I'm in the process of designing my website with the help of a professional that is a friend. I've been kinda checking the Taxidermists websites listed in the beginning of this forum for ideas on layout, etc. And, other non-taxidermy websites again to gain some knowledge on whats good and bad, etc. I'm no expert nor do I play one on t.v., but I'd have to say that at least 25% of the websites (taxidermy and in general) have either navigational errors or are poorly designed to the point where I get out and move on to the next one! Now when I say poorly designed I'm not talking just gaudy colors or bad layout I'm talking:
1. Heavy duty graphics: some folks have some intense pictures on their opening page that take quite awhile to open. I've got an 800mghz computer with 256 meg of ram along with a cable connection. What do you think potential customers with a dial up modem are going to do?
2. Navigational errors: things were moved and not checked. End result, potential customers are moving on to the next website...
3. Bad color choices or bad graphics: Some websites are difficult to read because of poor choice in colors - not enough contrast. Or, "busy" graphics cloud things. Example: one site has a deer moving across the pages and it obliverates the pricing and other information (I'm not picking on this site - just happened to remember this problem...) behind it...
4. Annoying pop-ups! Especially the ones that don't allow you to hit your back button. I hate these websites and make a note to never visit them again!
5. Music: music is very distracting and takes process time. Again, if a customer is surfin looking for a taxidermist they're already anxious to unload their cash let alone waiting for your website to pop up.
6. Typos. My pet peeve. If there's typos in something as important as a website then this person obviously doesn't pay enough attention to details. It's almost like a resume. If I'm looking at resumes for a potential hire and there's a blatant typo it gets hurled!
7. Bad design: examples would be:
A. Full graphics vs. individual pics - you know, where the little hand constantly show up and you think there's a link there but there's not?
B. Underlining text that's also not linked.
C. No rollovers or shading to tell there's a link and where you're at. These are nice navigational features that are easy to do for a professional.
That's about it for the MAJOR stuff. A good way to tell if the layout of your website is good is have a ten year old check it out. If they can get around fairly easily then it's probably a decent design. Also, have several friends critique it and make sure they're honest! Your website is sometimes the first thing potential customers see. Yes, you're trying to get their attention but too many sites focus on attention grabbers and totally miss the boat on the basics and content...
Please take this as constructive criticism. I'm not trying to single anybody out I just hate to see good folks spending hard earned money on junk! "Web Designers" are popping up much like "taxidermists" do (LOL) and their quality varies just as much or more. They don't even need a $25 license! Just some business cards and bingo they're "web designers". Choose yours carefully and ask for references and by all means don't pay them until you're 100% satisfied!
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I have spent a fair amount of time on the internet and the things that you mention in your posting where the same exact things that burn my tail so to speak. I cant even imagine how many hundreds of websites I have hit the back button on while waiting for all the annoying little animations, large pictures and link banners to open.
When I had my website designed, I kept all those things in mind when deciding what to include and avoid in my site. I wanted something that was easy on the eyes in respect to color. I wanted graphics on the front page that were related to my business. I did put one graphic that loads three photos of my work on the front page, but did so in a reduced size to minimize the loading time. I even placed the simplest link banner to the taxidermy.net that was available to shorten load up time. I also placed my photo galleries on separate pages to spread the load out time evenly to each page on my website. This way, instead of waiting forever for all the information on my site to load on the front page, each page loads equally in respect to time but still provides all the data available.
Another important aspect from a web-surfers point of view, are thumbnailed photos. I have seen many sites that have several full size photos on one page, which slows downloading time immensly. Then you find out after the page does finally open that there wasn't really anything on that page that you are interested in looking at. With thumbnailed photos however, you can place several smaller versions of your work on each page without sacrificing download speed. With these small photos, you can easily distinquish between a woodduck that you want to view, and the antelope that you do not. The viewer can then simply click on the thumbnail for a larger more detailed version of the item which he or she cares to look at, and it will open on another page.
And finally, There is always the selection of who will host your site once it is completed. It pays to do some research on these servers and try to contact a few of the folks that use their services before obligating yourself to any one company. This is important for many reasons, but the most may be advertising costs. If you intend to print your website address on such things as fliers, yellow pages ads, or business cards, it can become costly to have your website address change at anytime that you still have sufficient stock of these materials on hand. And what do you think as a potential client if someone you are considering hiring for a job hands you a business card with the address or phone number crossed out in pen or pencil and is corrected by hand. Now I know someone here is gonna say that the final product would make up their mind. But I am fairly positive that if someone was to hand you a card like that, some negative feeling no matter how insignificant is gonna run through your mind.
Along with choosing a website hosting server cost should be a consideration. It helps to know what you are getting for your dollar.
I innitially chose a local server that was charging $30 a month for 10
MEGS of webspace. I was in a hurry to get my site in circulation and took the bait. There were many disappointments along the way. My address didnt have any resemblance to the name of my business. My address read as follows-www.f***omm.net/rwc. Now lets evaluate this.
I get to pay my server $30 a month to basically advertise their name to every potential client, without any clue to the name of my business in the address. Now this may seem trivial, but when someone types in the name of your business on a search engine, and it reads as above, you can forget about getting any hits. Then there was the connection speed. I began to notice that even with my carefully thought out plan to shorten downloading speed, that my page began to take longer and longer each time to load. Technical support was another of this companys weak points. Each time I would call them for support, I would get a different guy on the phone. Now there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you get the same answer to a problem each time you call. I eventually did some research on the internet and located several free servers on line that would host your web page for no fee. These sites will host your page for free, but most will place any number of advertisment banners on your page. I decided to test several of these sites to see if I would be interested in going this route. Many of the sites limited your website size to 2 or 3 pages with minimal content. Some of the websites had so many banners on them, that it was almost impossible to navigate around YOUR information. An equal amount of them would shrink your page down to about half screen to place animated java script banners on the top half of the screen. These banners would always be present and their constant revolving really slowed down the page. I then uploaded my website to several of these sites and then attempted to navigate the site on each, to get an idea of what my clients would be seeing. After careful consideration of all factors, I was not only able to find a server to host my page for free, but was able to find one that would do so with minimal intrusion into my website. My new server permits me to use 3 times the space for free that I was paying $30 a month for. They place my company name right in the address. I have never once attempted to access my site and found the server to be down. And, the server actually loads my website faster than the server for which I was paying.
I know that this has really gotten long winded, but if it helps someone else avoid the same pitfalls that I didn't perhaps it's worth it. We all might as well face it. The computer age is here, we can either climb aboard and reap the benefits, or get left behind. Good Luck. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in viewing my website hosted on the free server, please feel free to do so at-
The above listed e-mail is free also. Why pay more than you have to?
check them out at- www.mail.com
Michael Rowley the other thing is when it dosent fit on the page and you have to scroll it over to read it
If it bothers you so much to wait a few extra second to see some ones web site then dont bother.Like the saying goes: If ya dont like whats the TV,then change the Channel!
My site takes time,It'scause i have quite a few pictures in it.Maybe its time you upgrade your 486DX Computer and invest in a Pentium.