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shotgun_ninja
05-13-2008, 02:20 AM
Okay. I have seen many, many poorly designed web sites. I have taken college courses on efficient web design. And I am yet again appalled by the either overuse or misuse of animation and images.

Here's some advice for web designers:

1. Base your designs on both the goals of the site owner (or yourself, if you own the site you are designing) and of the intended audience.

2. Don't add something simply because it is cool or new. New technology is just asking for trouble; this site wouldn't exist if people didn't constantly break this rule by breaking their site.

3. PLEASE Don't use Flash controls for your site. I love Flash, it is a great programmer's tool; but let's leave it at that. The thing is, Flash takes too ungodly long to load. It's such a huge turn-off to open a webpage and see "Loading..." or "Buffering..."

4. Please stick to conventions. Search bars don't need a quirky or funny slogan in them. Just an empty bar and a button labeled "Search". The shopping cart should be a shopping cart, and the site logo should link to the homepage.

5. Yahoo is NOT A GOOD DESIGN. It is cluttered, busy, and hard to find anything.

6. Please don't use Google Ads, or any other type of ad system. I hate all those ads for "Free Hot Singles!" or "You've Won $1,000,000,000!" or "Find Your Class - Graduates.com" (which I'm sure is legit, but is still annoying as all get-out).

7. The home page is for a BRIEF description of the page.

8. Make sure your navigation is neat, ordered by importance of link, and not cluttered or hard to understand.

9. Have users who are not pre-informed on the site's design test your site. Record their vagaries and questions about what the links and labels mean, and watch for things which draw their eyes (and mouse) away from what you want to be the most important element of the page. Believe me, it helps.

10. Have breadcrumbs, a site map, or some other simple, out of the way site layout table to give users a path to the places they've already visited, or the current and previous levels of navigation.

11. Stick to conventions. No, seriously. Don't be an idiot. Just do it.

12. Use decent, non-contrasting colors, and don't use those annoying, multicolored flashy buttons, or links that change sizes.

13. Get a good, solid storyboard (you can do it in MS Word, OpenOffice.org Writer, or other comparable program) drawn/written out, and go over it a few times with your owner (or yourself) before you even start coding your site. It's like taking a road trip. If you don't have a map that you know how to use, your options are to buy a GPS or risk missing the signs. Not worth it.

14. If you have to think about how it's used, or if the thought even SLIGHTLY enters your mind, then redesign it. Make it as mindlessly easy to use as humanly possible. It works.

15. Remember that what will work in Microsoft Internet Explorer may not work for Apple's Safari, or Mozilla Firefox, or Opera. There are resources on this site for making your website browser-compatible. Use them.

16. Look at other sites similar in purpose to the one you are designing. Highlight (or make a list of) things you liked, things you didn't like, etc. It will help you narrow down what to include on your site.

17. Use lists. Lists, lists, and more lists. They were invented for storing information, use them the way they were made to be used. Heck, you can use this list as a checklist of decisions. Please do. Your website may turn out better than it would have originally.

Stick to these steps, and your website will be a winner!

NOTE: Also, to the other designers, feel free to post additional tips on here. Thanks!

Medyman
05-13-2008, 02:39 AM
Design is subjective. What you find annoying might be someone else's idea of beauty. I agree with you that there are some really ugly websites out there -- I'd even go so far as to say that a majority of the websites on the net are absolutely hideous (in my opinion). But it's just that...my opinion.

Some of the points you make (ads, search bars, etc...) could have been left out. As that's a reflection on your taste not really successful web design. The fact is that those are things that are important in a lot of situations and, design apart, serve a very functional and necessary purpose.

I do wholeheartedly agree with you on the planning/testing bits. Very important and very overlooked! Anyone getting paid to do a website (or even if you're not) should rigoursly put your website through tests in various browsers/settings -- flash/no flash, javascript/no javascript, IE6, IE7, Safari, Fx, Opera, Mac, PC, mobile devices, different resolutions etc.. etc.. Can't emphasize this enough. The advice I always give to people is focus on the planning (the start) and the testing (the end). The middle, if you've done the first part well enough will be a breeze.

P.S. This could probably be moved to the lounge

andres
05-27-2008, 08:20 PM
You both have very valid points, however without those ugly annoying ads many websites would not be able to stay alive, nor would many websites who offer free services be able to make a profit.

If you are designing for a client, you will often times have to do MANY things you find repulsive and counter-productive, however they are paying you, and they are the ones who want it.

While new technology may be "faulty" at times, it is often a nice money maker. People want a developer who can do the latest in AJAX, Google Maps, and all the hot new trends.

Planning is important, however depending on the scale and complexity of your site, it is often not required. Lots of coders work well by just digging in- however this does not mean your applications should not be properly tested and debugged.

I agree with a lot of what shotgun_ninja said regarding a personal site, but you cannot control what the client wants.

boogyman
05-27-2008, 09:01 PM
you dont necessarily need to "control" what they want, however as the professional, you can offer suggestions about how to utilize their ideas in a manner that would not be detrimental to the website, maybe by reducing the "ad" or by placing it on the left instead of the left, stressing that it is human nature to scroll left -> right and viewing an "ad" first would not be as enticing as YOUR product...

while the client does have the last say, the developer can have a HUGE say in the actual design because the developer should know what works, what doesn't, and what is just bologna

MillerD08
06-04-2008, 11:26 PM
New technology is just asking for trouble;

Say what? Explain please.

Medyman
06-05-2008, 01:26 AM
you don't necessarily need to "control" what they want, however as the professional, you can offer suggestions about how to utilize their ideas in a manner that would not be detrimental to the website, maybe by reducing the "ad" or by placing it on the left instead of the left, stressing that it is human nature to scroll left -> right and viewing an "ad" first would not be as enticing as YOUR product...

while the client does have the last say, the developer can have a HUGE say in the actual design because the developer should know what works, what doesn't, and what is just bologna

Well said boogyman! I totally agree. A lot of designers/developers don't understand this -- particularly freelancers.

Yes, it's important to give the client a product that they're satisfied with. But you're selling your expertise in web design/programming! When some web designers explain away horrible elements in their design/functionality with a simple "the client wanted it", I find that to be a total cop out. I think it's incumbent upon the designer/developer to explain to the client why what they want is a bad idea. Almost all of the time, the client will agree.

There are the stubborn few that you have to end up succumbing to because arguing with them would accomplish nothing. But I've never encountered such a client in my career. I've had some fairly stubborn ones but they've come around.

As far as ads go, they're a part of business. You don't necessarily have to use those hideous Google Ads. And even if you do, they can be done tastefully. For the personal site, it might not make sense. But for some commercial projects, ads are a very important part of their business model. Creating websites is just as much about function as it is about form.

But, as boogyman said, you can design it into the page so it doesn't look like a sore thumb. If the client objects, there is a compromise to be had based on the premise that you, as the designer, know better.

Just yesterday I met with a new client. He has a moderately successful print magazine and as it grows, he wants his website to become more feature rich. So, he came to us wanting a re-design. Now, we hadn't designed the first site but it was fairly well done. It was full Flash but fairly tasteful. So, in our meeting he kept repeating that he wanted MORE FLASH. Now, how you get more Flash than a full Flash website is beyond me! Even though I don't think Flash is evil like some, I still don't condone full Flash websites (in most cases). We talked about SEO benefits of a non-flash site and how most of the effects that he wanted would take away from the user experience and how we could build a robust and attractive website without the need for all those distractions.

At the end of the meeting, he was 100% behind a HTML/CSS design. Now, that's entirely because we establish ourselves as experts in web design. That entire "the customer is always right" mentality does not apply. And designers/developers that don't understand this end up compromising their standards, which doesn't have to happen.

Of course, all of this has to be done with tact. But stand up for the things that you don't agree with and you'll end up with a better product.