What’s Going Horribly Wrong with Online Design

The prob­lem with so many online web­sites today is that there’s too lit­tle design input. Yes, con­tent is king, espe­cial­ly if you run a blog, school or com­mu­ni­ty site. But for busi­ness web­sites, design is impor­tant too. Busi­ness are often hap­py to let ama­teurs do it all, often using tem­plates to save time and costs. The grow­ing use of Face­book as a busi­ness pres­ence doesn’t help. The brand­ing is poor and it looks very unpro­fes­sion­al.

One of the niche growth areas these days is the build­ing and sales of design themes for all types of web­sites, blogs and e-store­fronts. Some of these are good, some bad. Bad visu­al­ly and bad­ly cod­ed. But the high growth of this sec­tor proves there is a mar­ket need.

Com­pa­ny own­ers are sim­ply look­ing for ways to get a bet­ter look­ing web­site, at a low­er cost. Sites like tem­plate­mon­ster and a dozen oth­ers like them make a good liv­ing onselling web­site designs built by both ama­teurs and pro­fes­sion­als. (Exam­ple right).

Themed lay­outs do have their place and can in some instances be a good build­ing block to cut design and cod­ing time, espe­cial­ly when bud­gets are tight. How­ev­er the out­come is usu­al­ly a com­pro­mised brand, as well as a web­site with lit­tle traf­fic. In around 80–90% of cas­es these cheap tem­plates lack any SEO opti­mi­sa­tion, ignor­ing all of Googles web­site cod­ing guide­lines. Which means less traf­fic to the site.

I cring every time someone provides me one of these cheap templates as a basis for a new website…

Most of these tem­plates are a night­mare to work with, espe­cial­ly the CMS web­site or store ver­sions. Here the same graph­ic design­er has attempt­ed the intri­cate cod­ing aspect, show­ing lit­tle under­stand­ing of good seman­tic struc­ture or how Google views the site. To them, the code is only a vehi­cle to make it look right. Noth­ing else mat­ters.

A bet­ter option is for the design­er to pro­vide me a design done in Pho­to­shop, allow­ing me to cre­ate them an exact match (exam­ple right), that’s well cod­ed and opti­mised for Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Armed with the lat­est Word­Press cod­ing toolsets means that unique look is afford­able — Tak­ing only an extra cou­ple days of my cod­ing time, not the weeks once need­ed.

We end up with some­thing we can all be proud of. Some­thing real­ly spe­cial I know has been worked out between a design­er and the com­pa­ny own­er. Not just some­thing they think ‘looks nice’ as if pick­ing cloth­ing from a cat­a­logue — Com­pa­ny brand­ing should nev­er start this way…

The Dire Need for Originality

The aver­age web­site today lacks punch and orig­i­nal­i­ty. It may even have too many graph­ics that actu­al­ly dis­tract, not help sales. Ad guru David Ogilvy had lots to say on this top­ic.

Even this Print­net site is a good exam­ple of one with good con­tent, but still lack­ing a design­ers touch. We are coders, not design­ers. (Those will­ing to help give it a makeover, please email me asap).

All this is the oppor­tu­ni­ty for skilled graph­ic design­ers. To take their print design skills and migrate them to the online. The mar­ket poten­tial is huge if done right.

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