Recently I looked for Web site templates for remodelers that I could recommend. I did find a few sources, but they mostly missed the mark. Instead, this month I'm going to tell you what not to do on your Web site.
“Skip Intro” — Forever “Flash” is software that Web developers use to add all kinds of animation to a Web site. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Why make your users endure an annoying “intro” when all they really want is your contact information?
Lighten Up “Web authors” will tell you that your site needs “rich content” (the latest buzzword for eye/ear candy). But the most popular sites — Google, Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, Yahoo — are almost Spartan in appearance. They do have some things in common though: They load very quickly and get the user to the “meat” as fast as possible. Ditch anything on your site that doesn't support that simple goal.
Stick With Convention Some things have become Web standards. For example, hyperlinks should be underlined, the logo in the upper left-hand corner should lead “home,” and navigation should be the same from page to page. Avoid templates that substitute “art” for this basic ease-of-use. It's difficult (and expensive) enough to get someone to visit your Web site; why confuse them once they're there just for the sake of being different?
By sticking to a simple approach, you may find you won't need a fancy template to create a good Web site. Next time, we will look at some approaches that any remodeler can use to establish a good site online.
—Joe Stoddard is a process/technology consultant to the building industry. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.