Always keep your goal in mind

There is one overriding reason to have a web site.  That reason, quite simply, is to make you money.  If a site doesn't improve your bottom line, it's time to re-think your strategy.

Too often, people get caught up in the bells and whistles... animation, pictures, flashy graphics and sound.  These design elements certainly have their place, but only when including them results in a positive customer experience that will bring more revenue to your business.

The following table provides additional information of some site elements that can turn off customers.

Design Element What is it? Comments
Use with caution
Frames are used to break a web page into individually scrolling areas.  Typically there will be two frames - one across the top or left side that contains navigation controls ("hyperlinks" to other pages in the web site), and another that holds the actual page content.  Frames can simply site navigation and speed page delivery, but there can be a downside. Search engines have a hard time with frames, so this can adversely affect your ranking in searches. Also, printing pages from your site becomes trickier. The browser by default will print the contents of the frame that last had mouse activity - usually the navigation controls.
Clip Art
Use sparingly
Clip Art is widely available graphic images that can be included in documents, desktop publishing and web pages.  Have you been in a computer store lately?  250,000 piece clip art libraries go for $29.  Where do all those pictures end up?  Unfortunately, much of it winds up on the web. Clip art is often included on a page to make it "interesting", "flashy" or "cool". If the graphics enhance the message of the page then it's great.   The problem occurs when people choose pictures that have very little to do with the content of the page, which dilutes the point you are trying to make.

It's even worse if you use popular clip art that your visitors could have seen elsewhere.

Animated Clip Art
Use sparingly
Like the clip art we described above, except it moves, blinks or changes color. The human eye is immediately drawn toward things that move.  So using animated pictures can be a tremendous technique to draw attention to key points of your message. 

However, animated "extras" do just the opposite by focusing attention away from your message.

Do you want people to learn about your products or be mesmerized by the envelope that flies away?

Background Music or Sound Effects that can't be turned off Usually Flash, MIDI or .WAV files, they begin to play as soon as the page loads. Multimedia effects can significantly enhance the user's experience on your web site... or may drive them away in droves, never to return.  It's important to give  people choices.

The problem arises on sites that don't give the visitor any option.   Music and sound effects may prevent people from comfortably visiting your site from work, school, or the local internet cafe.

Background music rarely relates to the content of the page, further diluting your sales message.

Background pictures and poorly contrasting text
Usually someone grabbed a clip art image and decided it would be a cool background.  Then they colored the text for a real "artsy" effect. Too bad they'll have to squint to read what's on the page.  Most folks won't bother, they'll just head to your competitor's site.
Background colors and poorly contrasting text
For people who don't have clip art libraries, they just color the background (usually black) and make the text a color that clashes. Same as above.

Here's a link to sample page we did years ago that grossly exaggerates the effects of bad design. Click here to view.