By Joe Burns

Concern #2: OK! Now we're talking. Now I can do something. I have arrived at a home page. Don went with frames, but didn't think through the design quite well enough. Here's a rule of thumb when it comes to frames: there should only ever be one scroll bar and it should always be on the right side of the frame, not on the bottom. In other words, the left frame should never be so wide that it forces the user to scroll to the right to see the whole frame.

Suggestion: Redo the left navigation bar so that the frame isn't so wide. People don't like vertical scroll bars all that much, but they can live with them. Horizontal scroll bars, on the other hand, drive people nuts. Lose that one at all costs. And, always test your pages in smaller screen resolutions to be sure you've lost the horizontal bar. It may come back at 800X600. I see that the menu on the left expands when someone clicks on a link. Great. I like that look. The scroll bar still comes into play though. Make a real point of losing it.

Concern #3: I see this a lot on frame formats. The left frame is supposed to be the navigation bar, yet on the home page there are more links.

Suggestion: Pick a format and stick with it. You have chosen the link to be in the left -hand side and the pages to appear in the right. Stay with that. I love the links you offer in the right; just don't offer them in that location. Put them over in the left hand side, where you have decided the links will be. Frame formats scream for order. Keep that order across all pages.

Concern #4: The logo on the navigation frame is way too large - plus, I don't know that it should be there. I might keep a very small logo there, just large enough so that people know what the image is. The message will be reinforced in the right frame. Read below.

Suggestion: May I suggest you place that logo across the top of the pages that appear in the right-hand frame? That way you free up a **ton** of space in the left frame window. Plus - each page that appears in the right frame looks a lot like letterhead. That will look very professional.

Concern #5: I read a great deal of "Success Leads to Expansion," the section on the homepage. It was very good. It deserves to be a separate page.

Suggestion: Again, by putting your logo across the top of the pages that appear in the right, you can make that wonderful piece appear to be a memo on letterhead. That would keep consistency across pages and give a more professional, business look to the site. The home page shouldn't be where you offer information. The homepage should be a page of links to all the information of the site.

Overall: Don, you're going to hate me for asking this because it will mean a total site redesign, but here goes: There are sites out there that simply lend themselves to frame formats. Your site does not. You offer too much information in a format that frames can't handle. Your homepage would look a great deal better as a single page with links listed down the left side or across the top of the page. You asked in your SOS e-mail why the site isn't working. The main reason is because you have a site that doesn't fit in the frames format. You are a business that must look professional at all times. The frame format you have now looks very clumsy and reflects poorly on your business.

Please don't think me mean - I read a great deal of your stuff and I think your taking the time to offer free information and services is fantastic. You have a solid, well thought-out, workable site here. You've just stuck it into a frames format that doesn't compliment it the information. Take a weekend and work through a page that offers the links in a cleaner format. Make it look corporate. I want the person working with my money to instill confidence right off the bat. I think - no, I know you can do that.

Your content proves it.

That's that. Go get em' Don!

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

Always Remember: When it comes to designing your Web site, the most important person is not you, but your user.

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