Web design, designing for looks or function?

Web design is one of those black hole elements of webmastering where you can watch large amounts of time and money disappear with nothing left to show for it. To help you make the most of your dollars when getting a site designed or redesigned, here are a few simple tips.

Sites heavy in their use of graphics are next to useless.
Unless of course your business is graphical design, there are three reasons why heavy graphics just don’t cut it for a quality site designed to make money.

  1. Load times.
    If I am looking to spend money and I am cruising the net looking for somewhere to spend it, I am not going to wait 10 minutes for your site to load. Why would I when I just came from a page of Google results of sites offering what I am looking for? I recently redid some sites with almost 1 megabyte of graphics on them.
    While broadband is widespread somewhere between 30% to 40% of surfers are still using, by choice or otherwise, dial up internet. Waiting 4-5 minutes for your page to load is going to lose them.
  2. Bandwidth.
    Unless you’ve spent the money and are on a dedicated server with your own unmetered 100mbps port to the internet, the bandwidth you use is going to be of concern. Consistent high spikes on virtual server account will cause most hosting companies to throttle your account connection to the internet causing your site to load slowly during peak times.
  3. Cost.
    Good flashy graphics cost serious money to have made by experienced designers. It is dead money, as graphics may contribute marginally to your sales success, but it is the quanity, range and quality of the products you offer that are going to make you real money. Amazon is undisputedly THE most successful internet retailer, do you see their site lumbered with graphics that are not to do with the products?

It is absolutely possible to deliver a clean, sharp site for your enterprise that uses next to zero graphics. By being smart in selection of the color palette you use it is possible using a protocol called CSS to add color to your site using a few simple lines of code rather than adding loads of graphics.

If you are marketing on the internet, without question you are striving to break into top rankings with Google and other major search engines. You know about meta tags. You know about keywords. You know about anchor text. You know about backlinking.

Did you know it is possible to feed the search engine spiders quality versus junk depending entirely on how your site is set up?

The importance of table-less design.
When the internet first became “popular” most sites were coded using nested tables. For those of you who don’t understand code, lets just say there was a lot of code between the layout and your content. Think of it as a pass-the-parcel at the start of the game. Layers and layers of paper integral to the game, yet all but one are useless to the end goal – defining the winner by being the last wrapper to be opened.

What table-less design does is strip those layers to one single layer that hides the goodies. This means that your pages are lighter. They load faster. Text renders all over the page rather than systematically as your browser reads and renders the code.

While this is all nice, the real bonus is there is far less rubbish for the Search Engine spiders to wade through to get to your content. Now, many “experts” will tell you this is garbage, but overall more and more “experts” are beginning to agree that having as little code as possible on your pages is beneficial to the way the Search Engines treat you in their results.

Getting your site redesigned so it is table-less or pure CSS.
I have been doing this for some time now. What you get from me is your site recoded into CSS so it is compliant with W3C standard and displays correctly in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera, the 3 most widely used browsers with 97% of internet users using one or the other.

Contact me for a quote on getting your site converted, it isn’t nearly as expensive as you might think. If you are pushing large traffic numbers and paying per Gb on your transfer, we can even work out how long before your investment saves you money.

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