Everyone knows I am not a web design expert. That's why I use SBI! I did outsource a designer once but discovered that I am WAY to controlling for that to work well. Now I just outsource my graphics with PopArtDiva and use SBI! for my site.
I don't need to be an expert, however, to tell my clients when something just doesn't work. And after a knock-down, drag-out session with my newest over his site, I thought I might share some of those here.
1. If I have to wear sunglasses because the colors on your site are blinding, I am not going to read it. Likewise, if there are so many different colors it looks like the Skittles rainbow. Granted, bright colors can be eye catching if used properly. The key word there is properly. Use them to draw your visitors to a particular place on your site or to highlight something of importance or interest. Too many colors just looks busy. Keep it simple. Two or three but definitely no more than four colors is enough.
2. Skip the splashy intro pages. If I am at your site, I am looking for something. I do not want to sit through a production number featuring flashing lightening bolts and horrible canned Muzak while the name of your company scrolls across the screen. I'm going to skip the intro anyway so save yourself the time and effort of creating it. Because if it's too annoying, I might not just skip the intro. I might just skip your site altogether.
3. Ditto for Flash. It's cumbersome. Not everyone has a flash player on their computers. If I have to download something extra just to visit your site, I probably won't if I have other options (i.e. other websites).
4. Use a font that I can read. I'm old. My eyes have had lots of use. They don't work perfectly anymore. So if I can't read what you have written even with my reading glasses, I'm moving on. This doesn't mean you have to use Arial or Times New Roman exclusively or a 24 pt font. But do use a legible font in a size that most people with normal vision can see. I don't mind wearing my glasses as long as I can see when I do.
5. Don't make your site so difficult to navigate that I need a road map just to find my way around. If I get lost on the first couple of tries, I will go someplace easier to get around. One or two clicks should get me anywhere I want and it should be obvious where I am and where I'm going.
6. My first question when I get to your site should not be "How do I turn off this music?!"
7. Don't even bother to put up the site if you aren't going to maintain it. Nothing is more frustrating than to think you found the site you need only to find all the information on it is out of date. It will make me wonder if you are even still in business. And that will send me looking for someone I know is still around.
A website needs to be easy to navigate, easy to read, and easy to understand and current. Catch my attention with a great page title. Lead me to the information I want quickly and easily. Show me how to contact you if I need to or give me the opportunity to purchase your goods and/or services with a few clicks. Leave the gimmicks, noise, and flash for someone else.