5 web design myths

Web design, like most things, is evolving at a lightening fast rate. What started out as a fairly simplistic system of tables, jpegs and text blocks has grown into a full scale graphic design platform with countless intricacies. Especially when you consider the recent surge in popularity for designer favorites, jquery and css3, it’s difficult to know where to begin . Taking all that into account it’s easy to get lost when designing a website, especially when you consider lots of the most commonly touted principles are in fact myths.

1. You must use every pixel.

There’s only so much space on the screen to make a statement with a web site, so in theory it makes sense that every bit of space should be used to the maximum. However, great designers know the importance of negative space and are never afraid to use it, in some cases, lot’s of it. Come on, this isn’t exactly a new thing in the world of design, the empty space between elements has been established as a key feature in the visual arts for hundreds of years. So don’t feel obliged to fill every little bit of space – give your designs room to breathe and they’ll be all the better for it.

2. Bigger is better.

Companies have a tendency to emphasize their logos on web pages, but remember that making a logo bigger doesn’t always make it better. While your corporate identity is important on your website, don’t allow it to over power your content. Spreading awareness for your brand is not particularly helpful if you don’t have great content to offer your visitors. The most commonly used technique is to place your logo in the top left-hand area of your page and it will be the first thing visitors see regardless of size. Look at some of the most popular sites, and pay attention to their use of logos.

3. You Only Have Three Seconds

In this current information age, everything is moving quicker. This leads to the often erroneous assumption that you have only a few precious seconds to capture a users attention before they clicks away from your page. Today’s web savvy users are a tad more patient than that. While you do want to engage the reader’s attention as fast as possible, your site should be created in such a way that it guides the visitors through the content, rather than bombarding them with information right from the start.

4. Good Design Means Complex Code

This one in particular is a a bit of a bug-bear for me. It’s easy to be convinced otherwise but let me make it clear, the best website is not always the most complicated one. While certain complex design features may lend a unique aesthetic feel to your pages, you don’t need huge strings of complex code to build a great website. Creative use of simple design principles can lead to beautifully laid out pages, whereas complicated code can often lead to jumbled aesthetics and a plethora of error messages. To put it simply, when you have more features in play, you have more things that can go wrong. My rule when it comes to design, both graphic and web is, simplicity is always better.

5. Design is Easy, Coding is Impossible

Web design has become something of a specialized field in the eyes of many people. They seem to think that the average web designer possesses some secret knowledge that no one else can possibly possess. On the contrary, web design requires two things. Designers need first, (and in my opinion most importantly) a keen eye for visual design, and second, knowledge of coding. That’s about it, no secrets or anything. Anyone can learn how to write valid code for websites if they study enough, but design sensibilities are the truly specialized skill. If you need a little help with your site, don’t be shy!

Domain Expiration: Don’t Let It Happen to You!

When you get a notice that your domain is about to expire, make sure you react, and react quickly.  There is nothing worse than having to let a client know that in their ignorance and lack of action that they have lost their domain name or will have to pay several hundred dollars to get it back if they can even get it back.

ICANN has rules on what happens when a domain name expires. However the charges to get it back are in part determined by your registrar. In several situations the client has ignorantly not responded to numerous notes from the registrar to renew their domain name. In some cases they felt that they were on auto renew, but did not realize that their credit card had expired that was on file with the registrar.

If you let your domain name expire, this is typically what will happen. First your registrar will give you a grace period, then they will repoint the domain to a parking page in some cases taking down your email and website. Sometimes they don’t do this, GoDaddy will hoping to get your attention. If you still don’t respond, then the registrar will take back and own your domain. You will have to pay sometimes several hundred dollars to get your domain back at this stage, but you really have no choice. If you still don’t respond, then anyone who had reserved your domain gets an opportunity to buy it. Finally the domain goes back on the open market.

I have seen some registrars automatically keep control of the domain for several months trying to get more money from you to return the domain to the original owner.

The bottom-line is that if you want the domain you should not let it expire. If you have, then sometimes the best action is to move to a new domain name. It simply may be too costly to get your domain back.

Routinely when I renew a domain I start 30 days out. Sometimes the client does not know the registrar and research needs to be done. Sometime the client does not even own the domain and work needs to be done to secure it first. DO NOT wait until the last minute to renew your domain, it is simply too crucial for your business!

Pros and Cons of Using Web Templates

There are many web hosts that offer free build your own website tools, so what are the pros and cons of using them?

When you would want to use a web template:

You do not want to pay a web designer or webmaster to create and update a website.

You are wanting to test out an idea or get on the Web as inexpensively as possible.

You plenty of time to create your website and consider it a labor of love and fun to learn and do.

When you would NOT want to use a website template:

You do not want your site to look like other websites.

You may want to move your website at some point. (A template site will not be transportable so your work and design cannot be moved.)

You do not have the time or artistic inclination to make the site look good.

You want to have your site place well on search engines. (Many template driven sites do not allow access to the source code to change meta tags.)

Flash is pretty but will not place well on search engines and you want good organic placement.

You do not want to be restricted by the template design, what if you want to put something where you want not where the template demands.

A professional webmaster will be doing your updates. Webmasters will want to work on your site quickly and not download software or learn an application in order to do a website update for you.

These are just a few of the things that you should consider when you think about using a website template. Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that some templates are better and nicer than others.

One of the biggest issues is that your sweat equity in your site is not transportable. Want to ever move to a new web host? Your site cannot come with you, the web host or template owner owns the images, page layout, and technology that makes it easy for you to update your website. From experience, this is the most important issue that many who are using templates forget!

Another comment, as a professional webmaster, we pass on updating and webmastering all template driven websites. It simply takes too long to work on websites of this nature and the constriction of the template for power users, such as us, is frustrating at best. So template sites are best for novices who are going to work on their own website as long as they have it.

Skills Required To Create A Website

Individuals and businesses, in particular smaller companies, often decide to create their own websites. The process is made easier with the help of software packages. There are, however, several other factors that should be taken into consideration. These factors include the level of skill and expertise in web technology required to create a functional, attractive web site, features the site will need to integrate and how much time is available to complete the project.

Choosing the right Software

To ensure that the creation of a website goes ahead as smoothly as possible, it is necessary to select the most suitable software package. Most hosting companies will offer a fairly comprehensive selection of software, applications and other helpful features a personal or business user can employ to add functionality and – if required – decorative aspects to their site. When selecting a host, it is therefore important to ensure that the necessary software, features and applications to achieve the site’s purpose are available. An individual wishing to sell products on their site, for example, has to make sure their host provides e-commerce applications, such as a shopping cart, access to a database and payment options.

Necessary Design Skills

Even when using some of the available design software, a person building a website must have some basic knowledge of HTML. A certain artistic flair, agreeable taste and an eye for color are also necessary. In order to produce stunning graphics and crisp, optimized photos that will load quickly, the designer will also have to have some experience in using graphic software. Another key skill is the understanding of how to develop and implement functional site navigation. For interactive pages or integration with online databases, the designer will need some JavaScript, CGI and/ or database programming skills. Marketing and business aspects are equally fundamental design considerations requiring experience.

Alternative Options

If there is an individual with all of these skills available within a business, and resources allow for this person to be tied up for the time it will take to build the site, there is nothing stopping the company from creating their own site. Without these skills and the necessary time resources, however, creating the site could prove to be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Valuable time may be wasted on a site that will not perform to perfection and will fail to achieve its purpose. In a situation like this, it is advisable to take the plunge and hire a professional service to do the job. This may cost a little more in the short term, but can in the long run save a lot of time, effort and money, thereby certainly making it worth considering.

If time permits it, it is of course possible to learn some of the skills necessary. There are many websites offering tutorials and informative articles, videos, etc, to show how certain aspects of creating a website can be performed and/ or made easier. Consulting these sites will assist in creating an attractive, functional website without having to resort to getting professional assistance.

A Brief Introduction To Seo

Whenever people are talking about the design of websites, the term SEO will come into the conversation sooner or later. So what is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which basically serves to make it easy for a search engines to find a website. To understand how it works, it is necessary to understand how search engines locate websites to begin with.

Basic Search Engine Function

Search engines are not manned by humans, but use software known as crawlers, bots or spiders to ‘crawl’ the Web. This is purely text driven, meaning the crawler will pick up on specific words or phrases, known as keywords, or key phrases. These keywords or phrases are indexed, processed, calculated with respect to relevancy and retrieved. The more relevant a keyword is to a search term, the more likely it is to be retrieved and result in the website being shown high up in the search results.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO involves using specific, relevant keywords within titles, articles and blogs to make a website more visible to search engines. For instance, if an Internet user was to type the words ‘motorbike engines’ into their search panel, the engine will then look for all sites that contain these words or closely related words, such as bike, engine, bike engine, and so on. As a rule, keywords are placed into texts at percentages of one to two per cent. Keyword density above this percentage can be regarded as stuffing and is considered to be bad practice.

Finding Relevant Keywords

The more relevant keywords are, the more likely they are to be picked up by search engines. It is therefore necessary to find the best possible variations of a term or phrase to use. This is made easier by keyword finding tools. One such tool, for instance, is offered by Google AdWords. Here, the user enters a proposed keyword or phrase, and the tool will provide a list of relevant variations. As well as listing these variations, the tool will also show how often the word is being entered as a search word and how many competitors are already using it on their sites. Other tools of this kind work in a similar way.

How to use Keywords

The fact that keywords have to be included within a websites content at a particular density to be effective without being seen as an attempt to fool search engines has already been mentioned above. It is, however, equally important to ensure that these words are blended well into the surrounding text, as the crawlers will take the surrounding words into consideration as well. In other words, it is vital for keywords to flow naturally with the text, as opposed to being placed randomly and out of context.

Used well, SEO will serve to increase relevant traffic to a website. In other words, by carefully considering the implemented SEO techniques and choosing keywords suitable to the overall purpose and content of a site, the targeted audience can be reached with greater success.

The Basics Of Landing Pages

Potential website owners will hear a lot about landing pages and how important they are to a website. So what is it that makes it so very different from all other pages of a website? More to the point, what exactly is a landing page?

The basic Definition Essentially, this is the first thing a visitor will see after following a link from another website. As such, it should provide all the information the visitor wants to see. Let’s face it, the visitor has followed the link to this page for a reason, and the first impression they get must show them that they have indeed come to exactly the right place for what they need. As a rule, a well laid-out, informative welcoming page will provide far better conversion rates than dumping a visitor straight into a home page and expecting them to try and find their way to the information they are after from there.

Considering the Content

This vital page of a website should match the promise made by the link the visitor has clicked on to get there. In other words, if the link has promised that the visitor can find information on and will be able to purchase a specific product or service, then that is exactly what he/ she should find here. In short, it should contain all necessary information on a product or service, including images, details on how or when to use the product/ service and price information, as well as -if possible – help files and/ or an FAQ section. Including evidence of relevant research and reviews will show that the site owner knows their stuff and will inspire confidence in visitors. Contact information should naturally also be readily available.

When to use Landing Pages

Targeted initial pages should be created whenever the website owner has some sort of control over where the visitors will come from and the purpose of the page is to achieve a specific goal, such as a sale, sign-up or registration, for example. They are particularly useful when the site owner is paying for the traffic they receive. This may be through pay-per-click campaigns, affiliate marketing agreements, banner ads or other sponsored links. Naturally, when paying for traffic, it is vital to monitor the success of the landing page to avoid paying out more than the page is bringing in. If the page is not succeeding in converting visitors into customers, it will have to be reviewed to avoid costs spiraling out of control.

Essentially, these pages will determine the degree of success a website achieves. It is consequently vital to ensure that it provides every bit of information visitors may wish to see, in order to convert them into customers, without over-loading it so much that visitors are unable to find anything and go elsewhere. The balance has to be right, and it is of equal importance to ensure that the page keeps what the initial link has promised, or visitors will be lost very quickly.

Dos And Don’ts Of Web Design

Designing a website can be a minefield. It is easy to make mistakes that will ultimately lead to failure in achieving the site’s desired purpose. Here are some dos and don’ts that will help to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Do provide relevant, compelling Content

Although this is not actually a design element, content is even more important than the design of a site, which is why this tip has to be included here. There is no point in having a gorgeous looking website if it is meaningless and has nothing of value to offer. Essentially, content must be rich in information, making it worth a visit. If advertising is part of the ways to make a profit on the site, it should not take up more than 25 per cent of the content. Any more than this and the site will be like a TV channel with nothing but adverts – visitors will switch it off.

Don’t use sleazy Elements

Scrolling and/ or blinking text, animations and auto-loaded sound will not only slow the loading of a website significantly, they can also be intensely annoying and distracting to visitors. The same goes for pop-ups. Background images also tend to make a website look garish, as well as slowing load times. Visitors want the information they are looking for, not gimmicks.

Do make things easy to Find

It is of utmost importance to ensure that visitors can find what they are looking for with ease. This means the website needs to be well organized, as well as using the minimum of necessary clicks possible. Having to click on multiple links to get to the info they are seeking is enough to put visitors off, as is having to scroll down reams and reams of text. Each page should contain no more than two screens of information, or up to six or a maximum of seven screens for long articles. Links to the top of pages and a home page link should also be included on all pages.

Don’t bog down the Website

Images need to be sized down to ensure they will not take excessively long to load into the visitor’s browser. There is a wealth of graphics software out there to do this efficiently, without compromising the quality of images. As mentioned above, avoiding auto sounds and animations will also greatly improve load times. The main point to remember is that visitors do not like to wait for ages, just to see some flashy image rushing across their screen.

Do consider Readability

To keep a website readable and improve the visitor’s experience, text lines should be no more than 650 pixels in width. Anything wider than that will make it hard to read, as will fonts that are too small or too fancy. Placing the text onto a textured background may also make it hard to read. Ideally, text should always be placed onto a plain background, with the font being in a color that is contrasting enough to be seen clearly.

Finally, it is wise to be sparing and considerate with links. Too many of them will confuse the visitor, and links to questionable sites will damage reputation. All necessary links should be explained, so visitors will know where they are heading when clicking on them. Again, home links should be provided so visitors can get back to where they started easily.

Why a Web Presence Is So Important

A website is more than just “advertising”

Many people incorrectly view a website as just more advertising. They see the initial cost and have “sticker shock.” We want to help you understand what a website truly is virtual real estate.

The Internet is the new Yellow Pages, plus so much more. In the not so distant past, the average consumer would pull out the Yellow Pages to look up the name and number of a physician’s practice. However, this has been replaced by the internet and search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Why has this shift taken place?

Ease of Use

Thumbing through dozens of paper pages, only to find a phone number or a single ad with limited information, does very little to truly advertise what your practice has to offer. In addition, your competition is listed next to your ad.

Availability

The Yellow Pages cannot be used if there is no phone book available. Computers are found in nearly home and office. In addition, cell phones such as Iphones, Blackberries, and the new Google Droid phones all contain web-browsing functions. Access to the internet is now everywhere, affordable, and easily accessible.

More Information about web design

Even a full page Yellow Pages ad can only offer limited information, not to mention the monthly cost associated with this type of listing placement. They are not interactive and are confined by the space and size of the page. In contrast, a specialized website can offer endless amounts of information that can be updated in real-time, not just on a yearly basis. Pictures, biographies, medical conditions, patient documents, and even videos are at your patient’s fingertips thanks to quality-built website and the internet.

Exclusivity

When your website appears near the top of a search engine’s ‘results list’ and the consumer clicks on your site, they are in your hands. There are no competitor’s ads to draw potential patients away from your site. Therefore, a well designed and informative website is of the utmost importance. You control the content.

Analytics

An effective Google Ad

Words campaign not only further drives more business to your site, but allows you to analyze who is coming to your site and what keywords they are using to find you. This allows you to further fine tune your website and Goiogle AdWords campaign.

Cost

The internet is a tangible piece of real estate. By using Yellow Pages, you are simply a renter. Look at how much you are paying every month for your Yellow Pages advertising. You may be able to cut the size and cost of your ad by 50% and invest the difference on a customized website that will pay for itself in the first year. When you have your own website, you become an owner of a very valuable piece of cyber real-estate. When you stop paying the Yellow Pages, all of that data and investment disappears. With a website, the property will always be present on the web. What may seem a high price for initial investment, we ask you to compare the cost averaged over the life of your practice. The bottom line is that you own the website indefinitely.

How to Select the Most Effective Domain Name for Your Real Estate Website

Selecting a domain name for your real estate site can be very tricky. It is important to avoid confusion by deciding early on, before you even start the search, what you really want in a domain name. This article will guide you in doing this.

In the real estate business, it is even more important to have a domain name that people can easily remember. There are several reasons for this. To start with many times your clients will come across your name when they do not require your services just then. Although this is a very difficult thing to achieve, it will be useful if they can remember your name much later when they do need your services.

Then the other reason is the fact that you need an easy-to-remember name so that you enhance word-of-mouth advertising on your site and its’ offerings. Even in this information age, word-of-mouth is still the most powerful marketing weapon for any business. The first option you should go for is a dot.com address which will also be the most difficult to find your ideal address in since it is already so crowded. This means that you may have to settle for a dot.net address which is not as effective but is a distant second choice. However, chances are high that you will have no alternative but to end up settling on a dot.net address. Unless of course you are extremely creative and lucky to come up with a name that nobody in the whole world has thought of yet.

Because of the previous reasons given, it will help if the name is as short as possible, easy to spell and probably also pronounce.

Then you will also need to consider keywords and the search engines. What are the most popular keywords used by your potential clients? This is invaluable information to have even as you consider what domain name to take up.

You will need to carefully weigh all these factors before you come to a decision on what your domain name should be. If everything else fails, do consider using your own name. It is bound to be easier to remember and chances are high that nobody else with a similar name has registered a domain yet.

Do remember that this is an extremely important aspect in setting up your online business and you should spare enough time for deep though and contemplation on it. It is not the sort of thing you should just rush through, as this could give you plenty of regrets later.

Ecommerce Web Design

An ecommerce website is like a store online and it consists of more than just a brochure or catalogue type design.  Just as in a retail store it is important that your merchandise is displayed in a way that is appealing to your customers.  An ecommerce website is no different – presentation is vital.  Your ecommerce site is an important part of your internet marketing strategy.  It’s all about getting new customers and increasing your business’ potential as well as selling your products and services.

More and more businesses are using the Internet as a means of selling their goods and services and more clients and customers are expecting to be able to do business online effectively and efficiently.  They expect to be able to find your business online and they expect to be able to interact with you online.  An ecommerce web site design allows you to be there for your clients 24 hours a day.  No matter when a potential client is shopping for your goods and services your ecommerce site will allow your business to step up to the plate and respond giving a great first impression of your business. There is a lot more to an ecommerce website than just a shopping cart and payment processor.  It is essential that an ecommerce web site design have a professional look and that it be organized and easy to navigate.  If a website visitor isn’t able to easily navigate the site and find what they are looking for then they are likely to leave the site and not return.  Product and service information needs to be clearly explained in a detailed easy to understand way.

Potential buyers need to understand what it is that they are buying or paying for.  Payment information and shopping carts as well as shipping information needs to be integrated into the design in a way that will attract customers.  Uncluttered simple designs are best for ecommerce web sites. A web design company with experience in ecommerce web design will be able to work with you to revamp your current site or create a while new web site design that will help your business meet its ecommerce goals.