Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Top Ten List Of Extremely Annoying Web Page Design Elements!

Easy navigation and usability are one of the most important aspects of creating a "user friendly" website. However, there are still a "plethora" of web-sites out there that are, to be politically correct, “functionally challenged.”

Does your website keep people captivated, or does it send them fleeing as soon as they get to the first page? Do you offend your visitors by employing these ten web design faux pau’s?

1) Music, or any voice recording that automatically plays when you enter a site, without the option of turning it off. Yes, there are still website owners who think that putting their Midi version of "Play That Funky Music Whiteboy" will some how impress their visitors.

Always give people the option of listening to any recorded information you have on your website. Don't automatically assume that your visitors will be captivated by your voice, or your music.

2) Spinning or animated GIF's of any type. Floating cursors that follow me around while I am visiting your site. If you want to distract me from viewing your information, then incorporate this “flotation device” into your design repertoire! It is like having a security camera follow my every move!

Obnoxiously large font that takes up the whole landing page, and web pages that do not fit in my viewing screen. If you are not sure how your website looks on other browsers, then use this free tool called Browsersizer: http://www.applythis.com/browsersizer/

Browsersizer helps web developers see how their web pages look on different screen resolutions. Slow loading web pages. Compress, or eliminate large lumbering graphics. Your landing page should load in 10 seconds or less. Here is a website that will analyze you load times: http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/

Web-sites that are “Under Construction.” Don’t promote what you don’t have. It is almost guaranteed that once I see that logo on your site, I will not visit again to see if your construction is finished. Web-sites that don’t not allow me to use the “back button.”

Eliminating my ability to move out of, or through your website, has me looking for the X button. If you want people to visit much, and often, then make your site with the dynamic content that will persuade people to add your site to their favorites file.

3) Any website that looks like it resembles Times Square in New York City. Multitudes of “flashing” or “blinking” banner ads shoved in my face as soon as I reach your landing page will send me running.

Flashing banner ads are the equivalent of a carnival barker trying to lure people into his sideshow! You don’t need to shout to people to get you message heard on the Internet. Keep you banner ad’s limited, and your content abundant!

4) Website owners that make it too hard to navigate their site. If I have to jump through "link hoops" to get to your information I am outta there. Make your product, price, or service, clear, precise, and easy to find.

The "about us,”or "frequently asked questions" section of some web-sites, leaves me with more questions than answers. Design your content so that even elementary school children can understand the purpose of your website.

5) Pop-Ups..Pop-Ups...Pop-Ups..I don't mind one, or even a few. But, if I have to close multiple pop-ups to get to your website, I will flee the scene. I have encountered some sites that had so many pop-ups they froze my computer screen even with blocking software.

The same applies for those "fly-in" or "hover ads" that bounce across my computer screen. If you must incorporate a Pop-Up in your website, then use a service such as Instant Attention: http://www.instantattention.com/

6) A page full of dead links and "Page Not Found" error messages. Keep your links up to date and take down the links that are no longer active.

7) Cursing or using worn out phrases like "Kick Butt," or "Kick Ass." (Example: “Kick Ass Copy-Writing Service,” “Kick Butt Web Marketing”). I can't exit fast enough when I see anyone using that phrase in website advertising copy.

It maybe an excellent marketing headline, but for me, it is a total turn-off. Impress your visitors with intelligent, informative, advertising copy and content.

8) AND SOMEONE-ANYONE-PLEASE! Stop the "ultra" dark background accented with an equally dark font! I have discovered many a website in which the background, and the text fonts are indistinguishable from each other! It looks like your are staring into a black hole!

Lighten things up a bit, and don’t make me turn the brightness controls on my monitor to full! And no, I don’t want to highlight the text so I can read the information on your website!

9) While I love Marcomedia's Flash, I think it should be used sparingly. Unless you have a film site, or a product that requires a detailed visual description, just forget about using flash for e-commerce. There are still a majority of people out there who still use those pokey dial-up modems (me being one of them) and I "hate the wait!"

Even when I use the skip feature it still takes to long for the page to load. While doing research for The Ultimate Guide To Products For Resale: http://www.productsforresale.com I noticed that some designer clothing wholesalers where using flash to sell their product. The same applied to retail sellers of designer shoes, designer handbags, and designer clothing.

My question is why? If you are using your site to sell a product, just stick with high quality, fast loading photos, followed up with good creative descriptions of each item.

If you make your site and your shopping cart system easy to use, you will earn more sales. If you absolutely, positively, must use Flash, then make your files as fast loading as possible, especially if you are selling a product.

10) Solid blocks of text with no breaks between paragraphs. The only industry that gets away with that format is newspaper, book, and magazine publishers. The Internet is a different world altogether. People not only want their information quick, but they also want to read it in smaller, "bit size" portions of content.

I like to skim over articles for the main points. If I have to "slog" through content that looks like a rambling diatribe with no paragraph breaks, I’m gone! Make your content clear and concise. Break up your paragraphs, and use plenty of "white space" when possible.

So there they are. My “Top Ten” pet peeves of dysfunctional design! Do any of them apply to you? Remember, you only get one chance to make a good impression. There literally billions of web sites out there, and you need to capture your visitors attention within seconds.

Make your site neat and ready to greet! For more information about how to make your site user friendly, go to Jakob Nielsen's Usability Site: http://www.useit.com/ site for tips on better website design.

Robert C. Potter is a wholesale and retail surplus products specialist. He is the author of “The Ultimate Guide To Products For Resale!” Over 300 Wholesale & Surplus Supply Sources For Ebay Auction Sellers, E-Commerce Websites, Flea Market Vendors, and Retail Store Owners! You can find his 160 page ebook at: http://www.productsforresale.com


Maximising Web Site Viewability Browsers

With so many different configurations internet users have their computers set up with, it can be difficult to decide how web sites should be configured so that it is viewable in as many configurations as possible.

So in the last 6 months i have been logging the statistics from my web design site to achieve as accurate a result as possible to answer this question.

The results are interesting reading and in my next few articles i will be analysing this data. First is browsers, and here are the

general statistics :

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 and above - 49%
Firefox 1.0 and above - 34%
Apple Safari - 15%
Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 - 1%
Macintosh Camino - 1%

One of the things this shows is that Internet users do in the whole upgrade their internet browsers to the newest version. Only a low percent are infact below the newest version.

It also shows that the foothold Microsoft gained in the browser wars is failing. No doubt they will once again gain ground next year with the eagerly awaited new operating system codename longhorn.

The open source mozilla firefox is gaining ground, but i have noticed that this is mainly because of users who are big gamers on the internet have switched to firefox. This is taken from statistics i did on one of my gaming sites which showed firefox on 65% and Internet explorer on 35%. It appears business users stay with Microsoft.

The message here to web designers is that web sites should be configured viewable in the 3 major browsers which are Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. This can be achieved by running the pages through a validator which can be found at http://www.w3schools.com

http://www.onestop-webdesign.com One Stop Web Site Design specialises in creating the complete web site without the buyer having to understand all the jargon. Simply sign up to our low cost monthly plan, and give us an outline of what your website should be about and what products to sell. You can then sit back as we organise everything from hosting, web site development to setting up your shop and web site ready for going live.


Maximising Web Site Viewability Resolution

This is my second article on maximising web site viewability. Analysing screen resolution data.

With so many different configurations internet users have their computers set up with, it can be difficult to decide how web sites

should be configured so that it is viewable in as many configurations as possible.

So in the last 6 months i have been logging the statistics from my web design site to achieve as accurate a result as possible to answer this question.

The results are interesting reading and in my next few articles i will be analysing this data.

resolution statistics :

1024 x 768 Screen Resolution - 52%
1280 x 1024 Screen Resolution - 24%
1600 x 1200 Screen Resolution - 11%
800 x 600 Screen Resolution - 12%
1152x 864 Screen Resolution - 7%

These statistics basically show that internet users are moving towards their highest resoultion, with the largest resoultion of 800 by 600 going by the wayside. But there is still 12% using this resolution.

I see many web designers who seem to think nobody is using 800 by 600. Ive done several polls and gathered statistics on resolution and it has hovered around 10% for quite some time. I suspect this is people who have old computers, as the most popular operating system is XP and its resolution default is near 1024 by 768. All they accomplish is lost visitors and possible sales. For a visitor there is nothing worse than viewing a website that looks awful in their particular resolution.

You can check your website in the different resolutions by right clicking your desktop and selecting Properties, then go into the settings tab to change your resolution.

I would suggest making sure your website is viewable equally in 800 by 600 and 1024 by 768. This basically covers all screen resoultions.

http://www.onestop-webdesign.com One Stop Web Site Design specialises in creating the complete web site without the buyer having to understand all the jargon. Simply sign up to our low cost monthly plan, and give us an outline of what your website should be about and what products to sell. You can then sit back as we organise everything from hosting, web site development to setting up your shop and web site ready for going live.


Web Site Templates and Their Benefits

Unarguably, the most important part of your website is content. To draw in clients or customers, you need captivating content and search engines are blind to web design. They only see content. The images, structure and colors of your website go out the window when it comes to search engine placement, which we all know is the single best traffic generator. Your web design is really only a shell that makes your content look pretty. Don’t get me wrong, your site’s design can be very important. People are influenced by colors they see, and the quality of your design lends credibility to your brand-image.

So why are so many people spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for someone to build them a custom shell for their content? The answer is simple: because they don’t know about web site templates. Or maybe more accurately: they know about templates, but don't know how to utilize them. Did you know that many web designers actually buy web site templates that they then customize to meet their clients needs?

A website template is the fastest, easiest, and most cost effective path to building your website. Where custom design can take weeks or months to finish, and can run you in the thousands of dollars, web templates are relatively inexpensive, and can be ready to publish in a matter of days. Many high-quality templates are available for under $100.

There are a few different options for finding web templates. There are membership based dealers that offer a öne-time or monthly subscription fee which buys you the right to download their entire collection. Then there are companies that deal on a one-by-one basis, selling a single template for use with one website. Personally, I find the one-by-one type companies offer much higher quality designs. Not to mention the aspect of exclusivity. If ten thousand people subscribe to a membership based template company, and one thousand of them like the XYZ template, how many websites are going to look exactly the same? You do the math.

Many of the single-sale companies offer two separate ways to buy. The first and most common is the general purchase. This gives you the right to use the design to build one website, whether you’re building a website for yourself or for someone else. Then there is the unique price. This not only gives you the right to use the template, it also means the company will stop selling the template to other customers. You will be the only one out there with that design.

I know what you’re thinking, “Even if I did get a template, I wouldn’t know how to edit it.” The great thing is it’s not hard to find a company that will sell you the template, and then help you edit the template for a nominal fee. Basically, you’re getting professional web design at a fraction of the cost. There is really no reason not to buy a web site template.

Visit your local template shop and have a look around. You may be pleasantly surprised to find exactly what you’re looking for!

Jon Hancock is the president and founder of HighTide Web Services. We are proud to be a fast growing, California based web services firm, offering high quality web site templates from some of the best designers out there, as well as excellent and affordable web hösting.


Choose & Use the Best Colors

The Psychology of Color

Are you using the best colors for your web site? Many web designers often overlook the issues of color in web design. When choosing colors for your web site there are three main areas that should be addressed.

1) The psychological effect of colors,

2) The effect on the readability of your site, and

3) The complementary choice of colors for your background, graphics, links, and text

These are all areas that must be well satisfied to create an effective and professional web site.

Listed below are a few characteristics of color that should always be considered when designing your graphics.

* Colors have an effect on our emotions within 90 seconds of viewing.

* Color choices can motivate, impress, and persuade your prospect to buy from you.

* Colors not only intensify the item, they greatly influence our behavior.

* The effects of color differ among different cultures.

* Color choices alone are sending a specific message to your viewers.

Given the fact that people respond more to non-verbal cues than verbal cues, it’s all-important that you choose the corresponding colors for the emotional trigger you want to trip. The following colors are associated with certain emotions or qualities in North American culture.

White - Suggests truthfulness, purity, clean, devotion, mild, and contemporary. White is the best color for a background color on the web. For business it can be refreshing and sterile.

Black – Suggests elegance, boldness, power, authority, seductive, evil, sophistication and classic. Black is the ideal choice for text on a light background. It is hard on the eyes when used as a background on web sites.

Red – Suggests strength, sex, excitement, passion, speed, danger, aggressiveness, and demands attention. In business it is associated with debt. Red is the most emotionally intense color. It stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing.

Blue – Suggests security, trust, reliability, coolness, faithfulness, belonging, and dignity. Blue is the most popular color. It is the second most popular color. In business it suggests fiscal responsibility and sanctuary.

Green - Suggests abundance, health, fertility, freedom, healing, nature, growth, jealously, and cool. In business it suggests status and wealth. It is the easiest color on the eye.

Brown – Suggests effectiveness, politeness, richness, and helpfulness. Brown is the color of earth, and is abundant in nature.

Gray – Suggests earnestness, authority, and practicality. In business it suggests traditional and conservative.

Pink – Suggests softness, sweet, femininity, well-being, innocence, and nurture.

Purple – Suggests dignity, spirituality, royal, luxury, wealth, authority, mournfulness, and sophistication. In business it is upscale. Purple is favored by the artistic.

Orange – Suggests playfulness, pleasure, cool, warmth, cheer, vibrant, strength, endurance, and ambition.

Yellow – Suggests sunshine, warmth, cheer, happiness, cowardice, and jealousy. In business it is appealing to intellectual types and is good for accents. Yellow enhances concentration, increases metabolism, and is the most difficult color for the eye to take in.

Gold – Suggests expensive, and prestige.

Silver – Suggests cold, scientific, and prestige.

Whenever you begin to choose your colors, think about your target market. What emotions do you want to evoke? Give some thought to the current emotion of your prospect and to the message you want to send. Then choose your colors.

Copyright 2005 Andrew Eaton

Andy Eaton is one of the most sought after graphic designers on the web, not only does he create quality graphics, but he also teaches you how to create them step by stem in his video membership site, Right now you can get access to some FREE quality videos by signing up to his action packed ezine Visit http://www.graphicsecretsexposed.com/ezine


What Content to Publish on Your Website

Many businesses want a simple website where they tell people what their business is about, some information on the products they offer and a means of contacting them.

However, content is vital in the growth of your Internet presence. Information is your asset and all you need to produce it is the knowledge you attain over time.

For some, they simply don’t know where to start. Here are some things to consider that could lead you to providing great content and a value-adding website.

1. Write what you know
Knowledge is power. Post articles to your website that show that you are well informed in your industry. If you can position yourself as an expert in your industry you can boost perceived credibility of your business on the whole.

2. Entertain
Everyone likes to be entertained. For example, if you are marketing African tours, you might publish photo galleries or post stories on the African people, travel tips, the climate, etc.

3. About Your Business
Are people interested in the current happenings in your business? Post news items on your website. Eg. “New branches Country Wide”

4. About Your Product
What do your customers often ask you about? What are their uncertainties? If you offer a “complex” product, which requires much learning on the part of the consumer, a website is a great place to teach them! This in mind, you might not want to be too technical in your copy – tell them about the benefits, not the features.
A great way to clarify uncertainties is to publish a “Frequently Asked Questions” or a “Q&A” section.

5. Back to the Plan
Take a look at your marketing and / or business plan – what goals are you trying to achieve and how are you trying to position yourself in the market place?

6. Watch your competition

6.1. What are competitors offering through their website that you are not?
6.1.1. Determine why they publish this content, then think of ways that you can improve it and use it on your website. Don’t copy – enhance.

6.2. What are you offering on your website that competitors are not This raises two questions:
6.2.1. Is the information you offer really satisfying? Does it need to be there?
6.2.2. And, if the information does give you a kind of competitive advantage, how can you capitalize on that?

7. User Behaviour
Consider your Internet market – what do they do on the Internet.

7.1. Do they like to communicate with other Internet users about your industry? Consider having a forum on your website where you can allow website visitors to do this
7.2. What websites do they visit and what kind of information might they be looking for on those websites? If this kind of information is consistent with your industry and the product / service you are marketing, try to offer this kind of information on your website

John Simms is an Internet Marketer for Eiledon Solutions, a South African company based in Cape Town offering website development and related Internet Marketing services.


Browser Compatibility

Internet Explorer, created by microsoft has been the most popular web browser for many years. But the gap is shrinking with the release of Mozilla Firefox, by an open source community.

At the last count it is said that there are 64 million firefox users on the internet. Growing in massive numbers by the day.

So, the issue with browser compatibility is at its highest importance. The way browsers are constructed, they can show a webpage slightly differently.

For instance, the IFRAME tag shows perfectly in Internet Explorer but does not show in Firefox. This is only one of many instances of none browser compatibility.

Therefore, webmasters should be making sure their web page is viewable in both internet explorer and firefox equally. If it doesnt, then they risk loosing a large percentage of web users. There is nothing worse than surfing a web site and not being able to see it properly in a particular browser.

The solution for webmasters is to make all their pages XHTML transitional. Web sites that validate to this, have a higher chance of being viewed correctly in all major browsers.

XHTML is the next generation web language, and is said to replace HTML eventually. XHTML was released in January 2000.

XHTML is not a difficult language to learn, it is basically identical to HTML but the main difference is that tags in XHTML always have an end tag.

For example, a IMG SRC tag in HTML has no end tag. In XHTML the IMG SRC tag has the end tag of />

More information on learning XHTML can be found at http://www.w3schools.com/xhtml/xhtml_intro.asp

Once you have constructed your XHTML web page then you can validate it at http://www.w3schools.com/xhtml/xhtml_validate.asp

Further, to ensure near complete browser compatibility you can validate any stylesheet here : http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/

http://www.onestop-webdesign.com - One Stop Web Site Design specialises in creating the complete web site without the buyer having to understand all the jargon. Simply sign up to our low cost monthly plan, and give us an outline of what your website should be about and what products to sell. You can then sit back as we organise everything from hosting, web site development to setting up your shop ready for going live. One Stop Web Design also create sites that validate to XHTML to ensure browser compatibility.