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Road Kill: Good vs. Bad Web Pages

by Fred Black

Never mind the experts, never mind what they taught you in school, and never mind your competitors, put a stake in the ground and define the purpose of your web site. Then make it deliver that functionality. Don't get lost in layers of pretty design or unnecessary technology.

What defines a good web site? Have you ever been on a web site trying to do something that you were supposed to be able to do on that site and couldn't? That's not a good web site then. It doesn't matter how pretty it is, how much time went into the color scheme, or how efficient the JavaScript code is that makes the pretty little rollover buttons, if I can't find what I need, then it's not a good web site, it's a bad web site.

Ok then, what's a bad web site? Have you ever been on a site that looked like a 4th grader made it? Ugly font choices, strange colors, plain links instead of pretty buttons and Flash animation? But, did you find what you were looking for? Did you get the information you were after? If so, it's a good web site.

I can't say it enough: functionality is more important than looks. Let me say it one more time: functionality is more important than looks. People will not stay on a web site that is hard to use, or come back to a web site that does not work. However, your web site can be both functional and good looking; all it takes is proper planning and quite possibly less work than a more complex, over done layout.

Have you ever been driving down a back country road and have a deer run out in front of you? The deer just stands there staring at your headlights and he or she doesn't know which way go. Don't do this to your web site visitors.

Don't present them with 103 choices and flashing lights, buzzers, and whistles when they land on your home page.

Your visitors may never make the choices that you want or that you assume they will. Keep each page focused and simple. Don't make someone work to purchase something from you, it should be easy for them.

One way to create better pages is to minimize the use of packages like Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe GoLive, or DreamWeaver and do more of your coding by hand. Learn enough HTML so that you can start a page in one of these layout packages (if necessary) and then finish and maintain the page in a text or HTML editor. You'll understand your pages better and you'll know how they work. Plus, you can modify them faster.

I've built a lot of sites and it's easier to modify and change the ones that I've coded by hand as opposed to the few that were built entirely in a layout package. Why?

Because layout packages like FrontPage change over time.

When you open a site you created in layout package "x"

version "n" two years later in version "n+1" and it no longer looks like it should, you'll understand why I like to edit my own HTML! Or, when you spend hours trying to get something to line up correctly in a layout package and finally start looking at the HTML code and realize that it's a mess and redo it by hand in half the time without the problems, then you'll understand why I like to edit my own HTML! But the main reason is that once you understand and can edit HTML, it's easy to just do it by hand!

If your site is supposed to sell something then make sure it's focus on is on selling, if it's an information site, then make sure it's focus is on providing information. If you want both, then maybe you should create two sites. Your goal should be clean, simple, and functional web pages that deliver the content or service the web site was intended to provide.

About The Author

Fred Black

Learn How To Make Web Page Scripts and Create Interactive Web Pages, http://www.WebScriptingOnline.com, Created by Fred Black.

Thursday, Apr 5th, 2007