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Web Design for a Likable Website

Aug 17, 2007
When you create a web design that is appealing to visit, people will be more likely to visit more often, add you to their bookmark list, and, therefore, think of you first when your products and/or services are needed. Therefore, when you're designing your website, it is strongly advised that you place a good deal of emphasis on building a likeable website design. This, strictly said, is a craft. It is a subjective process. This means that a likeable website design is not only different from one opinion to the next, but is also open to as many different options as you can think of.

If you're looking for more direction for a likeable website design than "what you think is right" then there are two key steps that you can take to make it work. These steps include:

Keeping away from traditional, stale ideas
Be wary of novelties until they've settled

Now, keep in mind that the point of this article is not trying to tell you how you should specifically design your website, nor is it trying to establish what is right and wrong. The point is to lay down a good foundation to give you a place to get things started.

Though everything does have its place, it is important that you try to use tools only when they enhance the actual message that you're trying to put across, instead of just downloading them and sprinkling them around on your site because you think they look neat.

Most of these stale old tools have been used a million times before and are simply getting too tired for a web design that is supposed to stand out. Such traditional tools include:

Page counters
Too many animated GIFs
Javascript text scrolling
Page fade-ins
Under-construction signs
And other similar devices.

If you find that you do want or need a page counter, that's fine, just make sure that it is hidden. This means that you'll be able to see it, as the person who owns the site, but your visitors won't. Other than for your own measuring purposes, a counter doesn't serve any real purpose to your site. In fact, if you do get a lot of traffic, a page counter only looks arrogant when it's included in your web design. Similarly, if your site doesn't get very much traffic, is this really something that you want to be bragging about?

The same thing goes for Javascript scrolling and page fading. Though these seemed pretty interesting when they were first introduced, they have been used so frequently that the only message they seem to put across is a lack of originality about the website design.

Under construction signs are a pointless part of any website. After all, shouldn't your website - and the entire World Wide Web for that matter - always technically under construction. It's always growing, changing, adapting, and therefore never has a need for an under construction sign. If you truly feel the need to say that your page is coming soon, do just that. Place a little text marker on the page that says that it is coming soon. If you have an expected date for its "live" day, even better.

The same idea is true with novelties. Every week, and every day there is a new and hot "thing" on the internet. If you wanted to stay on top of each new development, you'd quickly be overwhelmed. However, for a likeable web design, you'll want to stay away from such things and reach out to a wider audience. This means that you'll need to wait until the novelties aren't novel anymore; they're just good.

Though there will always be people jumping on the band wagon for fresh new things, you don't need to be the guinea pig. Your site's likeability needs to be based upon the willingness of your visitors to find its elements appealing.

Some examples of novelties that have become quite popular but are becoming heavily disliked by web users and web developers include:

Java applets
Shockwave objects
Activex controls
Anything requiring plug-ins
Specialized document formats (requiring a program download, even if that software is free)

This doesn't mean that you specifically need to avoid these things. If they work for your site, great. Just make sure that you're using them for the right reasons, not just because they seem new and spiffy.

Don't be afraid to try new things, but make sure that your goal is to make your web design more likeable and workable, not just a place for the next design fad.
About the Author
Mark Nenadic
Mark is the director and face behind FifteenDegrees-North, where you will find articles and resources to help with SEO,
marketing and Web design.
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