iWeb is the perfect app for what it is designed to do, make fairly good looking web sites simply and quickly. Thanks to its clever use of iWeb themes all you have to do is add a bit of content, publish to the WWW, give everyone and anyone your URL and you’re away; an online presence in minutes.
It is the use of themes however which acts as something of an Achilles heel. Being limited it only takes a number of iWeb sites to use the same theme before visitors get fed up of looking at the same site, over and over again. In this post I have compiled a list of things that you should try to avoid to stop your iWeb site looking like everybody elses iWeb site and looking like you only took 10 minutes to build it.
Before I start, I just wanted to say that all of these ideas are just that, ideas. They are not hard and fast rules. When you view as many iWeb sites as I do everyday you begin to notice the many similarities between iWeb sites and this post is as a result of that.
Lose the default photographs.
You will be surprised how many iWeb sites I have come across where the designer has left some of the default photos in place. Not that there is anything wrong with the standard pictures that Apple gives us with iWeb but it is supposed to be your site not theirs. If you haven’t got a photo to replace the one that already appears in the theme then delete the one that is already there.
Don’t use the Darkroom theme.
Sooooo many people use the DarkRoom theme and for soooo many different iWeb sites. If there is one thing that cries out ‘This is an iWeb site’ it is the DarkRoom theme. It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong but when all the sites look the same it says to a visitor ‘I have no personality of my own, I have to copy everyone else’ and that can’t be a good thing can it?
Watch where you’re putting those Google Adsense ads.
If you run a business site which has been designed in iWeb why are you advertising other peoples things on your site? Are they advertising your products on theirs? Google Ads are a good thing (I have them and I am not complaining about the little bit of beer money they bring me in each month) but they need to be used at the right time on the right site. Plastering Google Ads all over your site detracts from the main content and really upsets visitors to your site, who can quite easily find another site just as good as yours simply by clicking the back button to Google.
Pick your palette wisely.
Below is a screen shot of an iWeb site (using the DarkRoom theme) that is related to fashion.
Your iWeb site, or indeed any web site reflects you and your product. If you are a fashionista and you have a badly designed web site what does that say about your fashion skills? There are many free sites available that allow you to pick suitable color palettes for your iWeb site so that you don’t mix lime green with bright pink with dark gray.
All you have to do is put in the base color of your site and it will give a a couple of other colors that will go with that base color so your site will look lovely. I use Kuler from Adobe all the time.
Woah!! How many fonts?
Just because your Mac comes with hundreds of great fonts it doesn’t mean you have to use most of them on your iWeb site. You run across 2 problems if you fill your pages full of bizarre looking text; firstly people who visit your site won’t be able to read what you are trying to say and secondly people who visit your site and don’t have the font installed on the PC won’t see the font as you intended and your beautiful iWeb site may look even worse. Stick to just a couple of fonts and, if your design allows all serif or all sans-serif; and always, but always use at least one of the standard fonts.
Change the theme a little.
iWeb comes with plenty of well designed themes but you do know that it is possible to change a theme to make it look a bit less standard, right? Something as simple as changing the width of your page from the default 700 px (using Inspector) can make a world of difference. But you don’t have to stop there, you can delete some of the elements or change their colors slightly just to give your iWeb site a unique look. Experiment, you may be surprised what can be achieved with minimum effort. Try clicking on an element which is part of an iWeb theme and then using the ‘Adjust’ tool to change brightness, contrast or tint to give pages a new look.
Please lose the hit counter.
Hit counters used to be considered the ‘must have’ item on a web site, but that was back in the 90s. Now we are in 2011 the hit counter really has no place in modern web design. I agree that it is nice to know how many people have visited your site on a certain day but that is what Google Analytics was invented for. When a user visits your site and discovers that only 27 other people have visited what sort of impression does that give? I rest my case.
Can you think of any other items that you have seen on lots of iWeb sites (other than the Made on a Mac badge) that makes them stand out as iWeb sites? Leave a comment and let us know!