So you’ve decided to hire a designer for your new website. Hopefully, he or she is a professional. Your friend’s, sister’s teenage son doesn’t count as a professional. Instead, you need someone with the skills to create an interesting and visually pleasing site that loads quickly, is easy for your visitors to understand and use, and is Search Engine friendly. This requires much more expertise than you may imagine.
Consult with your professional about what you want your website to do for you and your business. Then, they will work with you to create it. There are bad things that good designers are asked to do time and time again that are simply harmful for a website. It’s our job to advise you. Please take the advice for which you are paying.
Please don’t ask your web designer to:
Place light colored text on a dark background
This technique should be used sparingly. It is very hard to read. In addition, some printers will print the background color of a page, which wastes a considerable amount of ink.
Create dark text on a black background.
It cannot be read. Need I say more?
Tile a background image.
Tiled background images add to a page’s download time. They are usually too busy and take away from the focus of the site.
Center everything on the page.
This is a website design not a print design. Unless you want to post something that looks like a wedding invitation, don’t use this technique. It’s boring.
Bold and italicize this, this and this.
Your readers will quickly get confused trying to tell what is most important. Only use one headline and italicize only in small amounts. However, when used properly, as in this article, bolding can help to make a web page more scannable, so that readers can quickly find what they are interested in.
Create banners that move text across the screen.
Moving banners may have been the latest and greatest thing in 1990, but today it’s best not to use this outdated and amateurish technique. In my opinion, they make me dizzy. This is not Kmart and you’re not advertising a blue light special.
Place off-site links on your home page.
You work hard to get visitors to your site. Don’t send them off into the wild blue yonder as soon as they arrive-they may never come back.
Put huge images on your pages.
Please take the time to format your images, or we will format them for you at cost. Images should be jpg, gif or png, RGB, 72 dpi and no larger than 600 pixels wide.
Copy a photo from another site.
Copying or borrowing photos from another site is not okay. Take your own photos or hire a professional photographer. You may also buy stock photos from www.istock.com or a similar site. Refer to Julia Baldwin’s newsletter article “Selecting Appropriate Photography for Your Website” for more information.
Create a huge flash slide show.
Sure, they look great when used in moderation. However, large slide shows can really slow down page load times. One slide show with four or five quality images is plenty. Maybe I’m sensitive but, too many moving things on a website still makes me dizzy.
Make music play when someone lands on a page.
Not to mention copyright issues, music or any kind of audio is distracting and annoying. If you insist on audio, please give the viewer the choice to quickly turn it off. There’s nothing worse than getting caught looking at a vacation site while at work.
Stretch or shrink your content.
If you want a five page web design, don’t give the designer 20 pages of text to squish into 5 pages. On the other hand, don’t give the designer one small paragraph, either. Be prepared to write your own copy. We are designers not writers, as you can probably tell by this article’s author.
Do “just one quick change”.
This one isn’t necessarily bad for your website, but it can erode your relationship with your designer. Let’s face it, if it was that easy you could probably do it yourself. Let a professional decide how much time is needed for a change to your site. If it is a text change to your navigation, for example, it will take longer than changing a price or word in the body text. Be prepared to pay for all work completed to your satisfaction, no matter how much or how little time it takes.
Your website will be a better place to visit and more productive for your business, as well, if you take advantage of everything a professional designer knows about creating good web sites.
Photo from OxOx