit you through your home page, there are times when a page further down interests someone, and they may copy that link and send it to a friend. This is where you need to pay attention. That friend may like what you have to offer, but they can’t find out how to contact you, or how to get back to your Home Page. That’s an orphan page. Every page on your site should, at a minimum, have a link back to your Home page. I would suggest adding a contact link at minimum.

7. Frames

Frames at one time were the talk of the industry. They were the original Content Management System (CMS) for your site. Nowadays they are few and far between. If you are designing a site, don’t use frames. Newer technologies such as server-side includes are much more common and accepted. Your pages look fresher and those silly bars don’t get in the way.

8. Disabling the BACK button and excessive Pop-Ups

Have you been to a website and decided that it wasn’t the information you were looking for? When you clicked the BACK button, did you suddenly get a barrage of windows (or, pop-ups) to your dismay? These things rarely actually work, and worse off, the reason you hit the BACK button is because you DIDN’T want any more information from that site. Don’t break the BACK button. There are other ways to get your user’s attention.

9. Slow loading pages

While personal and hobby sites may normally be slow, there should be no reason for your business or other professional website to be slow loading. Today’s Internet surfer won’t wait long for information from your site – there are too many others with the same thing! Make sure your pages load quickly. If the server is slow, consider a different host. If your webpages are full of applets or large graphics, consider a page/site redesign.

10. Using Leading-Edge Technology

While the Internet is all about new and fancy stuff, don’t be the first to do it. While it may ‘look cool’ to you, you ultimately need to decide if it actually enhances your user’s experience. Do the flashy cartoons make your customer more apt to buy from you? Probably not. How many of your customers have to install a Plug-In just to see your page right? Do they have to upgrade their browser to contact you? Not good. Wait until the technology is either more of a standard or gone – you’ll save face with potential and future customers.

Website Elements That Attract Visitors

Here is a quick list of components that make a website  attractive. They are listed in layers of attractiveness  beginning with the “must” haves, to “nice to haves.”

1. State the website’s purpose up front and clearly of the  site. Do this as quickly as possible. The visitor needs to  know immediately if they have landed on the right site. n They also need to know “what’s in it for me to stay here.”
If you don’t provide this, they are gone. 90% of the sites  on the Net don’t do this.

2. Give visitors the ability to search for exactly what  they are looking for, if they have something exact in  mind. A “site search feature” satisfies this best. Allow  the search feature to be prominently displayed and not  hidden away somewhere. It is best place in the navigational  system so that it shows up on every page. Sales letter only  websites are an exception to this rule. Return visitors and  visitors that have something specifically in mind, want the  option and ability to find what they want fast. So give it  to them.

3. Photos allow connection. Especially to people who  process visually. Clip art gets them to pay attention,  however, it doesn’t create much of a connection. Personal  photos connect within reason. Keep them less than three to  a page. One photo always needs to be in the top portion of  the screen on the first page. It doesn’t need to be large,  but attractive.

4. Ways to capture visitors information wherever possible.

5. Place items on the site that keep them lingering. Audio  and video are one of these, yet there are other less time  consuming and inexpensive ways to keep them entertained.

6. Articles. For solopreneur sites, your own written  articles. For other sites, articles with various authors  yet on focus.

7. Interactive elements. For example: response forms,  quizzes

8. If you use a shopping cart, it must be fluid, no  hiccups. PayPal is not a shopping cart, it’s a hiccup. All  auto responders must be well written and positive. If  someone purchased something, they need the energy of “thank  you.”

9. Give offers that are of value.

10. Clear path of where a newcomer can start if it is their  first visit.

11. Newsletter that is consistent with the 80/20 rule.  80% value and 20% marketing.

12. E-courses of value.

13. Well-written e-books: 50-75 pages, plus valuable  information (info not found anywhere else). Length doesn’t  do more than provide perceptive value. Once purchased and  the vastness is only fluff, then your credibility is shot.  Complimentary e-books meet the same requirements.

14. Give them other ways to receive more on…you if you are  the focus…or the information if that is the focus.

15. Automated referral system. If you want referrals for  your products or services, make it easy for you to get them.  Set it up so it’s as automatic as possible, and clear and  easy for someone to send you a referral. Be clear on what  aand how you want to give for that referral.

Posted in Web

Things That Make A Web Site Great

First you need original content. Content is the heart beat of any exceptional Web site. The ability to take a common subject and give it some interest and originality is a rare talent,but necessary to keep visitors coming back. Add a dash of humor, be sure to update once or twice a month and look out, you’re on your way.

Second you need, great graphics. If your graphics are properly used they can greatly enhance a web site and it’s content. However, if you overuse or they take forever to load, you will drive visitors away before they even see the content. The irony here is that just about anyone can make decent graphics and expensive programs are not required.

Third, you need a good presentation. Good Web sites do not keep the user guessing. They make their purpose immediately evident and present an easy to follow navigation system. The content and graphics blend in perfectly with the presentation and following it is a simple matter. You will never find hyperbole or confusion caused by overuse of animated graphics,Java or anything else that will serve to mask the intent and content of the site. Most importantly, a great Web site is run by a competent and knowledgeable Webmaster. One who knows how to seamlessly move the visitors to each level of the site. A great Web site is not a side show, it’s a simple (no-need-to-be flashy) library of content. It just does what it is supposed to do and leaves the hoopla behind.

Last, but not least your site needs to be both interactive and proactive. Good web sites are ones that are people conscience.While, yes, the Internet is the cutting edge of technology and
all that, remember it’s just regular people, like you and I that are using it and will make it what it is in the future. The great web sites are the ones with the developers who not only
have all the techno skills, but the people skills to boot. Think about the sites you visit over and over. What keeps you coming back. Useful content. Yes. How about that feeling of
belonging. Like someone is actually having a one on one conversation with you. The ability to provide the opportunity to express and contribute is the mark of a superior web developer
and what makes a web site one of the great ones.

Graphic Design Using Color

Color is everywhere and conveys a message even if we don’t realize it. While this message can vary by culture it pays toGraphic Design Using Color know what colors “say” in your own corner of the universe, and even what color means to your target market.

If you don’t think that color speaks just complete this sentence, “red means —- and green means -” even a child will know what red means stop and green means go. If such simple ideas work for all of a given culture or market what could it mean to the graphic design of your website, brochure, or product if you know some of this information.

First let’s start with the basics. The color wheel. We’ve all seen it. The color wheel shows the basic colors, each wheel is different in how many shades of each color is shown, but they are essentially the same.

Color harmony, colors that go together well. These will be colors that are next door to each other on the color wheel. Such as blue and green. In reference to clothes these colors match each other. Instinctively most of us know which colors go together when we dress ourselves every morning.

Color complements, colors that set each other off, they complement each other. These are colors that are opposite on the color wheel. Such as blue and orange.

Color depth, colors can recede or jump forward. Remember that some colors seem to fall back such as blue, black, dark green, and brown. Other colors will seem to step forward such as white, yellow, red, and orange. This is why if you have a bright orange background it may seem to fight with any text or images that you place on it. The orange will always seem to move forward.

Now you have the basics so let’s go further. Just because to colors go together or complement each other doesn’t mean that yo necessarily want to use them on your project. I opened this article with the meaning of colors now here is an example, keep in mind this is one example from western culture.

Color Survey: what respondents said colors mean to them.

Happy = Yellow Inexpensive = Brown
Pure = White Powerful = Red (tomato)
Good Luck = green Dependable = Blue
Good tasting = Red (tomato) High Quality = Black
Dignity = Purple Nausea = Green
Technology = Silver Deity = White
Sexiness = Red (tomato) Bad Luck = Black
Mourning = Black Favorite color = Blue
Expensive = Gold Least favorite color = Orange

So in designing your project it’s important to know what colors mean. You can now see why a black back ground with green type would be bad, beyond being nearly impossible to read, if your target market thinks that black represents mourning and green makes them sick. There are exceptions to every rule of course.

So you may want to include some research in what colors mean to your target market. Colors that would get the attention of a teen would probably annoy an older person and the colors that appeal to the older person wouldn’t get a second look from a young person.

Color may be one of the most overlooked aspects of design.