Website Design Help

I mostly lurk on this forum, but I’ve picked up quite a bit from you guys and just wanted some opinions/advice.

I’m currently doing a website for a family member of mine for very cheap. He’s an attorney who is trying to bolster his business with some e-presence. The design was initially approved before I began coding, but now they want the website to be "warmer". Design has never been my strong point, so I was wondering if anyone could suggest any quick changes I could make to make the website a little warmer before I take it back to her for final approval so I can get their hosting set up.

My initial reaction is to change the font and maybe the header picture to something with more color. Any other ideas?

Thanks in advance

Ignoring the "warmer" part, I’d make the following changes

– change font to an arial/sans serif variant
– white background around the main body div, to break up the grey
– create some space between the top of the browser and the hand shake image
– add a multicultural stock image of a small group of people smiling. One should be in a wheelchair (No more than that though, or it’ll look like you’re an ambulance chaser)
– Consider adding some color to the business name overlaying the hands. Its a black and white image, and you have white text over it. Boring.
– Round off the corners of the main border

I didn’t notice he practices family law. Regarding the aforementioned stock image…make sure the group of people can’t be mistaken for a family. Shouldn’t have a happy family on a divorce attorneys website. Its too ironic.

Its a weak color scheme overall. Play with some different color sets.

Thanks

Some good ideas. Looking at it now, I can’t believe I didn’t put some space between the main body and top. It just looks stupid.

Some very good advice. Regarding the "warmer" thing – this might be improved by using a non-greyscale image in the header.

Rounded corners and a more interesting (not busy) background might also help.

By the way, the page is messed up in IE6.

Alright. I changed the grayscale image to color and made the font more friendly (in addition to adding some whitespace at the top).

I think it’s a huge improvement already. My brother is convinced that the front page looks "weird" with its current layout.. is anyone else seeing that?

Yeah. I haven’t completely finished compatibility testing

Fuuuuu.. should I even worry about IE6? It doesn’t even support .png

yeah I would worry about IE6 with this site

I’d just pick up a template monster template if you’re doing law site…

Meh. I told them that I’d design them something custom. I don’t feel right selling templates to people who might not know better. If I’m going to design a website for someone, I’d rather get hands on and do it (might as well work on my design aesthetic… because it sucks right now and could use honing)

I got all the problems fixed . I think it looked worse than it was and scared me a bit.

This. People better at design than you (or me, or lots of us) have put their skills into layouts that are really good (for the price).. as long as the client knows the deal, and knows that they’re getting a GOOD deal by doing it that way, then it’s all good in my books

get a professionally created web template (maybe from monster template?).

He’s a lawyer. He has money. This site is going to represent his business.

^^word…

lawyer sites are pretty localized anyway, so even for some 1 in-a-million chance you do find another site using the same template, oh well.

and TM templates are VERY cheap in terms of getting a design + coded already.

I actually have re-sliced every TM template I’ve ever bought and modded it a bit for my clients, so that makes it a bit more custom.

This is what i was going to mention. Get a template and then cusotmize it. That way you are not starting from scratch and you have aa slid base.

As far as like e-commerce templates, they have real good ones there but obvious changes are needed tfor usability. Same im sure with the static site ones as well.

Is my design really that bad?

I’ll keep the template idea in mind for the future, but I’ve already told them that they were getting a custom website and don’t want to go back on that this far into the project. They don’t have nearly enough information etc. for most of the most templates anyway.

^^word…

lawyer sites are pretty localized anyway, so even for some 1 in-a-million chance you do find another site using the same template, oh well.

and TM templates are VERY cheap in terms of getting a design + coded already.

I actually have re-sliced every TM template I’ve ever bought and modded it a bit for my clients, so that makes it a bit more custom.

Yeah, I can’t imagine a situation where you shouldn’t. Out of the box, they are WAY too template-y

Is my design really that bad?

I’ll keep the template idea in mind for the future, but I’ve already told them that they were getting a custom website and don’t want to go back on that this far into the project. They don’t have nearly enough information etc. for most of the most templates anyway.

Bad? No
Good enough? No :

They told me they liked the look of this website

One thing I’m confused about – why is the heading in the banner a PNG image? Why not just use regular styled text?
Same goes for the navigation.

Anyway, I played around in Photoshop for 5 minutes as I thought the main problem was your background – it was too plain and gave the design a very bland look.

I think it gives the design a bit more life to it, but there are still things that could be improved – small things like making the "Call now" button 2.0 style, making the "Areas of practice" section a bit more lively, and to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the header.

Anyway, feel free to use any of those ideas.

One thing I’m confused about – why is the heading in the banner a PNG image? Why not just use regular styled text?
Same goes for the navigation.

Anyway, I played around in Photoshop for 5 minutes as I thought the main problem was your background – it was too plain and gave the design a very bland look.

I think it gives the design a bit more life to it, but there are still things that could be improved – small things like making the "Call now" button 2.0 style, making the "Areas of practice" section a bit more lively, and to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the header.

Anyway, feel free to use any of those ideas.

Some great ideas. Thanks a lot. I’m in the process of looking for a new header.

edit: the header is a .png image for the drop shadow