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How to Avoid the 12 Common Web Design Mistakes

Website Redesign ChecklistWebsite Redesign Checklist

Are people visiting your web site, but not buying? This may be a sign, and the time to do some redesign of your web site. Often you are so close to what you have created, that you can’t see obvious design mistakes. I have done the same when writing an article – everything looks fine when I have finished, yet when I review it the next day, I am amazed at how many mistakes I have made.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common Web Design mistakes:

1. Sloppy Web Site Copy – your heading and first paragraph should clearly indicate the purpose of your web site. “Content is King” on the Net, so make sure there is plenty of focused information for your visitors. The content should draw the visitor through the site, to take action in the end. Include contact information on every page in case people have questions..

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Web Templates: Replacing Designers?

web designer equipmentWeb Designer EcquipmentI’ve seen articles (and websites) that suggest you can buy a website template and skip the expense of hiring a professional website designer. Recently, I read several testimonials from the very satisfied customers of a website template vendor that mentioned how quickly they were able to get their sites done. The template vendor commented that he/she had known people to complete their websites in around two hours.

With experiences and statements like these, it not surprising that more and more people are attempting to build websites themselves. I think that’s great in a way. For those of us who are concerned about the trends in the web industry and community, it’s great to see more people becoming web oriented and involved.

However, I think there is a misunderstanding by many of these people about what a website template really is – and is not. At this point, I think it only fair that I should mention that I am a professional website designer (the person you supposedly don’t need anymore). I should also mention that this is not my sole motivation for questioning this idea of templates replacing web designers. As a matter of fact, I think website templates are extremely useful. I recommend using them to my clients as a way of getting a great graphical look for their site. What I hope to convey is that template consumers need to know what they are and what they aren’t getting with a template.

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What Is RSS And How Can It Benefit You?

RSS feedRSS FeedRSS is short for Really Simple Syndication. It is part of the XML family that is used for syndicating information. Put simply RSS allows one web site to share information with another web site.

As a web site publisher, RSS offers a way for them to publish their information on many web sites, which in turns increases their reach on the Internet and the amount of traffic they receive to their web site. They also receive more one way links back to their web site. These benefits result in an increase in their search engine ranking.

As a web site owner, RSS allows them to receive up to date links to information on a regular basis that runs on auto pilot. When the publishing site is updated, their web site is also updated.

The result of this is that their web site is updated more regularly which also increases their search engine ranking.

The other benefit the web site owner receives from using RSS is that their information remains "fresh" which encourages their visitors to return on a regular basis.

However, the web site owner does not receive the complete articles, instead, they receive a feed that contains a title, a brief description and a link to the article that resides on the publishers web site.

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What to Do When a Client is Ticked Off

angry customer on phoneAngry Customer on PhoneMy client Jerry was threatening to sue. Worse, my programmer was dragging his feet and didn't see the seriousness of Jerry's threats. I was on the phone with Jerry for hours at a time.

The custom ordering system we designed for Jerry's web site needed some small changes that really weren't affecting the performance of his site. Jerry kept saying that the whole system was flawed and that it needed to be completely redone. However, he already had more than 600 sales adding up to more than $100,000. What to do?

We eventually got all the problems fixed up but Jerry ended up having the site and ordering system redone by another company so Jerry was now out of my hair. Was this a good thing or a bad thing?

Customer retention is crucial in all businesses and handling ticked off customers is a part of growing great long-term relationships. Sometimes you choose not to retain a customer even if they are happy with the work you're doing. The time and energy they cost you isn't worth the money you make from them.

High and Fire Clients Judiciously

Reflecting on the situation with Jerry, I probably shouldn't have ever taken him as a client because he smelled of trouble from the outset. The first time I came into Jerry's shop he was arguing with a customer while I waited. He was unbending and wasn't willing to make concessions.

Malcolm Gladwell writes of this in his book, "Blink". We need to be aware of when something doesn't feel right and do something about it before getting in too deep. I should have just walked. Advertising guru David Ogilvy proudly admitted that he fired more clients than fired him.

It takes bravado and diplomacy to drop a client, especially if they are a big source of income. You have to weigh the headaches they cause with the checks that are deposited in your bank account. Are they worth it?

boundariesSet BoundariesSetting Expectations Early and Realistically

I lost another client around the same time because I did not set expectations. Daniel and I had more of a friendship than a client/vendor relationship. He looked and smelled like a good client, but I realized later that he was a problem. He took a lot of my time and had too high of expectations for the work we were doing for the price he was paying.

If you have a friendship with a client, you still have to set strong boundaries with them. You communicate your expectations and bill them accordingly for the work you do. It's easy not to bill for your time if someone is a friend. You have to set the expectation that you will be billing them for all the work that you are doing for them.

angryAngryDon't Let Problems Fester

Daniel and I had a blow up when he misunderstood something that I had written in one of my blogs. He wrote me a strong email that I reacted to in kind by email. If he had read the blog or clicked on the link in the posting he would have seen I had great intentions. And the blog wasn't even about him-there was just a link on the side of the page pointing to his site.

If I could go back in time I would have waited a day or two to cool down. Then I would have written an email explaining my writing and suggested talking face-to-face or by phone. Live and learn.

things fall through cracksThings fall through cracksHire Skilled, Responsible People to Handle Your Client's Work

My problem was I was trying to do everything myself, and things were falling through the cracks. Now I tell my clients to communicate their web site changes directly to the designer and they will be billed accordingly. That way changes don't get stuck in my In Box.

Make the Hand-off Easy

If the client chooses to leave or you fire the client, make the transition as smooth as possible. Provide all the files and information they need to move forward if that is the nature of your business. Even if the break up is hostile, make a point to be civil and professional. They may never return as a client, but they may not badmouth you if things end more positively. Daniel got a new company to work on his sites, and I made the transition as smooth as possible for him. I doubt I will ever have him as a client again, but I needed to know in my heart that can make the transition easy for the next person.

smooch some hineySmooch Some HineySmooch Some Hiney

Okay, you have a client who pays well and is worth keeping. Now is the time to kiss some butt. You have to admit you did something wrong and make amends.

My client Scott didn't know some of the work we were supposed to do for him was done. But I knew. I took the risk of telling and then also told him that we would do work for him during the following month at no cost to him. It cost me $600 but it was worth keeping Scott as a client.

Handling ticked off clients is all about doing crisis management, and then deciding how far you will go to keep them as a client. You may choose to give up peacefully and let them go, or you can fight to keep them. Sometimes you have no choice. But when you have the choice and want to keep them as a client, do all you can to make things right. They may represent many more years of income.

Please contact us if you have any queries, or would like a free quotation

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When You Should Consider Using a Site Template or Wizard to Build Your Own Website

design and artDesign and ArtI'm a web designer letting you know when it's important not to use a web designer. I feel this is very important to discuss, because many customers spend a lot of money when a much simpler solution is available for them. HTML and other web technologies are easy to learn, but very difficult to master. There are many automated template and site wizards which can walk you through developing a simple site without any prior web design or programming knowledge. For the right customer this is a great solution to their web design needs.

The Look:

Although wizards and template machines have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, they still have a somewhat "generic" look and feel. If setup perfectly a website audience may not know specifically they are looking at a template site, although almost unavoidably they will feel uninspired by the look and at least subconsciously know they've seen a ton of websites with the same idea. The designs are usually engineered to be able to be conformed to any business so they lack any cohesion or emotional link to your specific company or individual site. There are some exceptions to this. Extremely large e-stores may have a VERY extensive library of templates even ones catered to specific professions. If the success of your website depends on an "expensive", ultra professional, or creative look then definitely rule out this possibility.


Time Frame limitedTime Frame LimitedTime Frame:

Templates and wizard sites are usually advertised with tag lines like build your website in 5 minutes. Regardless of the simplicity of the interface, if you're going to build a good website even with a wizard or template expect to spend hours and hours of your time on it. Without the help of a professional who can guide you through the trial and error discovery and content refinement process, expect to do a lot of research on your own. In addition if you have problems or make mistakes you won't have an ability to get instant help and tech support is painfully slow. If you have strict time schedule requirements, rule this possibility out.

Ideal Candidates:

Websites that represent industries where the website itself is not meant to be profitable (IE no e-commerce sites)

Personal home pages.

Situation where the website's goal is only to reinforce the product or service and not to provide new customers but as an information source. Industries or services were extremely good automated web solutions exist and are easily available. One example is real-estate agents, although elite agents may want a fancy website, a normal agent can find very satisfactory template website solutions that are complete with industry specific functions and features like mortgage and interest calculators and live up link with their firm's properties. In addition all the web competition has kept the price of these services VERY low.

When only the product has significance. If your setting up a website to sell a used car, and want your local ads in the paper to point there, people could care less if the graphic design looks professional. PLEASE use a template.

If you're testing an idea or concept and don't want to spend a lot of money.

out of business diy website designOut of Business DIY WebsiteWhat not to do:

Here is what I don't recommend. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT try to build your own site by learning a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you editor like front page or Dreamweaver, unless you already know these programs well and have a lot of web experience. These programs are not intuitive and will allow you to completely mess up your layout and code.

time on your handsTime on Your HandsAlthough extremely limiting, the online wizard and template machines have a certain degree of fail safeness to them. You simply supply the information and they setup the pages for you. You can upload pictures and adjust them quickly and easily following simply directions. In a WYSIWYG editor there are many non intuitive things you have to know WELL in order to create a website that's functional. I've have A LOT of website customers come to me after practically pulling their hair out with all the problems they encountered trying to fix problems in their self created website.

I've also met very few non tech people who were successful at building a good looking website with front page or dream weaver. If you're a computer power user, that's of course a different story, but even for you, good web design is a very difficult thing to grasp. Use an online wizard, builder or template instead of a WYSIWYG editor, unless you have a LOT of time on your hands.

Contact us today for a free quotation or more information.

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