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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