A nice article on design and hosting

The Internet is a good place if you want to look at some beautiful design. There are thousands of websites that have managed to create something beautiful out of nothing. And then there are those sites that have managed to do the exact opposite.

With this in mind we thought that it was about time that we published an article with common mistakes as well as tips on the best ways to design a great website. However, before we get into any details do have to mention that web design and hosting go hand in hand. You simply will not be able to create a stabile website without supreme hosting so make sure that you only get the best web hosting services.

Common Mistakes

Overusing bandwidth

If you have partnered up with a solid web host you probably will not have any issues with the bandwidth but it still causes problems for some sites that have heavy graphics. Important to remember is that will not only have to think about your bandwidth – heavy graphics can be troubling for people with poor Internet connection.

Complex graphics

Avoid complex graphics, such as Flash. It may happen that your site will not get indexed by search engine spiders if you do and we can promise you that your visitors will not like the idea of having to download a plugin to be able to see your site.

Poor navigation

Remember that less is more on the web. If a website is too cluttered, with links and images, you can count on your visitors not knowing what to do and hence clicking out instead.

Tips on what to do

Create pages

One of the best ways to increase the authority of your website is in increasing the number of pages. More pages will get indexed by search engines and it will also increase the chances of inbound links. Remember though what we said above – keep it user-friendly and easily navigated.

Remember internal linking

When designing a website is, as you probably understand by now, not only important to design the site with the search engines in mind – the visitors are just as important. Link within your content so that your visitors easily can navigate back and forth.

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Web 2.0 ‘distracts good design’

Hype about Web 2.0 is making web firms neglect the basics of good design, web usability guru Jakob Nielsen has said. He warned that the rush to make webpages more dynamic often meant users were badly served.

He said sites peppered with personalisation tools were in danger of resembling the “glossy but useless” sites at the height of the dotcom boom.

Research into website use shows that sites were better off getting the basics right, said Mr Nielsen.

User tests

Describing Web 2.0 as the “latest fashion”, Mr Nielsen said many sites paying attention to it were neglecting some of the principles of good design and usability established over the last decade.

Good practices include making a site easy to use, good search tools, the use of text free of jargon, usability testing and a consideration of design even before the first line of code is written.

Sadly, said Mr Nielsen, the rush to embrace Web 2.0 technology meant that many firms were turning their back on the basics.

“They should get the basics right first,” he said. “Sadly most websites do not have those primary things right.”

Most people just want to get in, get it and get out

Jakob Nielsen

There was a risk, he said, of a return to the dotcom boom days when many sites, such as Boo.com, looked great but were terrible to use.

“That was just bad,” he said. “The idea of community, user generated content and more dynamic web pages are not inherently bad in the same way, they should be secondary to the primary things sites should get right.”

“The main criticism or problem is that I do not think these things are as useful as the primary things,” he said.

Well-established patterns of user involvement with sites also led Mr Nielsen to question the sense of adopting Web 2.0 technologies.

Research suggests that users of a site split into three groups. One that regularly contributes (about 1%); a second that occasionally contributes (about 9%); and a majority who almost never contribute (90%).

By definition, said Mr Nielsen, only a small number of users are likely to make significant use of all the tools a site provides.

While some sites with particular demographics, such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo, have large involved communities of users that will not hold true for all sites, he said.

“Most people just want to get in, get it and get out,” said Mr Nielsen. “For them the web is not a goal in itself. It is a tool.”

Web firms rushing to serve the small, committed minority might find they make a site far less useful to the vast majority who come to a site for a specific purpose.

Mr Nielsen also questioned championing teenage use of the web as a harbinger of what people will continue to do when they were older.

Although people in their late 30s make very different use of the web to those in their teens, Mr Nielsen expects that when those teenagers grow up the time they spend online will diminish.

“It’s because they are 20 years old that they act differently to 40-year-olds,” said Mr Nielsen.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6653119.stm

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Adobe to offer Free Photoshop “Online”

Hoping to get a jump on Google and other competitors, Adobe Systems plans to release a hosted version of its popular Photoshop image-editing application within six months, the company’s chief executive said Tuesday.

The online service is part of a larger move to introduce ad-supported online services to complement its existing products and broaden the company reach into the consumer market, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen told CNET News.com.

Full Story at CNET News.com 

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XHTML column frameworks

Paul Evans has an very nice post on Column Structures for Websites. Nicely written and something which designers should keep in mind as well. Click on the link below to know more about the Column Frameworks
XHTML Column Frameworks

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Spot a Bad Directory the easy way!

This probably has been discussed many times in various discussion forums and each time the “answer” seems to vary depending on the forum it is posted in or by the replies it gets.

Being a owner of some directories, i get to “meet” many directories almost on a regular basis – whether through forums or via submissions to my directories. And i dont approve all directories and as a matter of fact, all submissions as well. I spend time reviewing each and every website based on certain guidelines which i have.

Here are some of the guidelines i follow for web directories.

This is not the complete list, Just the basic stuff which should help you.

  • Whether the Template is a Free Template or a custom made – If the owner is not serious enough about his directory, then it will mostly be a free template. Not that i have an issue with it, but when someone creates something, he/she would like it to be unique. Its the same principle with the directory as well.
  • Good design and easy submission process. – Unique Template = Good design(typically).
  • Number and placement of Ads – Adsense/Banners. – Having a banner Ad in the header, Ads in the sidebar (sponsor text links) is a clear sign that the site’s only purpose is $$$.
  • Number of Footer Links – Same as above.
  • URL Relevance – less said is better for this.
  • Whether the directory owner has submitted to my directories to the proper category.

Finally, the best and my most loved one is – When the owner says, that he has “Big Plans for this Directory” in his introductory forum thread ;)

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Offline Viral Marketing in Indian Market

Viral Marketing is best defined as

Marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message.

Recently this strategy has been adopted by a varied number of corporate brands in their TV and Print Ads.

Rather than promoting the Brand upfront, these firms have taken this concept offline and have started to promote various social causes – charities, providing education, promoting small scale businesses, financial assistance for various causes. Whether the people use these products or not, these social causes have been noticed by all concerned, i.e. consumers in this case and have helped in promoting these brands.

This is fast picking up across various market segments but for now it is limited to only those products used by all people on a daily basis (washing powder, face creams, soaps etc.)

Only time will say how the other sectors react to these fast becoming brand awareness campaigns. As long as something beneficial is happening, no one is complaining :)

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TemplateMonster.com engaged in Large scale Piracy?

The Corbis photo agency has filed a lawsuit against TemplateMonster.com and ultravertex.com for (allegedly) engaged in Large-scale Piracy of Stock Photos and are seeking $109 million in damages.

Corbis accuses TemplateMonster of selling web site templates that include Corbis stock photos, thereby infringing on Corbis’s copyrights and encouraging customers to do the same. It also accuses Ultravertex of running a stock photo subscription service – priced at $49.95 for a six-month membership – that re-licensed Corbis photographs without authorization. In total, 623 Corbis images were available through the sites, the lawsuit says.

read the full story

hmm… interesting and something to keep track of.

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Keys to a successful site

i have been wanting to republish this for some time, but kept forgetting about it. now that i found it again here are some fantastic Tips from Larwee of Geek Talk Forums.

  • First, ask for help whenever you need help. If you have a problem try to get help with that problem. Posting the problem here at discussion forums is one place you can get help.
  • Luck also can play a role. I hate to say it but it does sometimes and that may or may not be something you can control. Bad luck can hurt you and good luck can really help.
  • Lots of hard work always helps. Spend as much time as possible working on your site and finding ways to make it better.
  • Make sure you have your own domain name and not some strange something from a free service. Register that domain name with an established registrar which has a low price. No need to pay a high price.
  • Make sure your site has lots of content. This will help you with your visitors as well as provide plenty of food for the search engines.
  • Design your site so it is easy to read and easy to navigate.
  • Get listed in directories. You might keep hearing get listed in DMOZ. It doesn’t need to be DMOZ. If you get listed there fine, if not fine. There are many fine directories and many of them will list you much quicker than DMOZ. Try to get listed in as many directories as possible. Do manual submissions. Don’t try to find some quick, easy automatic submission.
  • Being listed in lots of directories could bring you some traffic. But, may or may not provide you with lots of traffic. However, being listed in directories will provide links to your site which will be found by the search engines and search engines can bring you plenty of traffic. It doesn’t take lots of directories, just as long as you are listed in some directory that will provide a link for search engines to find you.
  • You can submit to search engines, but this doesn’t guarantee that they will list you. The search engines like to find you through a link from another site.
  • When you design your site, design it with your visitors in mind and try to make it the very best that you can. Do not try to design it for search engines by using all types of tricks to fool the search engines.
  • If you design your site with your visitors in mind, there will be people who will like your site and link to you from your site without you even asking.
  • Consider building links by such things as exchanging links with other sites.
  • Try to update your content and add new content. The new content provides more for the search engines and that will give you more opportunities to attract more people to your site.
  • Try to make sure that your site is about something you have an interest in. That makes your site much more fun for you to work on and will encourage you to spend the time needed to help make it a good site.
  • Avoid using FFA (Free For All) listings, and buying traffic from places that promise to deliver traffic to your site for a fee.
  • Avoid doing business with those who promise to submit your site to thousands of directories and search engines for a fee. The major search engines and a very few directories are the only ones which really deliver much traffic.
  • Repeat visitors can be very helpful. Keeping your site up to date and adding new content is a good way to keep visitors coming back.
  • Try to develop good contacts with other people who have sites. These people can help you to advance your site.
  • Consider adding a newsletter. Newsletters might not be as effective as they once were because of all the spam filters etc., but they can still be helpful. Traffic often increases after a newsletter is sent out and some of your subscribers will forward you newsletter to their friends if you have a good newsletter.
  • Word of mouth really helps. If you have a good site, people are going to tell others about your site.
  • You might also consider adding a Tell A Friend feature to your site. This works much better for some sites than others. But it might be worth a try to see how it works for you.
  • Get a good stats program or service so that you can examine your stats. This will provide you with valuable information about the people who visit your site as to where they visit, where they don’t visit and how they arrived at your site. You can use this information to improve your site.
  • Above all, be patient. Don’t expect things to happen real fast. Too often people just simply give up because things didn’t happen as quickly as they wanted them to.
  • Stick with it. Fight against the disappointments. Learn from your mistakes. Be willing to wait long enough for your work to bring you the rewards that you want.
  • Your site could possibly benefit a great deal if you learn about blogs and RSS feeds and put them to use.
  • A blog can be successful on its own. But you can use your blog to help your site. Of course you would have a link to your site on your blog, but you can also use your blog as a promotional vehicle for your site. With RSS feeds people can subscribe to your blog.
  • http://www.blogger.com isn’t the only choice you have for a blog. It is one of many choices you have. But it is free, plus it will automatically create feeds to make it possible for people to subscribe to your blog.
  • Try to create a good and interesting blog that is loaded with content. You could end up having a successful blog, plus you will be able to use your blog to increase traffic to your website.

do you have any which you would like to share ?

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