Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the September 4, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Dissecting Good Website Design
PageHealer is a website about websites that is just
about as good as a website can be. A sales tool of a company by the
same name, PageHealer lays out the do’s and don’t’s of smashing website
design with elegant simplicity. Much of this instruction comes in
the form of advice — free advice! — that Emily Holmes,
PageHealer’s co-owner, dispenses to those who submit their websites
Holmes speaks on "Shopping for Website Design" on Tuesday,
September 10, at 5:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Clifton at a dinner
meeting of the Somerset/Hunterdon NJAWBO chapter. Cost: $28. Call
A graduate of Duke, where she studied art history and design, Holmes
has been designing websites since 1995. Her company, based in Bloomsbury,
offers custom web design for a client roster that includes Columbia
University, the Soros Foundation, Hunterdon Hills Playhouse, and the
Albert Schweitzer Institute. The company also offers web design packages,
which are built around templates, but include substantial customization,
and allow for unlimited content update.
For $749.99, for example, PageHealer’s Super Site offers domain setup
and hosting, professional design, customized colors and logo, and
10 E-mail addresses, and five editable regions. For $550 more, PageHealer
offers 25 E-mail addresses and unlimited editable regions. More details
are available at the company’s website, www.webhealer.com
Also at the website is that advice section. It is extensive, and is
one fine way for website owners to figure out if they are on the right
track. It also serves as an instruction booklet for anyone thinking
of shooting a business into cyberspace.
Located, logically enough, under the heading "Advice," this
section lists requests for website evaluation on the left. Click on
any one and see a page from the website being critiqued (gently) along
with detailed commentary on what is wrong — and right — with
Looking over the website of an online wine retailer, Holmes points
out that there are a number of typos, that text links at the bottom
of the page don’t match the graphic at the top (Wine List and Wine
list), and that the order form feels "very separate" from
the rest of the site. She ends her analysis by asking: "Is it
possible for you to build the site so people can purchase wines directly
from the wine list page? If not, you might consider at least repeating
the page in the order form section so people can see the full list
and choose from it. As it is now, I have to click an awful lot to
place just a few items in my cart."
Among the suggestions Holmes makes to the owner of a baby products
website is that she give her site a more professional look by developing
her own shopping cart system, rather than using PayPal.
She questions whether the owner of a Private Investigation website
really wants to use a purple typeface. "Is that your logo?"
she asks. "If so, you might want to re-think it, or at the very
least, consider the contradiction created by the purple text and the
old-English style text in the nav bar. You are sending mixed messages
about your corporate identity, and this can subconsciously lessen
your credibility in the minds of your users."
Right off the bat, she questions whether a technology school should
use a splash page to introduce its website. Often dramatic and sometimes
beautiful, many users consider these intro pages — which can take
forever to load — a giant pain. Of splash pages, Holmes says:
"As a usability advocate, I haven’t yet seen one that was really
Holmes signs her website analyses "Doctor of Design." Judging
from her critiques, she is a knowledgeable doctor with a fine bedside
manner, mixing praise with constructive criticism and never condescending.
While many web designers talk about the elements of good web design,
peeking over Holmes’ shoulder provides a unique vantage point from
which to understand how the smallest elements affect the success —
or failure — of a website.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.