Web design


Taming The Wild Mind

Myths have developed around and researchers have studied how the human brain juggles creativity and organization. Popular theory tells us that the left brain is structured and logical, while the right brain is artistic and imaginative, and that all human beings use predominantly one side of the other.

Working in a creative field means challenging that theory, or else challenging the schedules and deadlines that managers impose on writers, designers and other creatives. As a project manager in a UX design agency, as well as a writer, I believe it is necessary to challenge both the assumptions about schedules and the belief that creativity implies disorganization.

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Does your website suck?

I was at a loss this week as to what to do my article about. I have been a bit overworked, and my brain just wasn’t functioning properly. So, I did what I always did in this situation: I aimlessly wandered the net. Aimless surfing brings me to a ton of websites, both those made for entertainment purposes, and those made for serious ones, ecommerce included.

There was one website that really stuck out for me, and that was Web Pages That Suck. What I thought was so brilliant about this website was its checklist, which offers a whole mess of things to look for when trying to decide if you are creating a good looking, functional website, or a cancerous tumor on the rear end of the Internet.

This seemed extremely relevant to me, because I see some awful business websites in my line of work. I mean some certifiably awful, laughable attempts at drawing in customers. You have to feel sorry for these guys, because they seem to genuinely not realize their errors. What is worst is that some of the people reading this right now will be one of them, or at least be on their way to becoming one of them.

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Basic HTML for startup business owners

Do You Need to Know HTML for a Business Website?

If you are like me when I first start your business and you try to handle anything you can to save your money, or if you are in charge of editing content of the site (even with the assistance of those What You See Is What You Get WYSIWYG text editors), basic knowledge of HTML is a must.

I’m not going into great details regarding html code here, W3C is a great place for you to learn all that for FREE. Please have a look at that page, at least just skim through it to get the basic ideas of how website “work” in general.

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Designing Tips For Your Business Website – Part III

This is our final installment in the designing series for creating a successful website. Last week we talked about the importance of having high quality content available for your site, even in the case of those looking to create content purely for SEO purposes. We also discussed the need to be careful about the type, placement, and frequency of advertisements on your site, particularly popups, which can cause a great deal of aggravation for the user.

In our final week I would like to discuss a few layout and formatting tips to make your site look as professional and clean as possible. This is important for anyone who is hoping to make money, as a poorly constructed layout and look can create distrust and an unwillingness to use a product or service provided.

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Designing Tips For Your Business Website – Part II

In our last installment we began discussing the tips that can help you create a successful and attractive website, which will meet all of your customers needs. Those first two tips were keeping it simple, and sticking with a plan. Both of these are rather general, so today I would like to discuss a few targeted tips that can help you to make sure that you have as effective and helpful an ecommerce site as you possibly can.

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Bobkatgifts.net website design review

Given the same lines of products and price ranges, which elements make one store a success while the other a failure? Besides services and such, researches have shown us that the way you arrange elements in your store has direct effect on the conversion rate (in other words, your bottom line). While there is no foolproof guide which can be applied to every situation, there are lessons we can learn from trials and errors. In an attempt to find out the better way to design website for high conversion, we decide to review online stores on our blog to find out what to do and what to avoid. Please keep in mind that all these are our subjective opinions and we would love to hear from you!

This week, we will review Bobkatgifts.net, the owner of the website has allowed us to post a public review of his website here.

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Designing Tips For Your Business Website – Part I

The business world is, by definition, competitive. But when you are dealing with ecommerce you have to expect an added level of intensity in that competition. The Internet has created a never ending resource by way of online business, and many have moved to take advantage of that. This means that web entrepreneurs have to go that extra mile in attracting and keeping a customer base. The first step to achieving this is through effective web design.

You would be shocked to see how often an online business uses shoddy design and a bad layout, and so loses the trust of potential buyers. This three-part series, updated weekly, will be dedicated to ensuring that you don’t make the same mistake. These tips should help you, the business owner, to design an effective website that put off the right kind of image, and attract the customers your company needs to thrive and expand.

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PNG transparency fix for IE6

While we try to avoid using transparent images (using png format) as much as we can because IE6 cannot handle it very well, there are times when we just can’t avoid it. (As much as we wish all IE6 users would change to a better browsers, that doesn’t seem to happen soon and it is our job to make sure our websites are cross-browser compatible)

We have been using the well known twinhelix for a while and it works wonder for us. However, recently it came to our attention that this png fix seriously eats up server’s resources and can even get IE6 users temporarily banned from the site, our client reported that:

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Design an online store with hundreds of thousands of products

Recently we have been working with zencart stores that have thousands of products with over a hundred categories and sub categories. We have also seen other zencart stores with more than 100000 products, pretty amazing right? The dilemma is how to present these products and categories in a user friendly way yet still allow search engines to index them well (remember: search engines don’t necessarily index all your links especially if you have too many links and if they are too “deep” in the level. (By levels, I mean something like this: site.com/level1/level2/level3/…. If you are using the default zencart you won’t have this type of link, but if you use some Zencart SEO URL such as Simple Seo Url(SSU) you do have the ability to create links with levels like that. By default SSU uses only 2 level which is really good).

  1. You can put products in multiple levels of categories, allowing users to drill down to the exact category that contain the products they want.
    Cons: too many levels will drive the users nuts and you will your your sales. Also, search engines will more than likely ignore many of your product links or update them very slowly.
  2. You can put reduce the category levels, but then you will end up having too many top level categories or putting too many products in one category.
    Cons: too confusing and inconvenient for users to easily locate their products (zencart’s search happens to be NOT the best search one can have).

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Speed up your website with CSS Sprite

First, let us look at reasons that may cause a website to load too slow on the users’ ends:

1. The server has to process too many things before sending back the output to the user’s browser: in this case we have to optimize the server’s process. By the way, if your Zencart is slow, have a look at our Zencart Speed Up Guide.

2. The user’s Internet connection is too slow or your page’s size is too big (over 1MB for example): we will have to reduce your total page size as much as possible, that including using less images, flashes, and minify and compress your css and javascript. You can check the above guide for some ideas.

3. The page makes too many requests: if you have 10 images on the page, 5 background image, 5 css and 5 javascript files then the browser has to make at least a total of 25 requests to the server just to load the page. This whole process will obviously slow down the users’ load speed and increase the load on your server.

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