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Design is only skin deep

 1:18 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you can't provide information -- most of which is text -- then you can forget good design.

1) Be consistent in color and navigation
2) Few graphics...people get bored with it after the second time
3) No banner ads
4) FAQ, About Us, Contact
5) Site is not general but subject specific
6) A title in your home page stating what you're all about
7) Nothing that blinks or moves
8) Don't lead the customer on...no surprises...say it upfront
9) Be honest and follow through on what's promised
10) Have a suggestion box
11) Nothing old, daily updates if possible
12) Giving something of value for free, because when it comes to selling, it'll be much easier when you ask for the sale



 11:04 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

Question: Why put a "Coke Is It!" banner alongside the Mona Lisa? If your Website is your masterpiece, why destroy its integrity?

Brilliant, just brilliant!

NeoSys -- you are a superior intellectual being.


 11:12 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

biggest bunch of BS

I liked the alliteration. Itīs almost as good as Camilleīs Behind the baffling bevy of beautiful boys [archive.salon.com] or the lamentable lack of luscious lads these days which one ought to query Camille about :).



 11:39 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)


Pretty precocious poster, you are! :)


 1:11 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't agree that what was posted regarding banners was BS; it's also what I've seen frequently as some of the ways to boost CTR.

I think there's a problem instead with these sweeping generalizations and the tendency to say it worked for my site, so it has to work for everyone else's.

I agree, blinking (strobing, more like it) banners are annoying x 10, but banner ads can be both beneficial to users and prove profitable to webmasters.

Example: I wrote an article many months ago with tips for the new small business webmaster for choosing a hosting company. It was a pretty detailed article, and on that same page I had my affiliate banner for Jumpline (the company that hosted that particular site as well). That pulled decent results.

I also bought banner advertising (for my banner design site, which I no longer promote) on a template site and I had good results .

It's simply a matter of matching up what is being sold to where it's being sold. That allows you to give the user something of value and allows you to make a little money as well.

Both of those campaigns worked well because the visitor to the site was already interested in what I was selling and, in the case of the article, got information he was seeking.

A banner ad for glitter nail polish for toy poodles isn't going to pull well on a site that features an article about the use of a therapeutic contact lenses in the treatment of corneal abrasion, but that's just plain common sense. The rules don't change that much for advertising online do they? You'd never dream in the "real world" of advertising your cross-stitch kits in Popular Mechanics would you? So why would you do the equivalent online (even if you can buy banner ads for $0.02 CPM on eBay:))


 1:21 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Proffering potentially profitable pontifications needn't preclude the posting of precocious pun padded parlance purely for pedantic pleasure. ;)


 2:18 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Pardon potential pontificative (?) post; poster parts providing pagespace for previous progression of pointless periodicities. Please proceed.


 3:10 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Pardon potential pontificative (?) post; poster parts providing pagespace poop (pardon pun) previously put progressive points of pointless periodicities. Please proceed


 3:11 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

couldn't figure out how to get rid of "of".


 3:20 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Kidding aside, I rarely see sites with ad banners related to their topic...not even close. If you really want to help your users find other resources, why not give them a simple text link? It's much less obtrusive.


 4:37 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

me neither


 4:42 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)


I wholeheartedly agree.

Lots of times you see advertising that has nothing whatsoever to do with the site content. Useless.

Why give them banners? As someone said previously, it's a "picture's worth a thousand words" thing.

Example: "To purchase a pair of Nikes with the patented blah, blah, blah, blah-contstructed sole, exclusive blah technology, click here" - OR - Banner ad [see cool shoes, want them, click, buy].

Not applicable in every situation, but certainly not worthless.



 6:00 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

From my personal experience - I have all but the suggestion box (although there is a specific disc. forum for this).

As for the banner add part, I have watched two huge online communities "fold" with banner adds. The primary concerns of the community members were too much marketing and commercials i.e. banners.

Now, I make no money, and have no income on this community site, but it flurishes without it. As a matter of fact, it is one of its key "selling" points.


 7:26 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

hmm... A good example: for the use of banners, which IMHO if you're not using them you are missing out.

WebmasterWorld "donate" button is simple, but none-the-less "a banner".

The fact all the forums are "free" on a simple registration means this resource is much like a non-commercial site , but still there are costs associated with providing such a resource (as with any community site). Eat the cost don't eat the cost - this isn't the issue.

The fact that the "donate button" resides on all pages including this particularly forum - Browsers, HTML, and Web Page Design and these pages are not normally about "how to donate" or "donating" suggests providing members (vice just visitors) an opportunity to help WebmasterWorld remain as a "free resource" as well as remaining free of more intrusive banners as an alternative revenue stream.

Not using banners may indeed be right for you, however this generally does not reflect all of your markets needs, want, or concerns nor all markets needs, wants, or concerns.

Case in point - how many members would refuse to particate in this forum (or any forum) if they had no option - "pay for view" nothing for free.

It seems to me that this banner works quite find.

Many members have donated allowing WebmasterWorld is continue "as is" and the banner also offers these individuals "that clicked" added-value - the benefit of the private forum - for which the non-donating membership population have no such access.

Although this non-donating membership population may be high - I suspect that number would drop significatly if "paid-per-view" only.

Globbing all banner as bad and adding:

I have watched two huge online communities "fold" with banner ads.

may be persuasive dialogue to some members not to seek out these opportunities...

But you are using this forum right now because this particular BANNER DOES WORK! ;)

adding... companies generally fold because of bad planning or bad management - not bad banners.


 3:18 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

The ex-members who migrated to my community clearly indicated they were tired of banners, slide in scripts, pop-down graphics adds, and pop-unders.

Indeed most companies fold because of bad management and planning. That would put bad banner deployment right in there...

I do not consider Webmasterworld's "donate" button an advertising banner. Of course we have not qualified "banners" as advertising banners, or take it even a step further -- a foreign domain advertising banner. Foreign domain, as in the banner does not advertise self, but someone elses product or service.

I do not believe banners are completely bad, I just think NeoSys's rule, albeit modified, banners are "in general" are not as benefitial to sites as alternative solutions, holds true.

So I would replace that rule with -
3 No banner ads, unless you have researched all alternative solutions and none fit.


 4:27 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

3 No banner ads, unless you have researched all alternative solutions and none fit.

I agree with a certain part of that statement.

3. unless you have thoroughly researched your markets and understand what motives them - the use of banner ads is not recommended.


 2:45 pm on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

oh no guys, neosys has figured out the secret. almost everyone advertising on the net has no clue what they're doing (shh).

If you have time to even think about this, then don't you have time to source some topic-specific ads for your pages? Maybe even weed out the ones with low ctr's after a couple k of impressions?

wanted to join in the alliteration fun but..
I've lost my lust for prose and Proust
those lackadaisical longings left as promptly as presented.

ok, maybe I'll go make some of my own banners (here's a hint, the words 'click here', still freaking work).


 3:32 pm on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Fiver wrote:
(here's a hint, the words 'click here', still freaking work)

As fathom said -
researched your markets and understand what motives them
my market does not 'click here'...

Back to NeoSys's rules, #12 works for my target market.


 8:58 pm on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

As fathom said - researched your markets and understand what motives them

my market does not 'click here'...

yes and I was backing his point, many markets do 'click here' (I'm certain that's especially true with poor page design, which i think started this thread) - but it's deadly important to not discard old advertising techniques under the assumption that they're ineffective, just because they're old. This isn't the computer industry, it's the marketing industry.

Banners fall into that category, I can't tell you how many people i know in the Internet marketing industry that spout 'banners are not effective anymore', and every time I tell them, no they can be, but you just can't put a banner for computer parts on a website about gardening and think you're learning anything looking at the numbers.

my point in mentioning 'click here' still works, is that it does, in a great number of areas. The majority of emerging online markets are simply the extension of the present land-based industry, and with that base it brings customers who happen to be novice computer users.

If you're only interested in computer savvy users, then ya, I'd agree... but if you want the rest of the market...


 10:45 pm on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

The results of actual first hand testing is the only metric that matters.

Broad sweeping generalizations are only valuable as pointers to which things are worth testing.


 11:03 pm on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Entering a web site for the first time is dis-orienting.

...just because you know where to click - doesn't mean everyone else does.

My points thus far have been generalizations, here are some that are not.

In the first 6 months after Amazon.com opened Amazon.ca and placed the banner "pop-up" on Amazon.com;

3.4 million people clicked on it. If we assume these were all Canadians that's 38.6% of the on-line Canadian market. (pretty good understanding of their market diversity IMHO). In addition, if you were an existing US customer with an account (and cookie) the banner wouldn't appear.

E-bay Adwords on Google (banners) produce an average 10,000 click throughs per day (you really got to wonder why they have so many, when they don't work).

FutureShop (computers, software, electronics, music,etc.) use banners to promote "discounts", "end-of-line sales", and "general online reduced pricing". These out-perform in store promotions by a factor of 2:1. (although I personally don't care for their visual effects, they seem to perform quite well).

There are right ways and wrong ways to use banners, obviously the difference of opinions are also defined by this line.

I will agree that if all of your web site traffic has been contacted and all return visitors say "don't do it", and you don't get a flux of new visitors... you shouldn't.

If you don't like banners - that's fine - my posts are meant to assist those that are undecided.


 11:30 pm on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

This debate about the pros and cons of banners is missing an important fundamental... namely, is your visitor traffic targeted or random?

A case history: A destination guide site targets traffic searcing for combinations of country name and all the usual tourism terms.

When those targeted visitors arrive on the site they are offered banners that relate to the topics that brought them to the site in the first place.. travel, tours, lodgings, vacations etc.

The visitor should be able to tell by a single glance at the banner if the product is what they after... standard of lodging, adventure or armchair tour, small group personal or large group tours, budget or luxury...

In this particular case, banners get an average click through ratio of 1:10 across the whole site.

Banners are very effective when the visitor has an interest in the product being shown... but if that key element is missing, then banners are just screen debris.


 8:15 pm on Dec 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

>Be consistent in color and navigation
Totally agree
>Few graphics...people get bored with it after the second time
Depends on the site, depends if you want them a second time
>No banner ads
Again depends on the site, I'm inclined to leave em there while there making money. I also use my banners to promote new products on related sites
>Nothing old, daily updates if possible
You mean docunment.write Date() :)

I think most of what your saying does makes sense, but you make a lot of assumptions, the web is way too varied to have one static model of what a site should or shouldnt do. It just all depends on the site..


 8:28 pm on Dec 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

My take on this thread's premise is that there is often too much attention paid to design aesthetics (which are, in the end, quite subjective) and that comes at the expense of short-changing other aspects of site development.

I agree whole-heartedly.

A new redesign client just came onboard with us last week, and the common struggle began again. They wanted to see 3 prototype designs within a week and needed lots of cajoling to appreciate the need for up-front Information Architecture work. This site is aiming for several thousand pages - the "look" will not be the make-or-break success factor.

It's a common error - people think about websites as if they were a magazine ad and want to be visually impressed. The more lasting effects of good architecture and navigation (which certainly affect the design) as well as good writing and editing -- these are seen as somehow secondary, when they are absolutely primary.


 8:19 am on Dec 12, 2002 (gmt 0)
I was thinking just this yesterday. Someone told me my site is obnoxious. Maybe black bg + yellow hyperlink + lots of red graphic button was turning people on. It's all too late now because swarm of people visited the site after the record label mentioned it on their mailing list, but now; they are all *g o n e*

So I am wondering if I could see an example of good low graphic, more text, nothing blinking website.

The other thing is that my website let people download videos and it needs a preview picture of the video. To show exactly kind of video picture quality they get, I have to put 10 each 10k preview per show. How may I get around this problem?


 11:22 am on Dec 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

So I am wondering if I could see an example of good low graphic, more text, nothing blinking website.

hmmm... Low graphics, more text, nothing blinking website?

WebmasterWorld seems like a good choice here.

The other thing is that my website let people download videos and it needs a preview picture of the video. To show exactly kind of video picture quality they get, I have to put 10 each 10k preview per show. How may I get around this problem?

Smaller icons with pop-up?


 11:37 am on Dec 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

"WebmasterWorld seems like a good choice here."

Yah, but then It's more like a forum site and not looking like a rock band site...

"Smaller icons with pop-up?"

May I drive you crazy by asking how to make pop up window that shows preview pictures?

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