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Old 08-25-1999, 07:44 PM   #1
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Default What is "graphic design" on the Web

A thought provoking statement by WC:

"Apart from issues of personal taste, web design shouldn't just be about graphic design. Load speeds, how well indexed by SEs, ease of use, cross-browser compat, and most importantly - the ability to make some $$ should all be factors. I have seen sites which are outstanding say in graphics, but fail on other criteria.

In my own site designs, $$ and ease of SE indexing (into my favorite sE which gives me a disproportionate number of hits, and nobody else seems to target) tends to win out over other things. I have regularly tested cooler layouts, and usually find that I personally prefer to compromise on graphics to do better in other categories."

This is meaty stuff. Lot's of grist here. To begin we need a more accurate definition of the appropriate words. Design is how it "looks" and how it "works" That hasent changed in over 75 years regardless of the medium. And yes their are "rules" written in stone for design that have been around for decades and still work today. Dominant element, Golden mean, "pointers" "color harmony" and many more which I teach. Yes you can break these rules if appropriate but I think you need to understand the rules before you break them.

The design must also "fit" the target audience. And yes, in all mediums for over a 100 years the factor of "making money" is part of this equation. Go back to the "Edwin" thread here and see how all of us increased his page views which increased his revenue with a new design. We have done others as well. A desgin that fits your target audience. And yes his site "looks" better.

So I'm not surprised that "pretty designs" didn't work for WC and the one he has might even be considered "ugly" by some. In this case It's the demographics/profile of your visitor that like your "look" A very very techie crowd that want the content without all the extras. The type that probably turn off Java and graphics in their browser. Thats fine and neat and you have done a great job.

And yes WC, your point is taken about "pretty sites" not making any money. But I would respectfully say this has been true since the day Guttyenburg invented the printing press so lots of analog magazines and TV showes look pretty but still don't make money. Why? Because they look pretty? Because they don't look "Ugly" Because they aren't built for the SE "spider"?

I think it's not as simple as this or any "compramise" you may make. Content, fresh content, promotion, defining your target, serving the needs of your "target" are all critical factors.

Thoughts, arrows, slings, etc are all welcome http://www.very-cool-stuff.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

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Old 08-25-1999, 09:16 PM   #2
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IMHO What "works" is what's right

"Works" can mean different things or combinations of things to different people. It could mean make more affiliate sales/clicks, sell more products online, get more advertisers, provide a service, present a good corporate image...etc.

In my case what works is what I try and do, and in my case, what works means primarily to sell my stuff, or other people's stuff online . Although I'm always learning, testing improving. Sometimes you don't know why things work - you just find they do. I have had many examples of this, including lots that I would never have predicted.

In my next site I am providing a service to webmasters, and won't be aiming to get many hits from search engines, so in this case, what matters is the service is perceived as good (which includes it looks nice & works nice), so the whole criteria shifts...although of course $$$$ is still a major factor.

I wouldn't recommend anybody make their site ugly for the sake of being ugly. I would recommend that everybody test all aspects of their site (including design, content & promotion), preferably against some kind of concrete measure of "success".

For WildComputer, the result I primarily measure by is daily revenue (I calculate average over the last 30 days in a spreadsheet). This has constantly gone up for many months even when traffic has gone down.

I agree that promotion and other factors than design, is a factor too.

So in summary, what I was really attempting to say is don't evaluate your site just on how it looks - but on *all* the factors.

Sometimes there are choices to be made (which applies to implementation, content, design and promotion). Sometimes there are reasons to choose a layout which is less "optimal" from a design point of view.

Most "ugly" sites are just plain ugly. A few are ugly for a reason.

For a better known example, a very well known and popular affiliate site (and I don't mean Ryan's) is IMHO pretty ugly. But...

Incidentally I feel the public at large is gradually becoming more used to "bad" design. Thanks to everybody being a self-publisher - because of the ubiquitous nature of word processors, DTP and of course the web.

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