I’m surprised to find Renoma Paris’s site (in English) made entirely out of Flash. While it took ages to load, it also played an annoying music that I couldn’t turn off unless I turned down my speakers.

Once the page loaded, I was presented with a scrolling marquee of images. They were so small that I couldn’t figure out what they were, so I clicked on any random image that passes and it brought me to yet another page that required loading. I sat waiting and stared at the red squares in the middle of the screen as more of them appeared after several seconds.

Frustrated, I closed my browser tab. I was on the site for barely two minutes.

This is a classic example of how your site can literally drive people away. Try it yourself – go visit that site.

Many business owners don’t understand that what they like to have on their own site isn’t necessarily what people want to see.

Here’s some of my personal DOs and DON’Ts of web design.

  • DON’T use flash for your entire site. It’s not only slow and heavy on a computer’s CPU, it doesn’t scroll well within a browser, it renders fonts differently from browsers making them difficult to read at times, the back and forward buttons don’t work, etc. The list of problems are endless. Oh, and did I mention that those Flash guys charge an arm and two legs? Don’t use flash. Period.
  • DON’T embed audio into your pages. It might give an old lady a heart attack, or simply just piss young people off by distorting whatever Wonder Girls track they’re listening to at the moment.
  • DON’T use a splash page. They only serve to delay a user’s entrance into your site. 9 in 10 splash pages I’ve seen have no real purpose other than the intent to create a “grand entrance” to a site. People visit web sites in search for content and will gladly click on the first sight of an “ENTER” button.
  • DON’T upload full resolution photos and simply use the HTML width and height attributes to resize your images. Resize  images using an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP to achieve optimal image quality and file size.
  • DON’T underestimate the power of image compression. Choose wisely between GIF, JPEG and PNG compression and experiment which works best for you. GIF generally works well with text, JPEG works well with photos and PNG works well if transparency is involved. When used incorrectly, your images will not only look bad, it will consume unnecessary storage and bandwidth.
  • DON’T pop shit windows up. It’s not only annoying but confusing. Open the next page in the same window – people know how to use the back button on the browser.
  • DON’T use FORM POSTs excessively. This is what most Java and ASP.NET developers don’t quite understand. FORM POSTs (or POSTBACKs) not only prevent the back button on the browser from working, they also prevent caches from doing their jobs.
  • DO engage a third party to check for grammar, spelling and content accuracy. Badly written content translates to a bad user experience.
  • DO test your web site over a real Internet connection at home to check its loading time. Most sites load in a split second over a LAN but not over the Internet.
  • DO read up on how to make your site cache friendly, especially if your site handles lots of traffic. ISPs spend tonnes of money on web caches to conserve their bandwidth and yet web caching is one of the most misunderstood technology on the Internet. When your site is made cache friendly, ISP caches will greatly improve your users’ experience especially if they are far away.
  • DO add more line spacing. It’s easier on the eyes.

There’s much more to web design than this short list though. Here’s my golden rule – humans like control. Give it to them.

On a side note, I provide consultation for web marketing. Feel free to drop me a (private) message.