What makes you go 'WOW THAT'S COOL' when looking at websites?

I am in the process of designing a website. I have all the time in the world, this is not a rushed project. Funding the site is no biggy, I want to do it right, including possibly hiring someone for some parts of it. But I was wondering, what do the teeming millions look for in a quality site?

Any designers out there who can point me in the right direction for some really cool back grounds, enhancements?
How about the “wow” factor? What makes a website really stand out appart from the rest in your opinion?

And what the heck are banners used for, and do I need them, if so, how do I obtain them? I know they promote other peoples sites/organizations…but is there money involved?

Keep it simple and clearly structured.

This is a great example of solid design, IMHO. I am not kidding.

Wow, fishcheer, that site hurts my eyes.

Phlosphr… what makes a good website is highly subjective. IMO I like simpler easy to follow sites without a lot of flashing crap and annoying color combinations.

What are you making the site for? That has a lot of merit here as a site to show off that adorable kitty, brave doggie and awesome treehouse would be structured differently than one designed to give you students course info and links to related materials.

Banners aren’t necessary unless you need to advertise or want people to advertise on your site. Are you planning to get your own domain? A big wow factor for me is no annoying pop-ups and a minimum of advertising crap cluttering things up and obscuring the real content.

Parallax made our site so people could keep up with the growth of our family and stuff. We really like it but we should since we made it :slight_smile: You can peek and say ‘there’s something I like what is that’ or ‘ok I definitely do not like that what is that so I can avoid it.’

As fishcheer15 stated, keep it simple and clearly structured. A cluttered web site that is difficult to read or navigate will turn your visitors away quickly. Also be sure that your links are working and kept fresh. A site that shows “link rot”, that is, has a lot of outdated links, will also turn away visitors and leave them with the impression that you don’t maintain your site very often or very well.

Also, a lot of “wow” stuff tends to get old quickly, especially if your site is likely to attract repeat or regular visitors. Things like flash animation, music, etc. lose their novelty fast. People with slow connections also won’t like having to wait for these extras to download.

If there are specific types of images or backgrounds you would like, a simple search on Google’s images will likely yield something to your liking.

Banners are usually paid advertisements. Unlike pop-ups, which appear in their own windows, banners are inline with the main page. They aren’t quite as annoying, although the “shoot the monkey” and the seizure-inducing “WINNER!” ads piss me off to no end. I don’t know how one goes about getting banner advertisers signed up for your site, but I’m sure someone else will be along to provide this information.

If you Google for “web site design” or “web site design tips” you will get several hits on the dos and don’ts of building a web site.

The site is for my side job designing spaces for children, adults, elderly, classrooms, hospital rooms, etc…etc… My budget is high and I would like it to be well kept. No damaged or not working links, certainly no pop-ups and a nice forum to see my portfolio and capabilities. I want it to look very professional…

Keep It Simple, Silly.

At the risk of trumpeting my own horn, I submit my site for an example (link below). Lean, mean, to the point, and standards-compliant.

The problem with “WOW THATS COOL” is that it is seldom seen in conjunction with a clean,fast loading and easy to navigate site.
Check out Web Pages That Suck" for more.

Also some shameless sounding of a wind instrument,Idid my running club website. I personaly think its a good clean design with as much content and little “fat” as possible.

  • Appropriate use of Flash animation is nice (>200kb if possible).
  • Clean lines, consistant style
  • White background with black text, not using a patterned wallpaper in the main frame
  • Links that make sense and proper arrangement (everything should be accessed by 5 clicks at the most)
  • Thumbnails for larger photos and small appropriate picture files(>10kb)
  • Avoid animated GIFs - they’re tacky
  • Avoid the white outlines on pictures, and give them enough resolution with a 800x1024 display in mind.

If you are designing spaces, you will probably want nice looking images reflecting what you do. I personally like websites that have lots of graphics, nice colors, and good visual design (not all text). My website is the opposite of clean simple text…but it is by no means my idea of a great website, but put it at the end here anyway; it is a good example of a website in need of some more organization (I’m working on that)…

Check this one out, it’s one of my favorites:


Basically, when doing Flash sites I guess it can go either way; really really cool, or really really too much effects and chessy. The above example definately belongs to the former, IMHO.

PS The content of the above mentioned site is not bad either - I didn’t bookmark it just for the design :slight_smile:

I’d go with the “Rule of Fives” as Rabid_Squirrel said.

Also, and this is a pet peeve of mine, make it standards compliant, and test it in other browsers. People who intentionally exclude you from their website because you aren’t using ie6.0+win2k or whatever they use just astound me. Why intentionally exclude 20% or more of your audience because you can’t be bothered to make a site everyone can see. Maddening.

I would think that some of your skills in designing spaces should be applicable, it is just a conceptual space. Well organized, group similar things, be aware that some people are on dialup and can’t download 10Mb flash animations (see excluding customers, above.)

When all is said and done, run it through the W3 org HTML validator this will make sure you have good HTML (However, test it in all the browsers, they aren’t all compliant, you may need to tweak.)

Don’t use anything fancy by default. If you want to impress some one with your knowledge of Flash, put a link to it. Make it optional, not mandatory.

If you think you need to tell people “you need version X or higher of Y”, you are doing it completely wrong. Many people have no choice in the matter. Ditto window resolution, etc.

No sound, ever.

Don’t do anything “outside your window”. Assume that people are running 20 tasks and have a dozen pages within their browser. You do not own their machine, just a few square pixels of it.

Look up what the W3 recommends. Note that frames are deprecated. Fancy is not good. “Cool” is definitely not good as abused by most so-called web designers.

Do not try to micromanage the look of your site. Putting in tiny gifs to line things up right, etc. You are just making it uglier for many people.

Use tables for tables, not nested layout.

Think of function first and foremost. The page has a job to do. Make it do that job.

The more you know about human interface design, the better. 99.99999% of all web pages are designed as if people were never intended to use them.

Don’t do things like surveys. You will get numbers but absolutely no data.

Oh my gosh, I could go on and on.

Web design is hard. I’ve never been good at it, although I can write HTML with ease and know a few web programming languages. The design is the real hard part.

I’m definitely an amateur at it, but I’ve had to use it on occasion. I look at ftg’s list and think how much more difficult it is when you follow what he says, but he is exactly right. Following everything in his post can make a web site 100% better.
I know that every website that I’ve thought “what a cool looking website” I’ve never had to use regularly to get information. Websites that I use everyday, I’ve never really noticed the layout; the information is easy to find and readable. The layout doesn’t distract, and that’s what makes the sites good.

And when you go to test it in other browsers, make sure you use Mozilla, too. The Best Buy website used to be so great; it was quick and easy for me, but still flashy enough to attract everyday joes. The new website is really gaudy and doesn’t line up right in Mozilla.

My wife and I are quite satisfied with how we made her art site:


But I’d love some feedback on the design.

wow! Thank you very much. With the semester starting soon, I’d love to get a concept design done soon, before students start hording my office.

  • I have a large portfolio with lot’s of high quality professional pics. I’d want them all thumbnailed in a portfolio section. Preferably white on black for back ground.

  • What is the best size for Thumbs, is there an industry standard?

  • What about icon’s? I have a few created, I love to utilize them. One in particular to represent my site. I’d also like it fully interactive for students to use and get ideas.

  • Finally, copyright. I want to stamp each pic I have with my website and try to prevent as much as possible my copyrighted designs from being used. is it possible?

Animation is bad.
Flash is bad.
Flash is bad.
Did I mention that Flash is bad?
Javascript is bad unless you have a 100% functional noscript page, too.
Javascript is worse than Flash.
Have I mentioned that Javascript is worse than Flash.
It is better to inhale 10,000 farts from a dog than to use Javascript.
Javascript is bad.
Lots of pictures loading is bad.
Large files to load is bad.
Sound is bad.
Sound is bad.
Sound is bad bad bad.
It’s almost as bad as Flash and worse than animation.
Neon bold-face text on a dark background is so bad that it screams “please remove me from the gene pool while inflicting much pain upon me”
Flashing text should be considered a form of “neon” for extermination eligibility purposes.
Popups are vile. Popups are vile. Popups are vile.

Did I mention that popups are vile?

Dogface - will you design my site for me? :slight_smile:

It’s really simple: Leave off all the fancy “WOW” stuff. It only slows down browsing and annoys people.

If you want to know how good your site really is, find a computer connected with a 56k modem at least 100 miles away from where your server is.

Browse your site.

You will learn to hate “cool” features as much as I do.

There are thumbnailing programs. They do a good job of it.

Presume a total screen resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels. This seems to be the current “standard”. Thus, a picture that is 100 pixels wide would be a bit less than 1/7 the screen across. Is that a “thumbnail” to your mind? Also, loading a lot of pictures, even thumbnails, is SLOW and annoying. Break them up among pages.

Before it can be “interactive” you must first tell us what you mean by “interactive”. I know some folks who think that “interactive” means “lots of stupid javascript doodads that make splashy colors”. Others mean “bulletin board”. As for the property of an icon, that’s a matter between you and the icon. Oh, did you mean the PLURAL of “icon”?

The best you can do is Digimark watermarking or a similar process. Guess what–it can be rather trivially defeated. The only way to keep web graphics (including pictures) from being stolen is to never put them on the web at all, under any circumstances. I’ve seen Javascript attempts to stop it, but they’re truly laughably pathetic. If I were wanting to do art theft, I’d just turn off everything that could stop me.

Good idea. Thanks. Will do. Seriously though, the site is going to be professionaly put together and hosted on a huge server, I just needed ideas…yours are definitely going to be heeded.