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Design is only skin deep

     
1:18 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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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

1:35 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Good points.

All of the above leads to the illusive site stickyness factor that we all reach for. I also agree that web surfers are getting tired of images. They seam to be after content, and good content at that.

No banner ads<<

not sure about this one. On a site that doesnt sell anything then banners are the only source of revenue (along with text links) I think sometimes the lack of banners is a bad thing, simply because the surfer is used to seeing them.

2:16 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Mack,

I've been thinking about banner ads for the last three years. My conclusion is: a BIG NO! Many will disagree with me on this but many ads don't pertain to your site. Plus, if you're taking all the time, sweat and trouble (the most expensive aspects of your site despite no "dollars" attach to them) to build the site, you don't want your hard-earned visitors to click on some bozo ad banner. If you want to do it, do it right. It's like having a library (since you mentioned sites that don't sell anything) and putting a trans-portal in the biography section to take your patrons to K-mart. Doesn't make any sense.

2:26 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Agree with mack on banners.

Research surveys maintain the banners are effective if:

1. they serve the interest of the visitor.

2. best positioned page center top.

3. are customer focused vice company focused.

4. are objective in there meaning vice promotional, and

5. and not centered on hype.

lastly static banners have shown to produce more than animated ones, and should look like it BELONGS on the page vice CUT & PASTED IN.

2:30 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Fathom,

That's the biggest bunch of BS I have heard in a long time.

2:35 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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*raised eyebrows* Actually fathom's post agrees with most banner research I've read, and with my observations of new surfer behaviour when teaching internet use.
2:45 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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you don't want your hard-earned visitors to click on some bozo ad banner.

Good advice. Avoid all bozo ad banners and only use the ones that are in your best interest and work for you. ;)

lawman

2:53 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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NeoSys wrote: Fathom, That's the biggest bunch of BS I have heard in a long time.

You are welcome to believe that if you like.

On the other hand might I suggest some light reading on the subject.

Software Usability Research Lab
Dept of Psychology
Wichita State University
Updated November 5, 2002

Criteria for optimal web design [psychology.wichita.edu] (designing for usability).

Keep in mind that a "banner" is effectively a small web page on a web page. If banners are totally BS I would also say in that case - web pages are BS as well.

Your point 12) Giving something of value for free, because when it comes to selling, it'll be much easier when you ask for the sale. Isn't this really a banner.

Or would the entire page and/or site be about something free.

[edited by: fathom at 3:02 am (utc) on Dec. 1, 2002]

3:00 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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NeoSys, I can design my sites however I like. We all judge by our own conversions and traffic. Therefore, I follows those judgements, not yours ;)
3:03 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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even without the research I think common sence says it all.

Banners if used correctly can be both unobtrusive to the user and beneficial to the site owner.

I recon 95% of the web uses banners, surely they can't all be wrong

also I dont think we do the "flaming" thing on here. opinions yes, forcing opinions no.

3:06 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Hmmm. Sorry you disagree but those I listed worked for me. First hand experience beats vacuum studies anyday.
3:16 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Personally I place a banner on very high traffic pages about a specific topic, top center, hidden and time activated.

I personally do not want those the quickly "skim" a page to be bothered by the banner. Typically skimmers are hit and run "I need info" and not normally interested in any ad.

But after 40 (or what analysis has shown) seconds the banner appears, replacing a portion of the title bar.

Over 50% of all sales come found these banners, and the general web site population (quick info only visitors) are also quite happy since they believe the site is banner free.

What it comes down to is knowing your markets and marketing to each distinction effectively.

[edited by: fathom at 5:46 am (utc) on Dec. 1, 2002]

3:17 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Vacuum studies aside... I have first hand experience with banner campaigns that have out-pulled the industry average by over 1000% and delivered a *very* handsome ROI.

Like any other form of marketing, it is all about putting the right message, in front of the right person, at the right time.

Provide all three without mis-direction and you can deliver value to all parties involved... advertiser, webmaster, and site visitor.

3:19 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Criteria for optimal web design (designing for usability)

And, still, that site doesn't have frames (of which it writes too) nor a banner add. They know better and keep their site mostly clean and simple :)

<added>I retract about the frames. I liked it better when I didn't knew... :)</added>

3:30 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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NeoSys - stickymail me with one of your websites with a suggestion box.
3:32 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Like any other form of marketing, it is all about putting the right message, in front of the right person, at the right time.

A perfect statement Dante_Maure.

I have myself gotten lost in a site and left the site simply because I could find exactly what I was looking for (not because they didn't have it).

If your selling something and don't help visitors (regardless of what door they come in on) to find that something, what is the point.

And, still, that site doesn't have ... a banner ad.

But you went looking for one...

I don't think they are selling anything, purely research.

3:35 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Jon_King...

dont even go there :)

I really think we have to agree to disagree on this one. Banners work, on the right type of site. Perhaps there are types of sites where banners are totaly inapropriate.

3:37 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Hey, if I offended anyone, I apologize. The point is, techniques can only get you so far...the real engine of a Website is the valuable information. I spend most of my day developing, not promoting because my visitors do that for me with very little effort.
3:41 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I think youre right about the content. Thats what sels a site, thats what gets you links, thats what draws people to your site. but if you dont sell anything, and dont have any revenue stream then you are just pouring good money down the drain. Users understand banners, they dont make a lot but they do go towards site running costs. I think there is a balence. so long as you dont tip the balllence your users are happy to see ads, it's when you start to deceive the user and make them feel uncumfortable, they leave.
3:47 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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7) Nothing that blinks or moves

I understand the blinking but why not movement. Web pages are a specific media. Movement can draw the eye to important information. If the movement loops forever then it loses its effectiveness, but used well it can improve useability.

I think you need to specify that you are refering to information sites. I agree with your list for sites that are for general search information on a subject. Most web applications that have specific uses are all completely different.

3:48 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Hey, if I offended anyone, I apologize. The point is, techniques can only get you so far...the real engine of a Website is the valuable information. I spend most of my day developing, not promoting because my visitors do that for me with very little effort.

No offence taken. The value of open discussions is learning... and we all need to do that.

I totally agree that - "the real engine of a Website is the valuable information"

But a simply truth is, totally free information and the only focus of "free" provides limited revenue, and for a commercial business limited revenue is bad... for both you and your customers, as unethical business practices generally start this way.

Noting: information may drive the web but a link to a product for resell on a primarily informative site is no different than a banner which also links to something for resell.

The perspective may be different but the results is the same.

3:58 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I understand the blinking but why not movement. Web pages are a specific media. Movement can draw the eye to important information. If the movement loops forever then it loses its effectiveness, but used well it can improve useability.

I think you need to specify that you are refering to information sites. I agree with your list for sites that are for general search information on a subject. Most web applications that have specific uses are all completely different.

hmmm... I believe that both have merits, and that repetition is the problem.

Any looping of anything IMO is bad.

However, I found a site that had an owl top left (corporate logo) that winked once per minute.

Out of the corner of my eye I caught the effect but wasn't sure what it was... and stare at it until it did it again.

Mind you... other than "for kicks" I couldn't do anything with it.

4:05 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Another point I would like to state is graphics or pictures are very valueable to useability and readability. Pictures say a thousand words. If you are sharing information on a topic pictures can enhance the understanding. I have found that pictures can express enough information about the subject that makes it easier for people to absorb the meaning. Most of the population is visually oriented. Pictures can help retention of information.

However, I found a site that had an owl top left (corporate logo) that winked once per minute.

Out of the corner of my eye I caught the effect but wasn't sure what it was... and stare at it until it did it again.

Excellent marketing use. Just think if it was used to let you know about changes to privacy policies, terms of service, or account information.

5:04 am on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Just think if it was used to let you know about changes to privacy policies, terms of service, or account information.

;) :) ;)

Another point I would like to state is graphics or pictures are very valueable to useability and readability. Pictures say a thousand words. If you are sharing information on a topic pictures can enhance the understanding. I have found that pictures can express enough information about the subject that makes it easier for people to absorb the meaning. Most of the population is visually oriented. Pictures can help retention of information.

Yup! Plain language text can accomplish alot when it comes to simple understanding.

Graphics, imagery, animations, movies and other dynamic content has enormous value.

My rule of thumb... anything that is "too" big, small, fast, slow, high, deep, and anything else that requires too many words to effectively cover the subject can be done more effectively with the above.

8:21 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I think sometimes the lack of banners is a bad thing, simply because the surfer is used to seeing them.

I disagree, who would ever think:
"I'm not going to use this web site as there is no banner ad"
(If they notice) they would be pleasantly surprised that there isn't. Do you think it's bad amazon doesn't have banner ads?
Banner ads almost always detract in some way from a user's experience.

I always err on the side of caution when considering a banner ad.
If you're mostly commercial, 99% of the time it's unprofessional and tacky. If you're a mainly commercial site and you're losing money then something else is going on that a banner ad won't fix.

The biggest problem imo, is a lot of ads are integrated into the primary navigation (or even above the primary nav). How many sites do you see wasting space with (almost always ignored) banner ads in the primary navigation?

Still, banner ads need to be used sometimes - I agree with that. There are a lot of sites that use them (definitely some of the contributors to this thread :)). As already stated, there's a lot of variables to consider such as where it's located, content and quality of a banner ad.

What I've found interesting lately is that a number of sites are copying Google's example with very targetted but unobtrusive text only ads.

8:38 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I manage one site that uses banners for other features on their own site. The targeting couldn't be better, and we see lots of traffic hopping around this way.

On the animation side of this discussion, subtle animation can do wonders -- especially if it mimics real world movement (such as the winking owl). One of the most successful banners we created used a short testimonial phrase, followed by a signature which "wrote itself" in below.

I also agree that large elements that flash, blink, spin, etc. are the graphic equivalent of all caps with eleven exclamation marks. They just don't work and the look very cheap and tacky.

They also make it difficult to read anything else on the page, so the only result is "I'm outta here!"

9:45 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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It's important to remember the focus of a banner (on the commercial side) is to bring attention to your wares, products, services or the one thing that actually makes you "commercially viable".

This is just another perspective thing... "I have a thousand pages of informative content and only sell one product. I don't use any banners, and I never will but I do very good with sales".

How did those buyers find that product to buy... there has to be something that motivated them to follow the link.

What is exactly behind that banner... a link, same thing.

Tone it up a notch with a graphical button, a rollover, or keep low key with a simple text anchor, or seek out those things that actually motive your markets to look on the other side.

Banners work exceptional well, but most of us equate "a banner" to being that flash, bang, whiz, pop, never realizing it is that one (or more) thing(s) that your markets equate precisely to quality... quality of product, service, support, or whatever that may be.

10:10 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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So mack sez...


I think youre right about the content. Thats what sels a site, thats what gets you links, thats what draws people to your site. but if you dont sell anything, and dont have any revenue stream then you are just pouring good money down the drain.

Good money? Depends on how you look at it... Altruism still lives! Crass capitalism sucks! My site is purely non-commerical - purely informational. Don't make me figure out how much the site has cost over the years ;) - especially since tangible site revenue consists of two bottles of hot sauce sent as a gift from some appreciative visitors. :)

Other revenue? That warm, fuzzy feeling I get when someone thanks me for the free assistance I've provided... Also, I've got a number of places to stay for free around the world - if only I can get there to take advantage. ;)

So to me, it's not good money down the drain... I've spent it on building my self-esteem & to pay future hotel bills! Haha! :)

And korkus2000 sez...


Another point I would like to state is graphics or pictures are very valueable to useability and readability. Pictures say a thousand words.

And pictures/graphics are language-neutral; For me, they "speak" English. I don't have to speak Japanese to appreciate a picture of Mount Fuji...

10:19 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Question: Why put a "Coke Is It!" banner alongside the Mona Lisa? If your Website is your masterpiece, why destroy its integrity?
10:45 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Leonardo worked for Cesare Borgia... not such a good example.
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