Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Web Design Trap for Newbies

I recently came across a web site design I have seen only once before. This web site was created in whole by a graphic artist. The entire web site was created simply for the appearance -- or the graphic design. The design is very attractive and the graphic artist obviously knew how to create an appealing design.

On the other hand, the graphic artist who created this web site had no idea of what the search engines need in order to identify what the web site is about or what the web pages contain. This web site included e-commerce that was not really part of the web site -- just sort of connected to it. Other than the shopping cart or e-commerce pages, all of the text on every page was completely embedded in a large graphic.

The owner of the site complained that she never made any sales from her web site to anyone other than friends or relatives.

No wonder. Search engines do not read text embedded in graphics or in Flash. As a result, her site would not and could never be found on the Internet by browsers looking the products she was selling.

The lesson here is: make sure that whoever designs your web site is a real WEB DESIGNER who has an online portfolio, references you can check, and some past success you can have confidence in.

Graphic artists can create beautiful looking web sites that no-one can find or use if these web site designs are not coded in a way that works.

On the other hand, program coders often call themselves Web designers as well. Program coders can write Web page code that does almost anything you want, including head-stands, but most coders have no real sense of design style. Again, check references and take a look an a portfolio of work before hiring only a coder to design your web site.

There are many Web designers who can both create a beautiful appealing design, do most of the coding and have enough common sense to contract out whatever is beyond their abilities.

The advice I would offer any Internet Newbie is:
  • ask to see a portfolio. Then study it carefully.
  • ask for references and follow-up with the businesses on the list.
  • arm yourself with some knowledge and learn a bit about Web design by either buying a book or visiting on-line Web design forums.

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