NOTE: These words were adapted from the email I recently sent to a friend of mine, a lawyer in Atlanta who specializes in DUI. He asked me for comments about his new web site. Although the early version of the web site to which these comments apply no longer exists, I decided to post this anyway, since it contains recommendations that could apply to many web projects.
I have many low-cost or free, modern suggestions for your web presence (for both appearance and marketing); I will write it up for you soon, no strings attached. (Don’t worry, there won’t be any time wasted on my part; it will serve as the backbone of most of my future website recommendations.)
I am going to be completely honest, which is what I would want and always prefer. I’m sure (the original web designer) won’t mind. Obviously, regardless of MY opinions and comments, the most important thing (apart from sales, opinions and views of customers, etc.) is how YOU like it.
Your new site will probably be fine to a casual user and will come across as just another website. And there is nothing wrong with that. However, I would have done things very differently.
Here are a few notes:
It doesn’t work (biggest problem). Error message: Your form could not be submitted. Please contact the owner of the site where you completed the form for further details.
Also, it should be noted that the web form uses (or in this case, attempts to use) a third-party form service instead of working on its own accord.
It loads fast and does not waste bandwidth on unnecessary graphics. Very good.
Text is used instead of graphics for the main navigation links – very good. (Unneeded graphics are very passé and only slow things down; eye candy is no longer a plus for non-entertainment sites)
The rule of thumb for professional sites is white backgrounds. However, this is a personal preference. Statistically, dark text on white backgrounds is read faster and more often by more people, and they create more return visits than a light text on a dark site. The reasons for this are a mix of the science of light waves, psychology, trends, and of course, opinion.
The web site was built on a template that’s very dated. It’s quite old-school in several aspects. The first thing I noticed was the 90’s look of those blue graphics with rounded corners (top, left, footer). These qualities shout “free, outdated template.” IMAO, it would be better to have a plain-text site with NO graphics.
It contains graphics that serve no purpose other than an attempt to make it look “nice.” (Hardly anyone agrees on what is “nice” which is why standard, content-oriented, clean, bright sites with plenty of whitespace are almost universally preferred.)
On the straight-line page (reference omitted) (and other pages using images in the content area), the text should wrap around the image; instead, the image uses the whole column for some reason. It may be a browser compatibility error or something – like most others these days, I do not use Internet Explorer (IE is being dumped like a hot potato in favor of Firefox and Chrome for many reasons – slowest browser, too much clutter, etc.).
In general, what people want is a clean, neat, uncluttered, fast-loading, content-oriented site. One can learn much about preferred and desirable features by surfing the world’s most popular websites, which virtually all have white backgrounds. (However, doing something just because others are doing it does not make it right!)
…and I am sticking this link in here because zeitgeists are so interesting…
Top Law Firms
I also spent some time looking at the sites of the top law firms, which also used light backgrounds.