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Flamingos That Kill

deadly flamingo
Every day more horse breeders join the online community realizing the value of the internet as a marketing tool to promote stallions, services, and sell horses. Some succeed and others fail. The downfall of many equine-related web sites can be attributed to the voracious and often elusive Killer Flamingos.

What are Killer Flamingos? Common website design mistakes and garish adornments that impede the success, usability, and presentation of hundreds thousands of equine web sites worldwide.

Let's learn how to 1.) identify and 2.) eradicate these classic, plastic, insufferable pink flamingos from our online equine sanctuaries, and return them to the trailer parks from whence they came.

Flamingo Characteristics & Habitats

cliche animationA Virtual Yard Sale - Cutesy clip art, unicorns and rainbows, the same animation every one has already seen at ten other sites, multi-colored backgrounds with numerous different colors and sizes of fonts, pictures that sprawl all over the place, too many pictures to a page... basically, pink flamingos in the yard.

While this might work on a pre-teens gaming page, it has little value in the multi-billion dollar a year equestrian business. It's busy, it's confusing, it's... Ugly. Think of it like this: if this was your high profile breed journal ad you'd never, ever include such design elements. Don't allow your web site to become a clown car.

Functional Illiteracy - Flamingos have their own language and are terrified of dictionaries. Similarly, the online equestrian community is habitually defeated by words with a single vowel. Apparently, no one can spell. If adults are supposed to be Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, America's fifth graders are in trouble. If online equestrians are complaining about today's public schools not challenging students enough, or touting the virtues of the one room schoolhouse they attended (after walking seven miles to school in the snow), or lamenting English is no longer the nation's prevailing language, odds are they need to grab a dictionary themselves. Keep "flamingospeak" and its folksier cousin "hillbillyspeak" off your web site and you'll earn a gold star on your report card.

Big Horse - Small Site - It's a downright tragedy that some of the same people that spend thousands and thousands of dollars a year on advertising and promoting a big ticket horse join the race to the internet with a site that does not reflect their standard of excellence. Sloppy mask jobs and lackluster layout have no place here.

The Mask Of Zorro - Bad masking jobs abound both on "home made" and equine web sites created by many designers. There's a bit more to image retouching than plunking down several hundred dollars for Adobe Photoshop. Bad masking jobs make horses look like they were cut out of their original background with a dull knife. Critters appear to float above ground and look as though they lost a game of "pin the fake tail on the donkey." Not complimentary. Not professional. Not classy. Such efforts have no place on a quality equine web site.

Pages That Don't Fit - While some are lucky enough to own a supersized monitor, the sad fact is many people do not. Horizontal scrolling to the edge of the screen is annoying, makes a site appear disjointed, and difficult to navigate. With the proliferation of blogging software and poorly formatted online galleries, vertical scrolling has become the problem horizontal scrolling used to be. Some pages can scroll several feet from top to bottom, and there's no defense for such poor design choices.

Fat Horse Graphics R Us - One or two high quality images take a significant amount of download time. They'd better be worth the wait. Most are not. Many sites have twenty - thirty - even fifty or more full-size images per page, taking several minutes to fully load. This is also a favorite vice of many bloggers, where flamingos typically roost in the spaces between their images.

Discretion is the better part of artwork. Breaking up content is another solution. Professionals should know the difference.

Special Effects That Aren't Very Special - Pray tell, what's the intrigue of a flashing 3-D text logo? What circumstances warrant the proliferation of predictable and tiresome Flash intros? After the first two or three blinks or fades, what then? It's like the refrigerator light- will it still be on when I go to bed? Will it blink if I visit again? Was the load time worth it? Was it remotely interesting or skillful? Would something else have been more appropriate or valuable from a presentation standpoint?

Time For The Eye Doctor - Background images in colors five shades outside of what is found in nature. Blue amoebas, red rage, orange crush, chartreuse squiggles, pink paisley, etc. These backgrounds look like a visit to a Chinese restaurant while tripping on acid. There hasn't been a color of text yet that you can read over these. Pages like this could cause a seizure under the right circumstances.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation - Too much free time and FrontPage or DreamWeaver can be a dangerous combination in the wrong hands. Even though the mechanics of creating a web site may seem simple, it's the final product that counts. Just as people pay for 'shank power' at the World show, some things are best left to professionals. Again- it's all presentation.

Fonts The Size Of Cats - Text so large you can read it from outside the house through the lace curtains. Fonts this size take up valuable real estate and create too much distance between content areas. Again... ugly and amateurish. Sites like this surely cause Gutenburg to roll in his grave.

Design That Isn't - Scanning print ads, whacking them into smaller pieces, laying the pieces out in tables format, and calling the results a web site. No- that's a webpage, if you will. Charging anything more than a 'per scan' charge is practically theft. Worse, some designers actually employ this technique for their own web sites.

Copycat Copycat, Shame On Them - There is a significant, if not legal, difference between inspiration and imitation. When one designer has a hit with a layout or scheme, it seems to re-appear everywhere. What's worse, many of the 'violators' are using other people's ideas, images, and text and marketing them as their own in order to compete against the same person they 'borrowed' from. These are probably the same people who always 'traced' instead of sketched in elementary school. Put these hacks in a room with ten monkeys for a million years working at a computer 24 hours a day... they'd just steal from the monkeys.

Decompression Chamber - Seems some people are scared to death the internet police might red flag their site if they don't compress their graphics enough. While sophisticated compression techniques are used to reduce an image's file size, some go way overboard and present an image of a horse that looks like he was stoned to death before he was pulled in ten different directions by wild dogs. Don't compromise the very asset you are presenting to pacify horseless web critics. In this business the horses have to look exceptional. Don't disappoint your intended audience.

Free Host Provider's Pop Up Ads - God deliver us. It is an affront to the senses to endure pop-up ads broadcasted by many of the free host providers. Be sure this also broadcasts: "We believe in our horses - but we don't believe it's worth paying to host our horse's web site. Please ignore those popup windows and enjoy your visit." Remember: anything that gives your viewers a negative experience reflects upon you and your farm. Don't ruin your first impression irritating your viewers to save a few dollars a month with a host that requires you display their popup window advertising.

Parting Confirmation Shots - It's con-for-mation. Horses don't have good or bad confirmation photos. They have conformation photos. Likewise, a horse is not "out of" its sire. It is by the sire and "out of" the dam. The trot is not a "gate," it's a gait. Any one creating a web site for horsemen should know the difference. It's embarrassing how many do not. Abysmal grammar isn't any more acceptable on an equine website than anywhere else, regardless of how common it may be.

Flamingo Solutions

Contact Equine Web Design for professional equine web site development assistance, as well as makeover and consulting services for existing web sites. We'll humanely trap, remove, and release pink flamingos from your online habitat.