Original, Uniquely Designed Pages
As you will note if you have investigated many Web-design firms, most offer several standard "template" designs from which to choose. This means that, no matter which template you choose, it is very likely that others will have chosen the same template, therefore there will be several other sites that appear nearly identical to yours on the Web. In contrast, each of our designs is created from scratch for the individual client, making a unique one-of-a-kind representation of your company or organization's personality and image. Using standard templates is less time consuming and cheaper, however, we feel that it is far better to take extra time and create individualized websites for each client. Once the basic design is established, we then proceed to build custom templates for interior pages based on that unique design.

The elements on a page (buttons, navigation bars, logos, graphics, etc.) are another area where many Web designers use standardized "library" items, available to the public. As with standard template designs, these elements will be found on many other websites. Our elements, on the other hand, are all designed from scratch by us to suit the particular feel and theme of the unique page or site we are creating. Again, a more time-consuming process, but one that adds to the uniqueness of each individual site.

Getting Around
Regardless of whether your site is large or small, there are three basic rules that apply to designing a website: clarity, simplicity and ease of navigation. And that last one, ease of navigation, is probably the most important. If you walk into a store looking for something, and the store layout is confusing, with no graphic guidance or personnel to help you out, you may just leave without ever locating what you came for. Likewise, if you visit a website and cannot easily see how to find what you want, or you get stuck somewhere on a page with no navigation tools to take you elsewhere, you are very liable to leave the site without ever even knowing that they offered exactly what you were looking for. And the double whammy is that you will probably never go back to that site because of the confusion and frustration you first encountered. We personally know people who have simply given up and refuse to even use the Web anymore because of bad initial experiences. Consequently, it is very important that a website be carefully planned, structured and designed before it goes online publicly.

The Art Of The Matter
Attractive graphic presentations are also important, however, art or photos should never be used for their attractiveness alone; they should always tell a story. When accompanied by clearly composed promotional or explanatory prose, graphics can trigger subliminal switches in the mind of the viewer that will enhance the message and, perhaps even connect with visitors and potential customers in ways that help to persuade them to stick around and investigate further.

Animations and Flash movies, on the other hand, can be done simply for their visual and audible impact, especially on sites that are attempting to convey an image, rather than simply sell products or services. Examples of image sites might be those for product manufacturers who do not actually sell directly to the public; services such as banks, attorneys, CPAs, etc., whose primary interest is creating trust in the minds of visitors; and organizations, whose goal is to convey philosophical concepts that might entice new members or lead to donations and support. When considering multimedia presentations, however, always be aware of . . .

The Long Wait
Though many Web designers revel in their ability to create beautiful, complex, Flash-animated websites (we love it), efficiency in Web design is far more important than trying to wow visitors with a lot of flashy visuals, sound, etc. What many Web designers and others with cable or DSL connections do not realize is that the majority of people now using the Web do not have high-speed access (at last check, only about 40% do), and most of these fancy sites take far too long to load for visitors to hang around and wait for the show. This means that, right off the bat, they are losing a large number of visitors before the site even has the chance to make its full presentation. There is also the often-ignored fact that millions of people are getting online for the very first time every year, and that many of them have no idea how to deal with websites, especially if the sites are complex, confusing and slow as molasses.

Of course, if your product or service is geared toward an upscale or high-tech clientele, then a more graphically-rich and animated site may be fine, as most visitors in these categories are likely to already have high-speed Internet connections and are used to visiting sites with a lot of the "Wow!" factor built into their designs. For more on multimedia presentations see our section on Animation And Sound Effects.

These are just a few of the basic rules and conceptual variations we take into consideration when suggesting a particular approach to the design of a website. Now lets move on to some more specific elements in structure and planning for a website of any size or complexity.

 

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