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I have a newbie for web design activity. He sends me a link to his new website, and it's all blinking gifs and marquees and Comic Sans. My goal is to encourage him to learn and keep trying. What can I say to him that doesn't come off as "everything is wrong, you suck"?

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closed as off topic by DA01, Koen Lageveen, ChrisF, Matt Obee, msanford May 27 '13 at 21:09

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It depends how open he is to criticism, really... – David Clarke May 14 '13 at 10:50
Were they serious when sending animated gifs and comic sans? – Matthew Moore May 14 '13 at 15:22
Animated gifs and Comic Sans isn't exactly what happened. I'm just making sure I invoke the proper mental image of a complete disaster. – Ansis Malins May 14 '13 at 17:08
How is this a user experience question? – DA01 May 26 '13 at 0:28
I suggest moving this question to – Michael Lai May 26 '13 at 1:18
up vote 7 down vote accepted

well I suggest you send him to hackdesign website, as a starting point. Then it will be easier to talk to him :)

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Fantastic resource, never knew of it. – Mervin Johnsingh May 14 '13 at 11:04
Enjoy - people behind it are still adding new information. This morning I have received a new email: "Week 14: The Medium and Mechanics of Iconography" – Igor-G May 14 '13 at 11:17
Haven't heard of it, but it's exactly what I (and many others) need. – mowwwalker May 14 '13 at 18:11
Hackdesign is perfect for this... Great resource for the not so newbies too. – Tim May 17 '13 at 7:03

Here is a suggestion of things I would recommend.

  • Tell him that though you appreciate his effort, the world of design has moved on from animated gifs and marquees
  • Give him an example of how new designs are and how there is an increasing focus on flat UI's (these links might be good starting points)

    23 Examples of Flat Web Design

    Show case of Flat UI design

  • Encourage him to spend some time on design forums and blogs to get an understanding of how people perceive design nowadays and how there is an emphasis on content more than chrome and flashy stuff
  • Ask him to look around and check sites he likes and understand the design principles behind them
  • Ask him to Experiment based upon what he learns

Here is a good article which is worth looking at about how to learn graphic design

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Try to take the parts of his site that you feel are good and be positive about them, first and foremost.

THEN, take all of the parts you think are bad, and try to be upbeat, but critical at the same time. Using your "examples"...

  • Blinking gifs and/or text can be problematic for people with some disabilities or ailments. Remember the Pokemon cartoon that aired in Japan that caused seizers?

  • Scrolling marquee text can be difficult for people to read, mostly because the text is moving, but also because the choice of background that the text is scrolling across may clash with the text at different points of the scroll.

Comic Sans - ... Comic sans is just comical. No, really, its good for things like web comics, but for actually blocks of text that you expect someone to read it can be quite difficult to deal with. If you do want to use it, be very strategic as to where it is used.

this could also extend to things like tables (they aren't bad, they've just been misused for so long that they have a stigma to them), Image Maps, etc

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Just point out what improvements need to be made. Criticism is not bad if its constructive. And if the newbie is any good (Most newbies are, I was..), he'll take your points to improve his work.

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I would suggest showing him examples of commercial sites in use today that meet industry best practice. You can learn a lot by seeing how the experts do it and you can set the expectations of what you want by giving him a series of sites that match your visual preferences

As an example have a look at:

It's a well written modern site that works surprisingly well and has made its owner one of the "go to" car leasing sites in the UK.

(Make sure your brightness is set correctly before clicking on the link, the few complaints I have seen about it are undoubtedly down to incorrect monitor settings on the client side)

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