bad web design
now browsing by tag
Even now, I am receiving requests for Flash introductions and Flash sites.
For those of you who don’t know what Flash is, Flash is an amazing piece of software. It is robust illustration and animation combined with all sorts of interactive items for web surfers to play with. It has a really neat programmer’s side to it, too, allowing people with no knowledge of how to write website code to put pieces together (kinda like that Mousetrap game we played as kids) and do some really cool things on someone’s computer.
On the downside, though, it uses up a LOT of computer resources, crashes a lot of browsers, and has been involved in all sorts of software conflicts with several companies…
…most recently: Apple.
…even Apple has had enough of Flash’s resource-hogging.
…Apple… you know, the company that graphic and web designers like to use… the same people who use Flash…
Flash doesn’t even play on the iPhones or iPads.
Now yes, the Androids do… and that’s another whole discussion.
But as a business, as a marketer trying to reach as many people in your target audience as possible:
Don’t use Flash.
Otherwise, you alienate a large portion of your potential buyers… and they’re the ones who will spend more money on something if they think it is good.
“But Website Dave, my site must have animation on it? What am I to do?”
There are alternatives… good ones that have developed and don’t crash browsers… and that do a better job of showing what you do.
Blogs tell a visitor a whole lot about a business.
A blog that has been going on for a while tells a visitor that this business stays on track, is dependable, and has a lot to say or is an expert in their field. It is an indicator that someone is taking their business seriously.
It is also fantastic fodder for the search engines to play with and to find you and to maybe even push you up the rankings if you are doing it enough.
However, it is also a double-edged sword.
When a company is not maintaining their blog, it tells visitors a different story… it says that a company is not organized enough to take care of their website.
Make a meeting with yourself once a week and write something into your blog. This is part of image management, and if your blog is all that someone sees of your business, then it needs to look like you care and are taking care of your business.
If you just can not take the time to update your blog, remove it from your website. Really. Take what posts you have written and change them into articles. You will be taken a lot more seriously… you’ll just lose all the search and recent information benefits.
If once a week is too much to do, then take two to four hours once a month, write out all of your blog posts for the month and schedule them to come out one at a time. It will do you a whole lot more good than doing nothing.
Remember, this is your business, and this is how you find new bosses to hire you!
Seth from San Diego writes:
Why are restaurant websites so notoriously bad? It’s almost like they go out of the way to be so bad!”
Well, Seth, I feel your pain. The restaurant business is a tough business and it attracts a wide variety of people. I spent six years in the industry, managing both restaurants and nightclubs, and I saw a lot of things happen.
The restaurant industry naturally lends itself to ineffective design for many reasons (I could write a dissertation here, but I’ll try to keep things simple).
The first thing I consider is that restaurants are all about presentation. Even at the cheap places, presentation is everything. Servers are trained in details such as keeping salt and pepper shakers lined up and filled to the point where a guest (don’t call them a customer) can’t see any space at the top.
I have watched chefs throw plates of freshly cooked food and berate one of their cooks because a pork chop was plated a quarter-turn away from how it should have been placed and sommeliers screaming because a wine got served into an iced tea glass instead of a wine glass.
They expect everything to represent the restaurant’s presentation, and that includes the website. It has to be “special.”
Another consideration is the nature of the restauranteur. The restaurant doesn’t just represent them, it is them, and the website is an extension. If their website isn’t as “cool” as the next guy’s, then it’s a disaster. It is certainly a place where they can put more emphasis on form than function.
Third is money. Restaurants can become money pits very quickly. By the time they start thinking about their website, the project is already a couple months late and double the budget. Websites often go to the lowest bidder, or even an employee on their staff who is a graphic artist.
So instead of getting experienced veterans, they get inexperienced web designers who are just starting out, and they work as if this restaurant is going to be one of their big showpieces to demonstrate all of their skills… So they take the job at a low bid, only to regret it later after the 20th round of changes.
There are plenty of really well done restaurant websites on the Internet, and you can tell which ones they are when you see them. They have good presentation and are easy to use. They’re usually for larger restaurants with experienced owners and budgets to match.
Now for the short version of the answer:
Would a company like Ruth’s Chris Steak House hire some college kid or a beginner to build their website?
Of course not… But Andy’s Taco Bar probably would… And you can tell the difference.
Common Sense Web Design Says avoid website templates unless you really know what you are doing.
Just like doing your own hair color, when you screw it up, it shows! When a man puts that stuff in their hair without knowing what they’re doing, they go from salt & pepper to jet black in 8 minutes flat… and everyone notices, but they don’t say anything.
I would love to meet the owner of a certain Italian restaurant here in Marietta. Anyone with garlic rolls that taste that good needs to know that their do-it-yourself website has a couple really big problems…
To quote that great philosopher, Brittney Spears: “Oops! They did it again.” Their template-made website includes a hit counter and access to administrative tools and information that they probably don’t want the public to be looking at.
Common Sense Web Design Says to choose an email address wisely…
The following email addresses have been altered (but not by much) to protect identities.
“Skoal bandit at yahoo” doesn’t say “computer repair tech.”
“Tequila diva at hotmail” doesn’t say “virtual assistant.”
“Party till you puke at yahoo” sold insurance and “stripperbabe at aol” was an office secretary selling health products.
One’s email address communicates a lot about an individual – especially if it is potentially embarrassing for the person.
Their new emails tell people that they are in business: “Their name at their company dot com.”
Common Sense Web Design Says to make the domain name easy for folks to remember.
That Bird Site dot com is much easier to remember than Tim Vogle’s 18th Annnual Southeastern Bird Show dot com.
Jimmy is a painter and his canvas is somebody else’s brick walls. He doesn’t usually have permission to use these brick walls and Jimmy wants to show off his handiwork but wants no hard evidence that can link him to it. His domain name was jimmy smith spray paint art dot com.
You can’t make this up!
Luckily, being the marketing junkie that I am, helping clients choose a memorable domain name just comes naturally to me.
“The Graffiti Guy” is much easier to remember and we developed a domain name that is just as easy to remember and that keeps Jimmy safely anonymous.
Common Sense Web Design Says a website should sell one concept at a time. A specialty shoe store shouldn’t try to sell barbecue grills on the same website.
Being the marketing junkie that I am, helping clients focus on one niche market at a time just comes naturally to me.
Bruce has a deli with two locations, which are open for breakfast and lunch. He and his wife started a speed dating company and considered advertising the delis on their speed dating site and vice-versa.
This would have created branding problems at best and credibility issues at worst.
While it could be a good practice to put a coupon for the deli into the speed dating email once in a while, it doesn’t work the other way around.
Luckily, I convinced them that delis and speed dating go together like peanut butter and sauerkraut and we discussed better ways to promote the companies.
Ludlow Porch was a famous southern talk show host who was famous for al kinds of jokes he played on the radio, including getting all kinds of threats from around the country when he made the claim that Montana did not exist.
“I was born with a face for radio,” he would often quip.
There aren’t very many of us who have been blessed with supermodel looks.
Tina’s brother designed her tanning salon’s website.
Tina’s brother is a genius commercial software engineer.
I don’t think Tina’s brother likes her very much.
I remember asking myself what she could have dome to him that made him design her site with orange text against a brighter yellow screen.
Then she said “Don’t you just LOVE the colors? They remind me of the sun!”
Color-coordination rules still apply on the Internet. If it doesn’t look right off screen, it won’t look right on screen.
I’m not going to go into color theory or the color wheel or anything like that here… But if it hurts someone’s eyes to look at a website, then they’re not going to look at it very long.
Beep. Click. Whirr. Swish.
Is there anything more annoying than sitting next to someone who has their sound turned on and you get to listen to all of their sounds all day long?
Yes, there is the argument that a sound let’s someone know that they clicked on something… But unless it’s a quiet click, you’re giving visitors a reason to leave your site.
The number one rule in business is “never assume.” I am giving you permission to break this rule in this case.
Assume that the person going to your website works in an office, and that there are probably other people around them within earshot. Their job description probably doesn’t include visiting your site on the Internet. How will it look when all of a sudden, their computer starts making noises because they are on your site?
They’ll be OFF your site quicker than their manager can say “who’s playing games?”