Fix My Site

Does your site suck? Do you need professional advice? Do you not want to pay for this advice? Send me an email, and I'll take a look at your site and provide you with some real suggestions. By real, I mean real.

Friday, June 02, 2006

An Example of What Not to Do

Al writes:

I definitely could use some advice. The site is Please let me know what it needs.

Well, Al, there are many, many things wrong with this site. For one, the site is extremely plain and unprofessional looking. I don't know of many people looking for a vacation in the tropics who would consider purchasing from a site that looks like this when they can just as easily go to Orbitz or Expedia and know they're getting something from a trusted source. While you may have better prices (I don't know this, but let's assume you do), people are more willing to pay an extra few dollars for something like an expensive vacation from a site that looks like the people know what they're doing.

If this is your company and business, I would seriously consider hiring a professional to create a good design for you and code it out. If you're not looking to hire a professional, here are some other suggestions:

  1. Stop using FrontPage and learn HTML (or better yet, learn XHTML). FrontPage is one of the worst products invented since the advent of the internet. HTML isn't that tough. You can find literally millions of HTML tutorials on the internet.
  2. Come up with a logo for your company. It looks like your "logo" doesn't even represent your company name. Once you have a logo, create your site using that as a base for your color palette.
  3. Use fewer ads. For the love of God, use fewer ads. No one likes being attacked by endless Google ads. I know you can "make money" using AdSense, but putting 3 or 4 sets of ads on a page is a bit of overkill and will discourage people from clicking rather than entice them.
  4. For your giant table of vacations, pare it down. Cut it into manageable chunks that a user might actually look at and have teaser links leading deeper into the site.
  5. When linking within your own site, do NOT have the new page pop up in a new window. This is very annoying.
  6. Come up with sections for your site. Right now your information architecture is all over the map, without any sort of logical flow to your site. Also, make an About Us section where you can put information about your company, a Contact Us section, and a news section. Really take some time to plan out how your site should look. Ever seen a family tree? That's kind of how your site should look (minus all the marriages and divorces). Put the home page on top, and then put your main sections underneath it, and the main sections' subsections beneath them. Once you do this, you'll see how easy it is to create a good site with coherent navigation. If you want an example of good information architecture, check out (yes, it's a shameless plug, but it's also a good example) and go deep into the site. Watch the sub-navigation on the left and the breadcrumbs at the top. They clearly delineate your path and your options for a given section.
  7. Write good copy. Right now your copy is generic. While your site may be legit, there are a bazillion spam sites out there with copy very similar to yours. Really focus in on what you think people are looking for when they come to your site and then write tight, concise copy using what you came up with as a base. Then, make sure that this copy (no more than a short paragraph or so) ends up underneath your heading.
  8. Make sure your homepage isn't much longer than the height of the screen. This is more of a personal design preference, but useful. Many people when they come to your site look only at your homepage. A lot of times they won't even scroll. So, if you have content "below the fold" (ie, where the bottom of the screen is), there's a good chance it won't get read.

Okay, there's a few things to get you started. Good luck :)


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