Free & Cheap Web Design
Would you let the electrician pull your tooth just because he has pliars?
Then don’t let your nephew make your company website just because he has Dreamweaver!
I am sure you have all been flooded recently with websites for only R350. Or build your own site for free using XYZ software. And then you proceed to use such a service and your site does not rank. You see, there is a big difference between building a site and building a site to actually work. Anyone can build a website. Let me repeat that – ANYONE can build a website. There are so many software programs available that will enable anyone, regardless of their technology level to build a nice website with just a few clicks of the button.
The issue begins once the site is done and is now supposed to be working. Then, once we look at a site like that we start with the coding structure – is the site HTML heavy or not? Is it cross browser compatible? Does it use CSS or not? And the list goes on and on. And the issue is, in 99% of the cases we get, we have to completely redesign the site so that it’s structure is correct in order for it to rank in the Search Engines.
But still people are penny wise and pound foolish – they choose graphic designers to design their websites – people with no knowledge of the search engines and ranking, because the client wants a flashy website. Or they choose designers with little or no experience of the Internet. They end up paying peanuts and the results are mostly disastrous.
So, how can you avoid design mistakes? I found this article that endorses what I have said above, and that will help you avoid pitfalls. [Deon Coetzee, April 2011]
Avoid Web Design Mistakes Easily
The planning phase of web design gives your site a good foundation. It is easy to avoid serious web design mistakes by taking adequate time in the planning phase. Your site will be much more powerful if you avoid making these design mistakes.
It is difficult to know the usual pitfalls without having adequate experience. I am listing a number of the most common web design mistakes to help you avoid these pitfalls.
One big mistake in web design is in choosing the wrong domain name. Do not choose a domain name until you have done some initial planning. Avoid choosing a domain name that appeals to you because it is cute or because it contains your name. The domain name should match the keywords of your site.
What is the main thing you want to do with your site? Are you selling something or offering a service? If so, then choose keywords based on your product or service.
If you are selling shoes choose keywords based on the type of shoes you are selling. Then pick a domain name that matches the keywords of your site. If your keywords are about basketball and baseball shoes then your domain should relate directly to basketball and baseball shoes.
If you are fortunate enough to obtain the domain name that is exactly the name of your product you will do really well. For instance “http://www.nike.com” would be the best domain name that anyone could have in selling Nike shoes.
Don’t settle for the name “http://www.sams-shoe-shack.com”. Get a domain name that is more specific.
Buy a domain name that contains something about basketball shoes. Avoid hyphenated domain names if possible. It is possible to fix a website with the wrong domain name but if you spend too much time with the wrong one it will become difficult to change.
Many people use a free template to make their site. Avoid the mistake of forcing your site into a template which does not work for it. Make sure that the template has enough sidebars and content areas to suit what you are doing.
Some templates have four or five different pages for different types of data. A page can work fine for articles but not so well for blog posts. If the template that you like does not suit the purposes of your data and message move on.
Don’t compromise the vision and message of your site in exchange for a graphic design that you like. If you really like a template and it doesn’t fit your data you may find a web designer who would modify it for a reasonable amount.
Don’t use site templates or designs which squeeze content into areas where it does not fit. Break lengthy articles up and continue them on another page. Long flowing pages which cause a lot of scrolling are not good.
Use a “read more button” and link it to another page. Use nice margins that space the data nicely. Wall to wall content, that which runs from the left edge of the screen to the right edge is the worst thing in my opinion.
Find out how to introduce margins in your pages and use them religiously. There is no hurry to lump all of your data into a page or two. Space it out so that it is nice and presentable.
Be careful of using old templates or WYSIWYG editors which produce an old style HTML. Before 1997 web pages contained tags that gave style to each line. The same font tag appeared repeatedly in each section of the document. This took a lot of work and made web pages heavy and bloated.
Cascading Style Sheets came with HTML 4. Cascading Style Sheets allow for the styling of an entire page by attaching a style sheet. The use of style sheets replaced the need for the repeated use of font tags. This makes the changing of background colors, or font sizes possible throughout the site in an instant.
A website built with HTML 3 or without a style sheet would be a big mistake. Check into the type of HTML used by your template or editor. If it does not use Cascading Style Sheets move on to another one.
Avoid using Flash to build your website. Flash is a technology produced by Macromedia Corporation. Flash uses nice looking graphics, sound and animation to make some great looking sites. Software is available that allows even the newest amateur to create Flash websites.
The trouble with Flash sites is that they don’t do so well with the Search Engines. In a Flash site a Shockwave file contains all of your data. The articles and content that you add are visible to people browsing the site but not to the search engine. The search engine sees the Flash as an object. Thus there is nothing for the search engine to use to rank your site with. It is acceptable to use Flash to make great animation in small areas of your site.
A small Flash object in the sidebar will not hurt anything. An entire site made from Flash will not work so well for you if it is necessary to have good ranking on Google or Bing.
Avoid using images and graphics that are not optimized for the web. High resolution photos intended for printing are not optimized for the web.
These high-resolution photos weigh a lot. Digital cameras produce photos, now, which can weigh as much as 3 to 5 megabytes. That is entirely too heavy for use on a web page. Photo editing programs such as Photoshop and Gimp have features for optimizing photos for the web.
Spending a little time to learn to optimize photos will pay great dividends. Pages that have a lot of heavy images may lose a lot of visitors. People are not patient on the web anymore.
Avoid using copyrighted material on your site. You can get in a lot of trouble by using content and images that belong to someone else.
All material that people post on their websites has copyright protection. You may find that you can get permission to use some things by contacting the website owner.
There are a lot of sites which offer free images and graphics to use on your site. Some article directories allow for the use of articles contributed by their members if you follow some guidelines.
Free templates are available on many sites in exchange for a link back to the author. Follow the rules for copyright and you will not run into any discouraging legal trouble.
These are the biggest mistakes for a web designer. Many of us learn our greatest lessons from making our own mistakes. It is better not to make mistakes if we can learn from the mistakes of others. By avoiding these mistakes your first websites will be more efficient and powerful.
About the Author: Greg Nicholl – Web design is a complex process involving many important steps. Online and desktop wizards help you make a nice looking site without taking care of the important hidden factors. The hidden features add all the power to your site. The hidden factors, which are unknown to most beginners, help you get more traffic to your site and more customers. Imagine the frustration of learning how to make a website and finding that it wasn’t reaching its goal of getting customers. Since your site is such an important part of your business you should have a professional help you make a good start. Greg Nicholl is a qualified Website Designer offering Great Linux Hosting.