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Effective Websites--home page design & text

DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
edited February 2007 in Website Critique
Hi all,
My goal with my company Effective Websites is to create a company that`s nationally known for creating high-quality websites.  If websites were cars, I want to be making Lexus`s. (spelling?)  Not necessarily going for top-of-the-line elitist sites, but not generic cheap ones either.  I`m focusing on providing services to small or medium businesses that would like to hire an outside person to take care of their website design, maintenance and marketing.
Another aspect of my company is that I push marketing methods along with design and maintenance.  If a website is to be effective, people have to know about it.  I also will be offering testing of different page elements and analysis of visitor behavior.
The purpose of my website is to acquaint visitors with my services, start creating a postive relationship with them through offering free information/products and having a friendly tone, and to spur them to contact us about our services.  I plan to do marketing offline as well as online, but offline efforts will also direct people to learn more about the company through the website.
I started out with the design idea and copy for the home page that you see here: www.effective-websites.com/combodesign.html</A>. 
A few of the links on the second two pages don`t go anywhere yet.  I wanted to get some feedback on what I had here before I made the new pages. 
Also, the top link button (Services) on the third design has a rollover effect, as an example.  I also would like opinions on that before I do the same for the others.
The main questions I would like answered are: does the design of this page make you feel that I would do a good job designing your website?  And does the text lead you toward sending information about your company, or are there too many ideas?  Suggestions for improvement are welcome.
Also, if you visit the other pages on the website and anything jumps out at you as needing to be fixed, I`d like to hear about that, too.  (Except the design.  Whatever design I go with on the home page will be carried over to the other pages.)


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    rvdebbyrvdebby subscriber Posts: 11
    Hi Danae,
    I personally liked your style. It is a bit chatty, but so am I.  I felt very comfortable. I liked that you are working to try more products and report on your findings, while allowing me to explore them for myself.
    Used the buttons to navigate without problems.I couldn`t find the rollover button?? Tried moving my mouse around but nothing happened.
    Thought the look was professional, good info without being overloaded. I did take the time to see more, most of the more came from sources other than you but it was good info. Prices didn`t blow me out of the water. You made it clear that you could work with budget concerns of the new startup.
    Debrvdebby2007-2-27 13:28:0
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    DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
    Deb--my best friend says my website sounds very chatty, too.  I want to stay far away from the jargon-filled "corporate tone" websites that so often threaten to put me to sleep.  I don`t know if I need to find a medium place--if the chatty tone is a problem or just different.  Guess that`s something to test.
    Nikole--I don`t mind you being picky.  Are there too many words?  Does the amount of text discourage you from reading it?  You said it seems plain.  I suppose it is, compared to your website`s graphics (I`ve seen yours a few times), but then Google`s website is plain, too.   Not saying I`m Google, but plain is not necessarily bad.  What I need to figure out is what amount of plainness or graphic intensity actually works well for communicating my message.
    As for tables--do you like everything to be in CSS?  I did that for my first design, but it was overwhelming to me to try to make it adjustable width with my border, so I switched to tables for the combo design.  I also did the "new design" (second one) with tables because I wanted to do it quickly.  I`ve worked with tables for a lot longer, and I usually like to combine CSS and tables for layout, using whatever works.  Perhaps you think this is sacrilege!   
    (I do want to tell you, though, that after reading some of your posts here about validating HTML, I actually worked to validate a sample design I made, and started on validating my combo page design.  I hit a snag with the DOCTYPE inclusion messing up my style sheet, so I dropped it, but it was interesting.)
    Steve--you had a lot of thoughts.  I found it interesting that you think the border looks old-fashioned.  I don`t remember ever seeing something like that before--borders, of course, but not embossed borders in two colors.  Anyway, I will see what other people say, and consider your thoughts as well.  Did you like the second design (www.effective-websites.com/newdesign.html</A>) better?  It didn`t have the all-around border.
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    NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    I am probably a bad one to answer this because I`m so picky, but ..The problem is calling it effective design because it attracts more customers ... but I am not particularly attracted by it. There`s a lot of words, it seems a little plain ... I don`t know, it`s hard to put my finger on it, because I`m not a designer.I am a developer though, and the tables all over the page are really bugging me. Yes, I agree with everything NIKOLE has to say. I don`t know what you mean by effective... What is effective? Your designs?Ok here`s the deal... Im not sure Im feeling the design personally, since Im a designer and developer. If you`d ask me.... I don`t think you are a lexus at this point, you`re designs are way to simple. I wouldn`t consider it to be a LEXUS  design per say.... You are more at a Cabriolet, or Rabbit status right now. Here is why... Yes very Chatty... No proof of your work... and too many tables and stuff that could have been done with div tags. Put it like this, when you are able to create a full web site in div tags and css, then I will give you your LEXUS emblem to hang around your neck like the beasty boys... remember the old VW sign on a chain? Till then... the learning curb is definitely long... SMILE Nuevolution2007-2-27 23:27:42
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    NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    Steve - You put it better than I did. You sound like my artist in your comments ... he`s always saying how something is pixelated or the kerning is off or the typography needs work. This is why I gladly hand these things over to him so I never have to think about it. Danae - Yes I do everything entirely in CSS. I have very strong beliefs on this ... it`s the foundation of our company. I know most people don`t know much about the difference though, but I see your site and I know it`s all in tables without even looking at the code.The key in your statement is you are going with what you`ve been doing for a while. I think this holds in your design too. Your code and your design are both from about the same year. As my general rule of thumb, if I find that I am doing something over and over again ... it`s probably time to try something new and grow. That`s how it works with the web.FWIW if you`re combining CSS with tables, you might as well not bother and stick to HTML 4.0. There`s really no point of using CSS unless you`re up to XHTML. NIKOLE!!! YES!!! CSS is the way to go... I just created a full web site in Division tags and CSS... It was a challenge but you know what, it downloads faster and I can shut the division tags off and on whenever the customer clicks on items. This is good when you are creating forms.. NIKOLE, How busy are you? would you like to collaborate on a few projects together?
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    DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
    Hi, just a note, the first version WAS done all in CSS.  Well, I take that back, actually the form isn`t, but that`s because I was in a hurry.  That`s a challenge I set for myself when originally designing this thing, to see if I could do the layout all in CSS.  And (except for the form fields) I did.  Steve, I appreciated your detailed post.  A few notes--The thick top border was a whim, but I`ve been thinking of redoing it.  The gray borders on the sides are the same width, I believe, but they may appear different because of the angle of light on the entire thing.  The W in Websites is not supposed to be bold.  It may just be the way it comes out in that typeface, but I`ll double check.  I haven`t seen any color "seams" on any of the monitors I`ve used, so it`s probably something with the way yours displays it.  Not sure what to do about that.Good point about the border.  I hadn`t really thought about what website borders "mean."  I`m still at a loss about what the design SHOULD look like, if not these.  I guess I`ll keep mulling it over.
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    vwebworldvwebworld subscriber Posts: 40
    I`m still at a loss about what the design SHOULD look like, if not these.  I guess I`ll keep mulling it over.
    Other people may not design the site the same as you. While feedback is good, it is your site.
    It is far easier for people to say what they do not like than offer what they do like.
    The critical parts of a web design are that it effectively communicates your message, is user friendly, and is relevant to the viewer`s needs.  that can be accomplished with a wide variety of website designs.
    A "dated" look is not bad just because it is dated... there are many designs that use dated graphics and fonts as part of their design..and ad program.
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    DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
    Steve--again, thank you for your detailed comments.  I haven`t made any changes to my site design yet because I have several potential clients wanting me to get design ideas for them, and I`m making them a priority.  (Trying to find someone with a more artistic eye to come up with designs, also, but so far not much luck.)  Just wanted to let you know I`m not ignoring you.
    Roland--thank you for your encouragement.
    Nikole--I looked at the Wikipedia article on XHTML, because I haven`t heard much about it from other people, and I found out why I haven`t heard much about it.  According to WikiP, it`s not much different from HTML 4.0--just a couple of rules like making all tags lowercase and closing all tags.  Also, they said that most browsers aren`t set up to render XHTML in any special way, so they treat it as HTML.  AND the people in charge of such things are apparently working on XHTML 2.0, which will be radically different, and will replace the current XHTML.  So, I`m thinking, what`s the point of using it?  What`s better about that than valid HTML 4?  If you have some insight, I`d be interested to hear it.
    When you talked about it a few posts back, it sounded like it was some exalted thing, but I don`t see it.
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    DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
    Nikole, that`s cool.  I don`t mean to be argumentative (maybe I am anyway), but I guess what I specifically want to know is, do you see a great advantage between using validated HTML 4.0 and XHTML.  I mean, that little "slop" example you pasted wouldn`t validate in the W3C tool, would it?  I see the point of using valid code.  I just am not sure that one needs to insist on XHTML.
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