Interface Design  | Application Design  | Banner Design  

Web Interface Design

Web designers are sometimes entranced by the bells and whistles. "Add sound [animations, photos, you name it] to your site" sounds nice, but the wav. files and large file sizes are tedious to load, and the consumer is in a hurry to find what he or she is looking for. Fancy pictures don't matter in the long run unless it's a "you have to see it to decide whether to buy" issue, and banners (although nice) take longer to load than text links.

Two banners per page is the maximum I'd recommend. If you must have photos (one of my sites must) then two or three photos per page are all that most people's browsers can handle without slowing down page loading. Frames slow it down even more. Besides, some people have "disabled" frames on their browser preferences because they take too long to load.

My philosophy is this: if you have a lot of material on your web pages, even though your business is great and you have a great product/service, you'll drive customers away rather than attract them. The internet set is very impatient. They'll go on to the next selection on the search engine results. You'll be left by the phone or your computer screen wondering why someone hasn't called or emailed.

If you are looking for a web designer, choose one that offers simple graphics and backgrounds and recommends small file sizes, is up front about cost and time involved, and suits your website to the needs you have. For example: if you are looking to have someone design a personal site, then it's fine to have a few photos, a guestbook, perhaps an e-card service on your site. But if you want to sell something - it makes more sense to give your potential customers the information they want as quickly as possible, without all the extraneous trappings I've already mentioned.

If you think you have the time to learn how to design your own website, I have good news for you. Forgive me "plugging" someone else's business, but I've never regretted the time I've spent on this site: . Check it out for some really great FREE tutorials on web design. Victoria teaches with Netscape Composer (part of Communicator 4.7 and downloadable free), but if you want to use another type of web design interface (such as FrontPage by Microsoft, or even Adobe) she has suggestions on her site as to where you can find good tutorials on creating websites with these applications as well. There's even a section where you can download some free backgrounds and gifs for your site.

If you already have a web site up and running, please do yourself a favor and visit it once in a while. Pretend you're a customer looking for a certain type of product. Try every single one of the links to make sure they work. Can you get to the homepage from every page? Can you get to the order form, from anywhere on your site? Do you have a section on shipping and handling charges (if any apply)? Does your cgi -- if you used interactive forms -- work? (i.e., can you submit a sample order to yourself from the site and have it go through to your email?). Can customers email you with questions?

These are but a few considerations when either choosing a web designer OR designing your own site. There are any number of other considerations. For now, I've just looked at the option of either designing your own site, or finding a website designer to do it for you.

Thanks for reading my short opinion/article. I hope it's been helpful. Next time I might explore the issue of merchant accounts and shipping and handling charges.

Author: Judy Gillis

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