Reading broadcast and the Internet
Try this at home. Turn your TV to a news channel like CNN or MSNBC and mute the sound. Do the visuals communicate without sound? News channels rely heavily on graphics and visuals to tell their stories. The same is exceedingly true for the Web. The only exception is that the Web is user driven. That means your Web site visitor must click and navigate around your Web site to browse its information.
Does your navigation “read” well? Do your photos and graphics communicate quickly and clearly? If not, your site may be getting passed over by disinterested visitors.
Design is all around us. It permeates our lives from the subliminal to the intentional. The keyboard you’re typing on and the mouse you’re clicking were first developed and conceived by an industrial design team. The chair you’re sitting in was developed by an ergonomics design team. The box your chair was shipped in and its printing was developed by an advertising packaging team.
Design is critical to successfully selling your product to the public. Your Web site is literally your storefront or advertisement to the world. Make sure it’s designed to invite, inform and intrigue.
Do not covet thy neighbor’s concept
People tend to covet what they see. I know this because clients frequently bring me their ideas, hopes and dreams. And many times they’re of Web site concepts they’ve seen elsewhere. This is good creative fuel for inspiration, but it’s best to create a concept from the core of your own business branding.
Innovate, don’t regurgitate. Consult a design professional who will collaborate with you in building a Web site concept that conveys your message. A great concept leaves a memorable impression.
Here’s an example. Let’s say client “A” sells shoes. Simple enough. Post the logo, Web copy and pictures of some great looking shoes. Maybe even some bold, snazzy sales copy like, “Super Sale on Brown Shoes”. Client “B” decides to take a different approach. He gets a photo of a businessman in a nice suit with his legs crossed at a meeting, exposing the bottom of one of his shoes. The exposed shoe sole has a hole in it. That’s a concept!
Template Web site services
Companies that offer template Web services are fine for businesses on a shoestring budget, but be advised, what you see is not necessarily what you get. These are “closed template” systems that do not offer much scalability in terms of customization. That means your Web site will have a cookie-cutter appearance that does little to help you stand out among your competitors. These Web sites are a breeding ground for bad design, especially when it comes to typography. Use of type styles by itself is one of the purist forms of design.
The reason for this is that many older monitors – frequently VGA monitors – have a maximum of 640×480 pixels that they will support. There area also many visitors to your website who have older video cards. This means that no matter how good their monitor and your website, they simply will not be able to handle higher resolutions. You will need to keep this in mind when you are creating a web design for a large target audience. After all, you will want the maximum number of people possible to be able to easily and clearly read and view your website.
So why is it that web designers continue to write for such large screen resolutions – such as 800×600 and 1024×768 when it means that they’ll be sending so many people away from their sites due to the inability to read them or being frustrated from having to scroll sideways all the time? Actually, there are quite a few reasons to explain this web design pattern. For one, there are likely quite a number of web designers who don’t even realize the issue that they are creating. Similarly, there are those web designers who don’t care that some people will not be able to enjoy their websites. Also, we must consider that some web masters have recognized that their target audience are typically equipped with high screen resolution capabilities, and therefore are simply catering to their desired market.
It is indeed hard to believe that there are some web designers out there who can call themselves professionals and not understand the way that the different technologies used by their viewers will be impacted by the web designs that they create. It is hard to believe that a supposed “expert” may not recognize that their web designs won’t look the same on every computer. Of course, web designers can’t always be blamed, since they often have the latest technologies to make their work more pleasant and professional. However, it is up to them to understand that the majority of the internet using world is not using state-of-the-art technologies. These web designers are only trying to put out the most impressive looking visuals for a website.
When it comes to those web designers who know that not everyone will be able to see their website properly, but they just don’t care are the most likely to lose the highest number of visitors. Any graphic larger than 600 by 620 pixels will definitely create a horizontal scroll bar for several website visitors. This is frustrating to visitors who have to scroll in order to read each line of text. Navigation also becomes a struggle because menus may become partially or entirely hidden as the rest of the content is viewed. Furthermore, if the viewer doesn’t realize that the horizontal scrollbar has appeared, they may simply assume that the site is not finished, that it has errors, or that there is nothing additional to see. If the webmaster simply doesn’t care, they’re turning away an awfully large number of people who could be potential clients, part of a potential network, or even contributors.
When the webmaster has recognized that the primary audience of the site has higher screen resolutions, it is quite natural to create a website design that caters to that resolution. While they will usually meet the standard, making certain that a viewer of 640×480 can still see the vital information on the site, the entire itself will have been optimized for their main target audience. This is an extremely professional way to function because it avoids creating problems of viewing the site no matter what the client, and it still gives the most accurate settings for the equipment used by the main visitors.
The design conventions for websites are simple, but they are effective. To follow these conventions, designers should ensure that their logos function as links to the home page; that clicking on a small image will display a larger version of that image; that all links lead to HTML documents unless they are clearly labeled as some other format (PDS, movie, etc.); that items are purchased by adding them to a virtual shopping cart and then taking them through a virtual checkout process. Website identity checks should always be accomplished through a system that relies on user names and passwords. These are just a few of the conventions. There are many others.
If a website does not follow these rules and conventions, visitors become annoyed, frustrated, and confused. People will leave a website in a heartbeat if it makes them work too hard to navigate it.