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    12 Replies Latest reply on Feb 8, 2009 11:25 PM by pdmiller

    Question to the Web Designers and Developers

    CorpCons08 Ranger
      I am currently working on rebuilding our website from the ground up.
      What are some of the biggest mistakes novice web designers make, and what should I watch out for while doing this project?

      CC08
        • Re: Question to the Web Designers and Developers
          NatOnline Tracker
          Ask Biz Online (Cliff) he is web designer/SEO, and will provide some good tips.
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Question to the Web Designers and Developers
            Biz Online Adventurer
            Hi CorpsCon08 (Daniel),
            What mistakes to avoid when starting a rebuild of a website? Boy, that's a wide open question! Here's the 50,000 foot view (the broadest mistakes typically made):

            1. Not using CSS to layout the page. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allow you to "move" all of your styling elements off of the webpage itself. This allows your HTML code to be very clean, and incredibly light, which makes it easier/quicker for a search engine bot to read your pages. PLUS, when you want to change a font, font size, color, or page layout, it can be done globally to your whole website, instead of manually making changes to each individual page - which can take hours or even days. There are FREE website templates available online with pure, clean coded CSS.

            2. Trying to create something different! Basically, websites targeted toward business usually are 2 or 3 column websites. Don't try to break the mold on a new design when business users are used to seeing a standard layout.

            3. Massive header! You do not need a huge header at the top of your web page! Think of a web page as real estate, and the most important real estate is ABOVE THE FOLD (the part of the page you see in your browser before you have to scroll down). You have 5 seconds to get the visitors' interest, so make the best use of this all important real estate!!!

            4. Know your colors! Colors are very important, especially for websites. What does IBM, Dell, and Microsoft have in common? Blue! Blue is a color of trust. Do a search on business consulting, look at other sites, and choose a color pallete. Then send the color pallette to 10 of your friends before deciding. You'll get the picture real quick!

            Let me know if you need specific questions answered.
            Good luck!
            Cliff
              • Re: Question to the Web Designers and Developers
                CorpCons08 Ranger
                Cliff,

                Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to me.
                I really do appreciate all of the information you were able to send.
                I have looked through templates and have a general idea of CSS.
                I am attempting to build the layout in Photoshop (PSD) and then code the HTML from there. (is this wrong?)

                I hope that you are having a wonderful start to your weekend,

                CC08
                  • Re: Question to the Web Designers and Developers
                    Biz Online Adventurer
                    Building a graphical layout in Photoshop is fine to get a fast idea on what you want visually. However, I've learned that if you know what your layout is going to be beforehand (which is called a wireframe), then it really speeds up the process.

                    Since you have a general idea about CSS, it probably will save you a great deal of time by:

                    1. find a template that you like that is pure CSS layout (don't worry about colors, you can change those. Just look at the "wire frame" layout)

                    2. use Photoshop to do a color scheme, keeping in mind the template from step 1

                    3. adapt your photoshop color scheme to the template

                    If you were a master at CSS layouts, you could do the photoshop layout, then make your own original CSS layout. My recommendation steps 1-3 is based on your limited exposure to CSS. Do the free template route first, and as your CSS skills increase, this can be later to build your own site from the ground up.

                    Note: Over the years, most of us learn that if we focus on how we create REVENUE, as opposed to getting bogged down by the DETAILS, you find that any tools that you can use (like free CSS templates) are a wonderful thing. I spent many a night on my first website, trying to have perfect layout and perfect HTML code. Oh my, if I could have all that time back to focus on customer acquisition!

                    On a side note, I was contacted and interviewed by Lowes Home Improvement about websites for contractors, particularly focusing on what specifically should a basic website include. When the article is released, I'll post the link.

                    Best of luck!
                    Cliff
                • Re: Question to the Web Designers and Developers
                  Campbell Wayfarer
                  I'm not going to put any numbers on these as I'm writing them as they come to me, and Charlie Rose is a bit loud in the background... so if I run off, forgive me.

                  I don't believe there are individual mistakes that are made by novices as there as there is a lack of skill. Many so called experts (even some on this website) don't have work at the same level they write about, and by my standards I'm going to say that you're not a novice web designer as your are a business owner attempting to do website design. There's a difference in semantics, but not much more in my opinion so I don't believe that me saying that is either an attack or an insult.

                  Here's my point, many people on here spout off the same tips in different order or at different times which seems fine to the novice, but I'm not impressed. So, I'm going to attempt to give you my idea of what's wrong with the "novice" and their work.

                  • They lack the skills to work on a world class standard. Many small business owners argue that they don't need a web presence of a fortune 100, but I really think that they're just shying away from the real issue. They're making an excuse for not striving for the best.
                  • They lack the experience to work through certain situations using their past mistakes and successes as guides to work faster and smarter.
                  • They don't use the most popular and most successful websites (i.e. Facebook, Digg, etc...) as models for their websites, as architects look to the past for inspiration designers should look to the current for guidance.
                  • They care too much about looking good and not enough about funcitionality.
                  • They don't focus enough on copywriting.
                  • They don't understand that marketing is far more important than design. Instead of trying to appear as "friendly to the customer" they need to become memorable and distinguishable.
                  I think the problem lies in philosophy and experience, I don't think there's a checklist of things that experience clips off over the years. 1 year or 30 years if you're good, you're good.

                  -Campbell
                  http://www.campbelltechnologygroup.com/
                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Question to the Web Designers and Developers
                      Biz Online Adventurer
                      I agree with Campbell and his input. It's important to separate the novice, the small business owner, and the website designer who understands marketing.

                      Since this forum is about small businesses, and some are "micro" businesses (less than $50k in revenue), offering free advice is the core component of a forum. Many of these micro businesses simply don't have the profits to spend $8 to $10k for a professional web development company. So if we can offer tips to save them money, to me that is one of the purposes of this website.

                      With my business, most of my income is driven by online advertising management and search engine optimization. Businesses contact me mostly through referrals from other businesses I'm doing business with.

                      FYI: Cambell - There are no H1 or H3 tags on your home page, as well as regular on-page optimization. This would help with your SEO efforts.

                      Best of luck!
                      Cliff
                      • Re: Question to the Web Designers and Developers
                        CorpCons08 Ranger
                        Campbell,

                        Although I do not agree completely with your philosophy on novices and small business owners, I do appreciate the response. I am taking many of the items you posted into consideration. I have taken time to look through your portfolio, and you do very nice work. I will speak about your group at our board meeting next week and if we decide to hire a designer, you are on the list. Thank you for your time.

                        CC08
                      • Re: Question to the Web Designers and Developers
                        pdmiller Adventurer

                        Another thing to consider which I don't believe has been mentioned yet is to check your website in different browsers. Many people design a website and only check it in the browser they use. There are many browsers out there and they don't all view the web pages the same. I'd make sure to check it in at least IE, Safari and Firefox. There are many others like AOL, Opera, etc. but they are not as dominant as the top three.

                        Hope that helps. Good luck!

                         


                        Patty Miller, owner

                         

                        Affordable Web Design and Graphic Solutions

                         

                        www.awdgs.com