Just to make you all jealous

  Pesala 23:19 31 May 2003

Two people I know very well have their own website click here

David is a programmer and his wife Christine is a professional artist. Together they make an ideal team to design websites. What do you think?

  Forum Editor 00:13 01 Jun 2003

but I found the content ever so slightly pretentious and a tad patronising - it's a mistake that clever people often make when addressing ordinary mortals, in this case their target audience.

I'm sorry if that offends them/you in any way, but you did ask "What do you think?"

  Sir Radfordin™ 00:33 01 Jun 2003

I'd be worried about anyone who talks about computers in the way they do! Since when has a computer been a 'he'?!

Sites not to bed, but like the FE would say it is pretentious and patronising, and sorry to say it I'm not at all jealous.

It also has the "I'm going to show off everything I can do in Flash" feel about it. Crazy little graphics add nothing. Its clearly a site that had design before function...but at least it does that well!

Well you did ask ;-)

  Pesala 00:44 01 Jun 2003

I wasn't really talking about the content, though that is also very important if a website is going to sell the product.

What the website design does is present the information very clearly. The fact that you didn't like the product is, frankly, irrelevant. The purpose of this forum is to discuss website design, not to tell people how to run their business.

It is quick and easy to navigate, visually appealing, and not overburdened with technical detail.

  Taran 00:46 01 Jun 2003

I closed Internet Explorer after the fifth page displayed its Loading... message.

One of my pet hates is a Flash site.

Just don't get me started.

Flash is superb but severely misused. It should ship with a warning on its packaging; "Misuse of this product could seriously damage your site" or something similar.

For all its visual appeal, Flash should be a supporting addition to a site; the animations should be small, tasteful and relevant to the subject at hand.

I don't expect all designers to be alike (God forbid) but most stay well away from a Flash based site for a lot of very good reasons. It should be used sparingly as a general rule of thumb.

Having said that and moaned for England, the pages I looked at were well presented and written but I'd echo Forum Editor. There was a certain "them and us" aloofness and it is quite detectable. I realise this will not be intentional, but many may find it irritating or even be offended to some extent, regardless of any intentions to be so.

This isn't me trying to teach my granny how to suck eggs and I realise it may not be the opinion of many, but, well, you asked.

Looks great if you want to wait for it. Reads great if your one of "them" but could rankle if you're one of "us".

I hope this doesn't put too many noses out of joint.


  Pesala 00:57 01 Jun 2003

I thought the flash intro was fine, brief, eye-catching, and colourful, but the rocket is really OTT and has no place on a professional business site.

The site loaded fast on NTL Home broadband. Home page loads in ten seconds. One other flash page took ten seconds to load. Everything else seemed instantaneous.

  Forum Editor 01:24 01 Jun 2003

I can sense that you are, and we're not criticising your choice. We're reacting to your "just to make you all jealous" title.

In the light of that I must confess to finding this a little off key: "The fact that you didn't like the product is, frankly, irrelevant. The purpose of this forum is to discuss website design, not to tell people how to run their business."

In response to which I'm bound to say that in fact the purpose of this forum is to discuss web sites - all aspects of web sites - and we can't divorce design from function I'm afraid.

The site looks lovely - some clever use of colour - but designing totally in Flash (the whole site is a series of Flash files) brings problems to a webmaster. You can't edit the page content without editing the Flash file, and this can be very time-consuming. The text isn't text, it's been converted to a graphic and has to be edited as such. You couldn't update the content in say, FrontPage without using Macromedia Flash, or a similar aplication.

I wince with Taran when I see such sites - they smack of using technology for technology's sake, and blur the boundaries between creating an information resource and providing a software demo. It's an interesting site, but in my view it misses the point somewhat. If I was a potential client I would find it a tad intimidating.

  Sir Radfordin™ 10:07 01 Jun 2003

Design should always go in hand with function. Where I work we've got an online application system that looks wonderful, its a clean crips page and visually very apealing. However the users hate it because its awful to use. No matter how good a site looks, if it doesn't convey its message or allow a user to interact properly with it then its failed and is, as the FE says, technology for technologys sake.

There is also an issue of accesibility, a site designed in this way is not going to be suitable for people who use text to speach software (as they tend to get read the HTML) and thats something any business should be thinking about - some may legally required to do so.

  Pesala 10:30 01 Jun 2003

That is the kind of thing that budding website designers need to know. How and when (or if) to use Flash. OK on an intro page, probably, not so good for text based pages that may have to be edited later, or that may need to be read by screen-readers.

Most of us may be the client as well as the web-designer, but if designing for others it is up to the client to say what material needs to be presented, the designer's job is just to present it as clearly as possible.

  Forum Editor 13:28 01 Jun 2003

what material needs to be presented"

That's an interesting - and moot - point. I've been designing web sites for clients for quite some time now, and one of the most interesting things I've learned is that few clients really know how to present their company online. It's not their fault, if they were Internet experts they would be doing the job themselves.

Other designers may agree with me when I say that a web designer's job is far more than simply building a showcase for the client to fill with goods and/or services - it doesn't work that way. I find myself spending as much time advising clients about Internet marketing principles as I do in actually building web pages. In fact, with a little practice the building process is pretty straightforward, it's the presentation of a company or product that takes time to develop, and few clients have the experience and/or in-house expertise to do this.

If web design was just about creating good-looking pages I think most professional designers would tire of it in weeks.

  Taran 14:46 01 Jun 2003

Ditto to Forum Editors last post.

A good web designer is an editor, graphics designer, sometimes a photographer (at need), advises on how to deliver the products, services, goods for sale and so on that the site is intended to offer to its visitors and quite often has to tie in with staff of many levels, depending on what the site is going to deliver.

I often find that I have to balance what an MD or CEO wants in conjunction with how the company admin works and how their marketing team operate.

Failure to take this and other factors into account more often than not produces something that the CEO may love to look at and talk about but is a nightmare for order processing and similar.

Dealing with a certain layout and look is one of the last things that I do and this comes only after some quite intensive discussion between myself and my clients where conceptual designs are often trialled and refined until something is suitable for all aspects of the business.

If I took every clients wishes at face value and carried out there instructions to the letter, I'd have gone out of business years ago and would certainly never be prepared to put my name to such sites.

Since most of the sites I do are commercial at some level, knowledge of how to deliver products to a market effectively, maximising income from minimal appropriate outlay (in financial, time investment and possibly staff training terms) and a whole raft of other things come into play long before FrontPage or Dreamweaver even get a look in.

If it was all about the look, I'd leave it up to those people with both the time and inclination to sit and design, and design, and design, and design...

Those very designers would fall flat on their collective faces the moment a site requiring dynamic content, secured access pages, username and password restrictions, encryption keys and so on was required.

Without the marketing skills and the ability to deliver a site that can effectively offer goods and services, I'd lose around 40% or so of my yearly turnover and I'd no longer need at least one staff member, possibly even two.

Finally, some of the best designed sites I've ever seen have come from amateurs with the time to chase just such a look. At the other end of the scale some of the worst sites belong to a few of the various tourist information centres around the country and have clearly been cobbled together (no doubt at considerable cost) by somebody with no clue at all about what the heck they are doing. I cringe when I see some of those sites and the after-effects must be terrible when people visit them looking for information about a local area only to find that the database they are trying to query is still on the designers C: drive (or at least, that's where the hylperlinks are pointing) and there are links to pages that don't exist and so on.


Go figure.

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