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Table Salt And Graphics

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Bob McElwain


Bob McElwain

Bob McElwain

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Bob McElwain has written 3 articles for WebKnowHow.
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Most of us sprinkle a bit of salt over our meal before digging in. Although sufficient quantities were likely used in the kitchen. In doing so, we seek to add just a tad to the flavor. To heighten it just enough to suit our personal taste.

If you do this sort of thing routinely, you have faced the utter disaster of adding a tad too much. Sure. You eat it, because there's nothing left in the kitchen. But what you'd like to do is trash it, for it tastes awful.

Graphics And Salt

Graphics on a website are like table salt. Sprinkled tastefully about the edges, the images and colors can add a distinct flavor to the site. They may speak of a company that knows what it's about. And they may provide an instant boost in credibility. Each visitor can grasp all this in a glance.

However a tad too much, and the site becomes unpalatable. Like your dinner when the lid falls off the salt shaker.

It's Words That Sell, Not Graphics

You've heard this before. Probably many times. Yet hearing it, believing it's so, then making sure your site demonstrates your conviction -- this is a whole different ball game.

On far too many sites I visit, this has been either totally ignored or at best, half-heartedly implemented. If you have not embraced this concept, your site is handicapped. And significant profits remain illusive.

A Real Life Example

I was recently asked to evaluate a site launched by an offline business that has been successful for nearly thirty years. Here's what a visitor discovers in the opening screen.

First, a two-word graphic message comes up in about 10 seconds. For the purpose of these notes, let's say the words are, "Your Partners."

Later, a title bar begins to load at the top of the screen, a few vertical pixels at a time. Lots of words here. Options. So many, they hide each other.

The one meaningful phrase to the right, is off the screen on most monitors. Even if visible, it is ignored, as the visitor anxiously awaits something of significance to load. (Note they've already given up on "Your Partners," for there's no clue to what this might mean.)

Next, graphic menus begin to load to the left. Confusion reigns. All is stated in the jargon of this business. A visitor unacquainted with it, sees nothing worthy of a click.

At last a graphic loads to the right. A large one. Dominating the screen. I'm sure some artist is convinced this image, of itself, says everything needed about the wonderful services available on this site. Affordability. The great support. And so forth. All without a word of text on the screen.

The image includes one of a computer, a monitor, a keyboard,
and a fourth item I could not identify. It says nothing at all
to anyone except the original artist.

Long before this image loads completely (about 40 seconds), most visitors have fled.

The Fix

Dump the graphics, and in words, tell me what you can do for me. Demonstrate I can no longer survive without your services. That they're not only the best available, but far less costly than elsewhere.

If it looks as if you may have what I need, I'll stumble along through your wordy presentations, ignore some misspelled words and lousy grammar, in hopes of finding a solution to my problem.

You may not convince me to accept your offer, but you won't even get the chance to lay it out for me, if you show me only graphics in that first screen.

Can You Be Honest With Yourself?

While this isn't easy to do, you must. It's the only way to obtain a flawless site. One that gets the job done.

A site that fails hurts more than it helps. When asked what I would recommend to improve the site briefly described above, I urged it be taken down to forestall further damage. You may need to do the same. Then set about getting it right.

Back To Salt

When cooking, most add a bit of salt to bring up flavor. But care is taken not to add too much. For each person at the table has their own preference when adding more. And we do not salt the food of our guests, for we know nothing of their tastes.

When considering the graphic background for your site, do as a good cook does with salt. Add enough to heighten the flavor for most. Then quit. Your personal preferences may be intolerable to others.


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