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Custom Website Design » Graphics
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Custom Website Design

June 1, 2007

Top 10 Biggest Web Design Mistakes

Filed under: Design, Graphics — BILZ @ 12:13 am

In the world of web design, there are plenty of mistakes you can make, and in this article, I’m going to look at what I believe to be the top 10 biggest. You need to check your site for these mistakes right now, and fix them if they’re there – otherwise you’re going to be annoying your visitors and driving them away from your site.

1. Unclear Layout and Navigation. Many websites, especially business sites, seem to suffer from some kind of disease where even the very simplest task takes ten steps to achieve. If people are emailing you to ask you how to do things on your site, then you need to improve your layout and navigation. Remember: if there are certain tasks people seem to want to do more often, put them on the front page.

2. Plugin Overload. You’ve got to keep media that uses plugins to a strict maximum of one per page: that means that if you’ve got Flash, then you can’t have a media player, or if you’re using Java then you can’t have Flash. It’s not as bad to use the same plugin twice, however.

3. Unclear Linking. You might think it looks better to only show links when people put their mouse over them, or not make their colour stand out too much from the rest of the text, but it’s not – while it might make the design look nicer, it makes it far less usable. Use a clearly contrasting colour for links, and preferably underline them.

4. Too Many Ads. When you’re trying to make money from your website, it’s all too easy to try to fit in more ads than you really should, or start using ad formats that are too intrusive. If you’ve put a new ad on your site, go to the site as if you were a visitor, and ask yourself honestly: is this just too much?

5. Strange Fonts. Stick to the most common web fonts: that’s pretty much just Arial, Georgia, Tahoma and Verdana. If you’re using more obscure fonts, then most visitors probably won’t have them – and the ones that do will find your text hard to read. The only time you should use non-standard fonts is in your logo or in headings, if they are displayed as an image.

6. Flash Intros. Please, don’t use a Flash intro on your website. You’d think everyone would realise they’re a bad idea by now, but every web designer still gets clients who just don’t seem to realise that Flash intros are universally mocked and hated. Don’t be one of those people.

7. Unlabelled Email Links. It’s a very bad idea to ever use a link that will send email (a mailto link) without clearly marking it with the word ‘email’. If you just make clicking people’s names send email, you’ll annoy visitors who just clicked wanting to find out more about the person.

8. Broken Links. You’ve got to check all your links regularly to make sure that they all still work. There’s nothing worse than finding a site that looks useful, only to find that it hasn’t been updated in years and none of the links work any more. Yes, a website does mostly run itself after a while, but that doesn’t mean that you should neglect the essential maintenance it needs from time to time.

9. No Marking for External Links. There are two kinds of links: internal (to other parts of your website) and external (to other websites). For the benefit of your visitors, though, it’s best if you mark external links, either by making them a different colour or using some kind of a symbol (a box with an arrow is the usual one). It’s also good to make the external links open in new windows, so people aren’t leaving your site altogether when they click them.

10. Badly-sized Text. It’s important to keep your text around the standard size (preferably just below). Making text too big or too small makes it hard to read and annoying for many visitors. The best thing you can do is use relative text sizing (not pixels) that allows the browser to respect the user’s preferred text size. You might also consider offering buttons on your site to decrease or increase the size.

May 31, 2007

Getting Free Banner Design

Filed under: Design, Graphics, Traffic — BILZ @ 6:25 pm

Getting stuff for free is often more complicated than it looks, but if you are clever you can get free banner designs or other valuable online marketing tools. Although in most cases, the quality of a free banner design will be modest, you can also get nice looking banners for absolutely no cost. How? There are different ways in which you can achieve this:

Freelance designers - many freelance designers who are just starting out are looking to build their portfolio, so getting a free banner design from them is not impossible. For a freelancer, the online portfolio is the maker or breaker of his business, so he or she will often offer to work for free. The problem with asking for a free banner design from a freelancer is that you cannot have any saying as far as the quality is concerned and you won’t really have the power to request revisions and changes to the banner ads. Anyone relatively skilled in a graphic design software, such as Adobe’s Photoshop , can create a free banner ad - or a cheap banner, but you can also try it yourself, if you are on a small budget.

Graphic design company promotions - many graphic design company managers know that, in order to win money online and build a reputable image, you need to lure in clients by offering them things for free. Once in a while, advertising agencies and design studios will have special promotions, when skilled designers offer you a free banner design - most of the times high quality ones. By doing that, they hope you will appreciate their business and come back with future, paid jobs.

Free graphic design templates - free banner design templates are quite common online. You simply have to download the source file - most of the times an Adobe Photoshop PSD file and modify the text in a design software program.

The advantage of this solution is that you can choose from various layouts, designs and color palettes and you can personalize your banner as you wish. The downsize is that you need a graphic design title like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro and some editing skills in order to modify the banner ad. Of course, the satisfaction that you get when you design a banner ad for free is also worth taking into consideration!

Banner sizes and custom advertising banner ad costs

There are different globally accepted banner size standards. These will often determine the cost of the custom advertising banner, but some companies offer a flat rate for any banner size. In most cases, however, advertisers will ask for more than just one banner size, but with all the custom banners following the same line and keeping with a unique color palette. Here are the most common custom advertising banner sizes you will find on the online market:

Banners and Buttons

468 x 60 - Full Banner
234 x 60 - Half Banner
88 x 31 - Micro Bar
120 x 90 - Button 1
120 x 60 - Button 2
120 x 240 - Vertical Banner
125 x 125 - Square Button
728 x 90 - Leaderboard

Rectangles and Pop-Ups

300 x 250 - Medium Rectangle
250 x 250 - Square Pop-Up
240 x 400 - Vertical Rectangle
336 x 280 - Large Rectangle
180 x 150 - Rectangle

Skyscrapers

160 x 600 - Wide Skyscraper
120 x 600 - Skyscraper
300 x 600 - Half Page Ad

10 Tips When Choosing a Web Designer

Filed under: Design, Graphics — BILZ @ 6:24 pm

With the importance of the internet now long beyond debate, it has become imperative to have a strong web presence. One of the best ways of achieving this is through a well branded, professional and user friendly website that will help you to connect with and relate to your present and prospective customers.

Once you have realised your need for a website, the next step is to hire a professional web designer or web developer who possesses the expertise to translate your requirements into an information rich website, leaving you to concentrate on what you do best!

Hiring the right web designer can be a daunting task for those of us who lack the essential insights on what to look for in a good web designer.

Here are some tips that will help you in choosing the right Web Designer / Design Company:

1. Ensure That Your Site Has Quantifiable Goals

It is good practice to spend some time in planning and defining your website’s goals. Having clear and quantifiable goals for your website will help you in highlighting what you want your website to do and what is needed to get it done.

2. Purchase Your Own Domain Name

One of the smartest things you can do is to purchase your website domain name yourself as opposed to getting it done through the web designer. By purchasing your own domain name, you can make sure that you have complete control over your website. Web designers may come and go but the domain control will be yours.

3. Ask For Customer References

While you are in the process of choosing a Web Design Company, ask them for customer references, preferably with numbers you can call. Talking to past customers will help in knowing more about the designers, their expertise, style of working and respect for deadlines.

4. Establish Their Track Record

Building a good website is not a one time affair. To get real value from your website, it must be updated regularly. Hence, it pays to make sure that you can trust your web designer and make sure that they will still be in business years from now.

5. Check Their Designs

A good way to judge a web designer is by looking at websites they have designed recently and seeing if they are in a style you like. Pay attention to factors such as usability, navigation, layout and their potential to be found on the internet.

6. Meet Them At Their Offices

Before making a final decision on the web designer you choose to hire, meet them at their place of work. This will help you to know more about their setup, professionalism and style of doing business.

7. Pay For An Original Design

Never pay a web designer for a template. Not only will search engines penalise you for having non original content but you will have lost the chance to have a unique site developed that truly fits your requirements.

8. Check To See If The Designer Develops SEO Friendly Code & Uses CSS

Simply creating a pretty website is not enough in the midst of so much competition. Good designers understand that for a website to do well, it must be Search Engine Friendly (SEO) and should be designed using CSS instead of tables.

9. Site Should Confirm to Current Legislation

Make sure your website conforms to the current legislation. In the UK this includes the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Data Protection Act, the EU Freedom of Information Initiative and the Companies Act 2007.

10. Develop a Marketing Plan

Your web presence is incomplete without a comprehensive SEO and online marketing plan. Remember, your site won’t sell itself!

Use Of Graphic Design To Increase Website Useability

Filed under: Design, Graphics, Useability — BILZ @ 6:18 pm

There can be no argument about the importance of design in attracting Internet users to a particular web site. No one would bother to explore the contents of a site if it does not contain eye-catching graphics that can please the visual sense of the users. With so many kinds of web sites existing online, it is extremely challenging to attract users and keep them interested in the site.

But a web site developer does not simply apply graphics freely on a site. Graphics should be used in the correct manner, or else, users might get turned off because the graphics featured just overwhelmed or confused them.

While it is true that attractive design is important for reasons that need not be explained, the choice of design must be carefully considered against the fulfilling the needs of users. When done successfully, it could be safely said that the web site has achieved its goals.

Graphics used in the Internet is inextricably linked to multimedia. Multimedia is a combination of graphics, text, sound, and animation to express a message to users. The multimedia features that will be incorporated to a web site should be dependent on the content. In general, multimedia and graphics should serve as supports to content, and should have precise, instructional purpose.

According to research, animated images can facilitate the transfer of learning in a positive way if it is utilized to show a vital part of the concept that is being illustrated. On the other hand, animation can serve as a barrier to user recall and performance.

Here are the guidelines in incorporating graphics to web sites:

1. Justify the usage of the graphics
The most obvious problem that can be seen on web pages is the over-usage of graphics. The main downside of this is that complicated, unnecessary graphics can take a long time to download, and this, of course, will not sit well with users. The graphics to be applied should support the transfer of data and should also be in relation to the accompanying text.

2. The difference between graphics with text-redundant data and those containing information that is non-redundant is that the former facilitates and ushers in the learning process, while the latter does not either help or slow down learning.

3. Consistency should be a priority in graphic design

4. Web pages should be marked up so that text will be downloaded before the graphics. In this way, the users will know immediately if the page has the information that they are looking for, and if not, they will be able to save precious waiting time knowing that they do not need that certain page.

5. The loading of graphics should be controlled as such that loading will commence from top to bottom, and the users scrolling down the page will encounter said graphics.

6. The downloading of pages should be fast in order to save users waiting time, and in order to reduce the chances that they will get frustrated that they will abandon plans to download. Here are several ways to achieve fast download periods:

-Keep the physical size of the graphics to a minimum
-Images should be combined in order to minimize the number of server connections. Remember, the more connections that exists, the slower the download time will be
-Decrease image resolution
-Limit the colors that will be used for the images
-Limit the use of animation

Animation is very much a part of web graphic design. The primary difference between web text and graphics and contents that are print-based is the dynamics. Moving displays attract the attention of users as long as the frequency of the display is regulated. Too much animation display can irritate and distract users. An animation that is perpetually moving can destroy the readable quality of the web page.

The usage of blinking texts should be avoided. It has long been regarded as an overused feature and the latest browsers no longer support it.

In designing a web site, there always exists a conflict between the desire to have total control over the appearance of a page and the need to permit users to establish their own preferences. The general appearance of the page should be made by the designer, but there are certain elements that users should have control over, such as color and text background, and the option whether to display graphics or not.

It takes a considerable amount of effort to establish and maintain the attractiveness and efficiency of a web site. If the guidelines above will be followed, all the efforts of web designers will bear desirable results. They only have to remember that the benefit of the users will always be the basis for everything.

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