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rezzy
02-12-2009, 10:21 PM
I think its only fitting that I created some of the most prevalant problems I see with people in web design. Although this list is not all inclusive. i think it represents some come ones.

1. Assuming a WYSIWYG editor can create a great website
Using a program to code your site will only result in jarbled code that no person or search engine, for that matter can understand.

2. Slicing an image in Photoshop and exporting it as an html is "good enough".
Photoshop does not know that using CSS you can repeat an image several thousand times, shortening the time a download takes.

3. A certain software package will make me better.
I have heard this one at to often, people believe that if they use a high end software package they can make sites that are wonderful, this is further from the truth.

4. Tabled layouts are fine to use for site layout.
Although tables have their time and place, DATA ONLY. Designers believe that using them is the best way to code a site. I believe this stems from 3 and partially 1, they use the software packages that created all the code for them.

The best way to code a site is using DIV tags and CSS.

5. So, I lied and could only think of four. I left space for you to comment.:D

SteveC
02-13-2009, 12:38 AM
Here are my five tips that people in this industry make...

Website designed to use the latest technology rather than to achieve maximum results for the client.
Websites designed by people that do not understand business and how business works.
Websites designed by people that know how to use a particular open source solution but no little else of website design and internet marketing... these websites after a while all look pretty much the same.
Websites that fail to deliver... a website should generate an income, if it doesn’t it is not successful.
Websites that are not promoted or updated... and clients left high and dry once the website is finished... as professionals it is up to us to help our clients achieve success and not leave them with their new website not knowing what they should or shouldn’t do.

As you can see I prefer not to focus on specifics such as tables or tableless designs... budgets and good working practise generally dictate this... the important thing all website designers should recognise is that they should be judged more on the results they generate (income) than anything else.

Just my opinion of course.

cbscreative
02-13-2009, 02:23 AM
OK, Steve, you claim that is your opinion, but I happen to agree. Standards, coding, and all the other stuff is great, but client focused and profit is the key. Kudos on your post, I can now step down from my soap box, but I will likely climb back on once someone puts too much emphasis on the other elements.

This does not reduce the importance of rezzy's points, it just adds emphasis where it belongs: the needs of the client.

vangogh
02-13-2009, 12:34 PM
Great lists guys. Interesting too to have two (<-- wow too, to, and two all together) lists that come from completely different aspects of web development. Both the technical and the business/marketing are important.

I'd sooner see the bigger picture errors as the more egregious, but fixing technical errors is also important.

cbscreative
02-13-2009, 12:54 PM
Yeah, I was thinking that this thread really could be split up (I'm not suggesting two threads, just pointing it out). The original post approached the subject from the technical side, while Steve quickly illustrated the business side. Mistakes definitely are common in both areas. You could also split this into mistakes made by web designers, and mistakes made by site owners. It could be an interesting discussion as it progresses.

KristineS
02-13-2009, 01:36 PM
I suppose this is a mistake made by designers, but it's also a mistake made by site owners as well. I can't tell you how many sites have been ruined by needing to add something because it's cool. Maybe it's a flash intro, or one of those annoying talking head people, or music or whatever. Some people get so carried away by being able to do the latest thing that they don't stop to think about whether or not the latest thing is actually beneficial.

rezzy
02-13-2009, 02:10 PM
KristineS, I think you make an important note.

When does form over function? When does the newest gadget become to much? Is it ok to use ajax on a site, if it makes the sites look flow nicer? At what point does using the latest technology become to intrusive into the websites logical flow. I came across a site that you navigate by hovering your mouse. The idea is you arent suppose to click. www.dontclick.it (http://www.dontclick.it/). I am not saying we should go to this extreme, but at what point has the flash over usability?

On the business side of things, I think the ultimate goal is for a site to make profits for the client. But the blame should not rest solely on the developer/designer. Without the client endorsing their website, via print, etc. The site cant bring in people.

Is it a designers job advertise a site?

nealrm
02-13-2009, 02:39 PM
I'm going to bring in a third area - hosting. Users don't want to be waiting around for a slow server. Using a low cost, low bandwidth, shared service will only result is client click out before the site finished loading.

As for technology, I think all retail and most sites in general should be 1 or 2 steps behind on the user technology end. Why, because if your site requires the last tech to work, you eliminate those potentail clients that are not at that level.

cbscreative
02-13-2009, 04:55 PM
On the business side of things, I think the ultimate goal is for a site to make profits for the client. But the blame should not rest solely on the developer/designer. Without the client endorsing their website, via print, etc. The site cant bring in people.

Is it a designers job advertise a site?

No, it is not the designers job to advertise, but whether or not the designer chooses to get involved in the marketing aspect of a site is up to them. Personally, I think it is important. If the client comes to you well informed, knows just what they need, have their marketing all laid out, and understands how the Internet works, then you can just create what they ask for. However, that is rarely the case, especially for a small business. When the web designer can go beyond just design, then their service is much more valuable.

rezzy
02-13-2009, 05:56 PM
When the web designer can go beyond just design, then their service is much more valuable.

That I totally agree with. The designer has to do market research, for cases when they dont know the environment, and find what expectations that market has.

For instance, I monitor stats on my clients website, as a means of following my progress as designers and clients business progress. When I see the client offering a new incentive, I try to recommend web based solutions that can make go along with the current promotions.

I think the best business is when you make your client's success your own. When I found my client was getting new clients, I was excited.:o This has gotten derailed a bit, and so I want to bring it back on topic.

Hosting- People want the cheapest hosting, but dont realize that if the reliability it can sometimes cost. For instance, hosts that claim unlimited everything. No host can ever live up to that statement.

One thing that really bugs me, is when I come across sites that, have some company that designed it and the site was created using Word or some other program not meant for web.

SteveC
02-13-2009, 08:05 PM
Our business is built by generating revenue for our clients... we host almost all of our clients websites on our own dedicated servers which we manage and have installed with whatever software we like... and we have some rather specialist software. Our server is also extremely fast and certainly in the top ten percent for speed.

We also help promote all of our clients within the search engines, we do this on a monthly basis... we actively teach our clients how to perform successful search engine marketing and further we tell them how to market their website... just basic information however we do tell them that without doing so their website will not be successful.

Basically we do everything in our power to ensure their website is a success and this applies from both a business and technical aspect... because a good website that validates and is designed correctly will in most cases feature higher within the search engines.

My point I guess is this... It is a website designers overall responsibility to help ensure a website looks and works and generates some additional revenue, you are being employed as the professional after all, so act like one.

We have had cases were we have had:


Massive arguments with clients about what they want and what will work and we generally get our way.
In the rare instances were a client is insistence then we get the client to sign a disclaimer to the effect that we as a company take no responsibility for the performance of the website... as it is being designed to meet their direct instructions against our specific professional advice.


And here is a tip... if a client comes to me that wants the cheapest hosting, something I am not happy with... then we don’t accept them as clients... we only accept clients that we know we can work with and can generate results for... as a website designer I do not believe you should accept all clients.

I imagine both the Steve’s work in a similar fashion as do others here... and I disagree that this is two conversation a technical and a business one... both go hand in hand, however ultimately it is the results you generate for your client that you should be judged on.

And apologies if this came across as self promotion, that was not my intention especially as we’re not looking for clients... however I do feel that a lot of designers lack the basic business acumen to help ensure their clients websites work and generate results.

cbscreative
02-13-2009, 08:52 PM
I imagine both the Steve’s work in a similar fashion as do others here... and I disagree that this is two conversation a technical and a business one... both go hand in hand, however ultimately it is the results you generate for your client that you should be judged on.

Yes, I definitely work from the same perspective. Since I am the one who commented about this being two conversations, I would clarify that I was referring to both kinds of errors. Yes, they are interrelated, and often technical mistakes cause profit problems, but the way you and rezzy each created your lists focusing on different types of mistakes demonstrates how the one subject is really about both. I certainly wouldn't argue about how they go hand in hand.

These two are only separate in the sense that it's possible for a web site to be technically perfect, yet fail to create profit. You could discuss each side separately, but that does not mean they are complete without each other. I'm glad this thread was quickly balanced out to include both.

vangogh
02-14-2009, 12:49 PM
Steve I don't do all the things you do, but I do approach design and development from a marketing perspective. How much of the specific work I do depends on what the client is willing to pay, but I'm always offering ideas and suggestions for improving the marketing of the site and I do everything I can when building the site the meet the business objectives of the site.

I think too many people mistake design for aesthetics and if something looks good they assume it must be designed well. That's not the case. It's easy to create something beautiful that hopelessly fails to meet any business or marketing goals.

My goal with all my clients is to see their site and business do as well as possible. While they may technically only be hiring me to create a look and build their site I want to offer anything I can to help them beyond the site development.

billbenson
02-14-2009, 02:25 PM
I can safely say that my main site is butt ugly and has some features that don't work. I'm try to cut it over to an new platform but have time constraint problems. Its currently oscommerce which is an old platform. Having said all of that, the site places 2 in the natural SERPS and sells. It has pretty good onsite seo though.

It's an example that a site doesn't always need to be the most elegant to make money.

cbscreative
02-14-2009, 02:57 PM
Bill, your point is one I often try to make. I would not suggest anyone do ugly, but it is a reality that an ugly site can sell if other things are done right. Designers hate to hear this, but the looks of a site are among the least important priorities. I mean, does anyone here consider eBay to be a thing of beauty? There are many ugly site owners who are laughing all the way to the bank.

I am certainly not advocating something hideous like we have probably all seen, but many designers over rate the looks. Why do templates sell? They look professional for one thing. Do most template based sites make money? No way.

vangogh
02-14-2009, 05:23 PM
Ugly is in the eye of the beholder as much as beauty is.

Aesthetics are certainly one aspect of design. And all things being equal I'd say the beautiful site outperforms the ugly site. A site like eBay works despite its lack of beauty, because of the idea itself and because the design is put more into making the thing work than worrying about how it looks.

One error I'll add to the discussion is:


lack of attention to detail

As it so happens I just finished reading a post about how details matter in design (http://www.alistapart.com/articles/thedetailsthatmatter) at A List Apart

rezzy
02-14-2009, 07:12 PM
While we are talking about "ugly" sites, craiglist is a prime example of such a site. It lacks any basic style and color yet manages to be one of the most popular sites around.

I think there is a good distincition to make as well. Between ugly and useable. You can have either/or, I think useablity should be a top priority. I would not mind a "but-ugly" site that was layed out perfectly and I never once stopped and thought google searching the site was a better approach.

Of course a little pretty and layout colors would be a plus

vangogh
02-14-2009, 10:39 PM
Craig's List is interesting when it comes to a discussion of beautiful vs ugly. I'm probably in the minority, but I don't think the site ugly at all. Now it's never going to win a design contest, but I think it's less the site is ugly and more that it has an absence of aesthetics.

CL is simply a list of links taking you to classified ads. Would aesthetics improve it at this point? I'm not sure. It's all pretty well organized and generally easy to find what you're looking for. Compare the site to the Drudge Report (http://drudgereport.com/), which is also little more than a list of links and see which you think is the ugly site.

nealrm
02-15-2009, 12:54 PM
I would say that Craig's list is an example of function over aesthetics. It also hit the market during a time when it didn't have much competition.

The market today is much more competitive than when Craig's list started. Today you need both function AND aesthetics.

vangogh
02-15-2009, 01:01 PM
I'm not sure if CL needs the aesthetics at this point since they basically own the market. They basically created it online. People use CL and know about CL and it's likely the first place most people look to for classifieds online. As long as CL keeps getting people to post new listings and others to find what they're looking for among those listings they'll be fine keeping things just as they are. I suspect the CL community also prefers it that way.

But I agree that another site would need more and the aesthetics could be one way to differentiate yourself from CL and others. You're not going to be able to clone CL exactly and think you'll have a successful site.

Again I think all things being equal you're better off building a beautiful site than an ugly one. At a minimum you should strive for a certain level of design that takes your site from amateur to profession. I don't mean you have to hire someone, but your site should adhere to basic design principles.

nealrm
02-15-2009, 01:20 PM
I agree - CL is basically popular because it is popular. That's a really good place to be.

But, business is not static. If you don't change with the times, your competition will. Just ask GM. The same could happen with CL.

That's one more error to add.

vangogh
02-15-2009, 01:40 PM
Very true. I don't want to say CL shouldn't change and add some aesthetics to their site. At the moment they don't really need to, but they may at some point in the future.

rezzy
02-16-2009, 12:50 AM
Here's an interesting question since everyone has run with CL. How do they make money?

If posts are free, no advertising. How can they make money? Whats the benefit for them.

There are competitors but they arent nearly as popular. If CL got prettier would that affect their user base who expects the site to look and feel like a newpaper classifieds?

vangogh
02-16-2009, 01:02 AM
In some of the larger cities they do charge to post certain ads. CL has a very small staff so they don't need a lot of money to be well off.

rezzy
02-16-2009, 11:10 AM
In some of the larger cities they do charge to post certain ads. CL has a very small staff so they don't need a lot of money to be well off.

Well, I am thinking more about hosting costs. Although the site doesnt require that much bandwidth, they need a vps to run that site.

vangogh
02-16-2009, 11:31 AM
Still not a lot of money compared to what they can make with the limited charging. Hosting really doesn't cost much even if you're going with a dedicated server. It may seem like a lot of money when compared with a shared hosting account, but overall it's still a very small expense for a business.

Marcomguy
02-18-2009, 07:46 PM
Top 10 sites on Alexa.com:


Google
Yahoo!
YouTube
Myspace
Facebook
Windows Live
Microsoft Network (MSN)
Wikipedia
EBay
Craigslist.org


Most of these sites aren't winning any beauty contests (though they might win the talent portion). As pointed out earlier in this thread, users aren't too concerned with looks and graphics.

Users go to a site to get something from it or to interact with it in some way: by getting information, buying something, communicating with someone. The sites above fulfill one or more of those needs very well. They provide real value in exchange for the user's time.

Most commercial websites (mine included) are self-serving to some extent. Which is probably why we don't see the kind of traffic these sites get.

vangogh
02-18-2009, 10:34 PM
Users go to a site to get something from it or to interact with it in some way

Understanding that is really the key to doing well online. People want that so you have to give it to them in some way. For example you have a blog and give away free content. It's a lot of work to create that content, but if you do it well you can sell products and services. It's important not to try to sell directly through the blog though. I see too many people treat their blog as a way to give more product info. Who wants to read about your latest product? Write about something that I want and I'll keep coming back and when I am ready to buy I'll buy from you.

kml9870
02-19-2009, 01:12 PM
I think one of the errors I see a lot in new designers is the lack of planning. I've seen people new to web design dive right into creating a site without having a clear concept of what the purpose of the site is, what the function of the site will be, etc. They start with a vague concept and end up with a mess that is difficult for the user to navigate, or the creation of the site takes 10 times longer than it should have.

vangogh
02-19-2009, 02:13 PM
Funny, I've actually been making notes for a blog post on that very same subject. I think to some degree it's because people still think design = aesthetics. So they think if they make something pretty enough it's good design.

Design is about solving problems and in the case of web design those problems start from business goals. You have to know the goals of the business in order to know the goals of the site in order to know how to design the site.

rezzy
02-19-2009, 03:23 PM
Vg, I was actually working a post that would compile this listing (still working on the CSS tutorial) and further explain for outsiders looking.

vangogh
02-19-2009, 08:40 PM
Now we can race to see who writes and publishes first :) Just kidding. I'm sure they'd be different posts anyway and there's room for two. Then again I have several posts going with notes that may or may not ever see the light of day.

Jagella
02-28-2009, 01:11 AM
Websites designed by people that do not understand business and how business works.

I would add that the business model and the marketing research should be in place prior to the start of the website's design and development. In other words, websites that are not suited to the business model and the target audience are not likely to fulfill their business purpose.


Websites designed by people that know how to use a particular open source solution but no little else of website design and internet marketing... these websites after a while all look pretty much the same.

Such websites may still be suitable for hobbies, educational purposes, or for businesses and organizations that only want a website to provide basic online information rather than act as a marketing vehicle.


Websites that fail to deliver... a website should generate an income, if it doesn’t it is not successful.

Don't forget nonprofit organizations' websites and government websites, Steve. You may wish to broaden your statement to: “A website should fulfill its intended purpose.”

Jagella

SteveC
02-28-2009, 08:24 PM
I would add that the business model and the marketing research should be in place prior to the start of the website's design and development. In other words, websites that are not suited to the business model and the target audience are not likely to fulfill their business purpose.

This is entirely different in that if a designer doesn’t understand business how can they ever hope to implement the best solution for a business, how can they interpret what you call a business model and marketing research... the simple answer is they can’t or they cannot as effectively as a designer that can. Or you could interpret what you are saying being the same dog, different leg action.


Such websites may still be suitable for hobbies, educational purposes, or for businesses and organizations that only want a website to provide basic online information rather than act as a marketing vehicle.

I guess our opinions will differ on this... however as with everything once you understand the rules, there are always exceptions... however you need to remember we’re not talking about hobby websites... we’re talking about business websites, and the websites designers generate.


Don't forget nonprofit organizations' websites and government websites, Steve. You may wish to broaden your statement to: “A website should fulfill its intended purpose.”

I’ll stick with my statement thanks... a non-profit organisation just like any other business has to generate funds, they have to pay their wages and cover all of their costs... the only thing that differs between a non-profit and a normal business is the disposal of any profits... the same can be said for government departments and everything else... everyone needs to generate income and the website should play an integral role in this.

vangogh
02-28-2009, 09:28 PM
a non-profit organisation just like any other business has to generate funds, they have to pay their wages and cover all of their costs... the only thing that differs between a non-profit and a normal business is the disposal of any profits... the same can be said for government departments and everything else

For some reason this seems to be lost on many people. Non-profit has never meant no revenue. I suppose that would be a no-revenue if such a thing exists. Non-profits can take in a lot of money and as you pointed out it's what happens to the profit that differentiates it from a for profit business.