Email might seem like the ‘family car’ of online marketing sometimes. It’s been around a long time, it’s dependable, but it’s not flashy or attention-grabbing like some of the ‘newer models’ (like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok) are.
But writing off email marketing would be a mistake. It is a well-known problem that the true return on investment for social media is hard to calculate. And it’s also equally well known that for most of us, checking our emails happens two or three times a day (if not more).
So, on those two points alone, it’s worth spending time on your email marketing. The question is, how best to do it. Here are some of the steps you can take to build an effective email marketing operation.
In the Inbox
First things first: get the basics right. The email should tell the recipient who it’s from (i.e. at the ‘From’ label) and also the topic before they even open it.
For the subject line avoiding spammy titles or those that create false urgency is also advisable. So, avoid shouting at your customer with things like ‘LAST CHANCE to get 30% off’. It works very occasionally, but soon, people get tired of it and tune out.
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Social media marketing (SMM) is a relatively new form of advertising, one which can greatly improve the success of your business if used right. However, if you don’t get it right, social media marketing can end up costing you a whole lot of money for very few results.
If you ask digital marketing expert Peter Brittain, one of the most important aspects of social media marketing is targeting the right audience. Most social media platforms allow you to set very specific adds which are delivered to a very specific audience. Doing this is very important for a number of reasons, including:
It will help you get more website views:
Once you have identified your target audience, good quality SMM ads can help drive them to your social media page or website. Targeting the right people will increase your conversion rate, and will prevent you wasting your time delivering ads to people who will simply scroll past them. After all, the whole point of marketing is to increase the amount of people engaging with you.
If you are looking to get into Web Design, then you need to have a basic understanding of the key elements. One of course being, Typography. Typography is the art behind type. At the end of the day, it is one of the key elements that make web pages both pleasant to see, as well as a suitable container of information. Within the Designer’s skill set, it is not only necessary, but imperative, to have a good understanding of Typography.
There are thousands of different ways that type can be arranged. Typography goes far beyond simply making text readable. How you integrate type with specific layouts, and colours, speaks volumes to your skill as a Web Designer. Looking at a good or bad web page, could come down to the Designer’s Typography skills alone.
Today, many people are interested in understanding CSS. Whether you aspire to get into programming, or web design for a digital agency, or you simply want to learn how to customize your own web pages, it is essential that you learn CSS. CSS often pairs with HTML, and is frequently taught at the beginning of many programming courses. Although it is a frequently debated topic of whether or not CSS and HTML qualify as programming that is a discussion to be fleshed out elsewhere. There is no doubt however, that learning CSS is advantageous for all programmers, and is certainly an in-demand skill to have for laymen as well.
Cascading Style Sheets
CSS (cascading style sheets) entails the art of displaying HTML aspects on the screen. If you decide to learn CSS, you will quickly discover that it saves an enormous amount of time. This is so, due to the fact that it allows the user to control many different layouts from various web pages. Within CSS files, many style sheets themselves exist. By toggling through various style sheets, one is able to manipulate the elements of different pages. In CSS, what are referred to as “Classes” as well as “ID’s” are frequently used to create blocks of code that can easily transition between single-use and numerous use. Essentially, you use CSS to determine and customize, all aspects of style within your web page. The design itself, and variations in display features, fall under the category of CSS.
If a visitor sticks around your website and reads your completely reads your content, it would be pretty safe to say they like what they see. When visitors read what you have to offer they are left wondering – what’s next? There’s different things that are offered such as other related posts or ads, but if someone has stayed around long enough to read the entire content, you need to recognize that this is the perfect time to ask for their email address. Your web designer needs to create a web design that promotes subscriptions.
E-newsletters are still an excellent way to connect with potential and current customers regularly. But collecting email addresses isn’t as easy as it might seem. Even those individuals that love what your site has to offer may become hesitant when you want their email address even when you are going to be providing an e-newsletter. Let us look at ways you can convert visitors to be subscribers.
Looking at web industry from a business angle, Ars Technica muses upon six big stories that stood out last year. Of those six, we’ll peg BitCoins as the story we’re most likely to look back on in a decade and wonder “what were they thinking?” Like Microsoft Bob, Pets.com, and the CueCat, BitCoins still have that cachet of “naive pre-web-bubble idea”. The article goes into several ways where BitCoin has had trouble already, which we predict is the shape of its doom, arrising like a Grim Reaper in the West.
Web Designer Depot has a post up about the gems you can find in creative commons images on Flickr. “Creative Commons” basically means “free to use” – sometimes technically for non-profit purposes, but really, does the 0.0005 of a penny you get from ad clicks count as “profit” anyway? While we’re at it, here’s a bunch more royalty-free image sources every web designer should have bookmarked:
Briefly, the point is that users avoid signing up to become a member of a site unless they absolutely have to. Call it, if you will, “social media fatigue“. Ten years ago, the web was yours just like your TV set, and the only time you had to sign up for anything was if you were buying something. Now you can’t click a mouse button without logging in with a nick and password. Who can remember them all? Why does it feel like getting married every time you just want to leave a quick note somewhere?
Oh, you think you’re pretty savvy and sophisticated, with your Twitter and Facebook and Blogger? You think we’ve gone places and done things that could never have been done before? That we’re living in the future, plugged into a worldwide hivemind that our predecessors could only dream of?
Nah, actually, Wired assures us that we’re not any different than prehistoric cavemen when it comes to social networks. Researchers studied a primitive tribe of hunter-gatherers and discovered that they had the same behavior patterns in socializing that our electronic socializing does. They found matches in mutual popularity, closer friends versus more remote ones, and similarity breeding friendship, among other factors. Continue reading
Just in case there’s a few designers out there who still haven’t gotten the word, here’s a great, simple explanation of how web page code injection works. It’s astonishingly simple. Read through this example, then try it on your own website if you have a PHP page that takes variables as part of its URL (who doesn’t these days?). In a nutshell, code injection works when your URL ends with something like “?search=something” and then your script does not check for valid input in the variable “search” before using it.
XSS vulnerabilities are also easy to discover. For instance, imagine a cURL script that runs through your bookmark file and looks for the characters ‘?’ or ‘=’ in a link. It then tries to fetch a page for each of those links with something like ‘
‘ and then checks the returned page for the text ‘EXPLOIT ME’ somewhere in the body. If it finds that, it adds the link to its list of pages with exploit potential.
You could just Google random dictionary words and find dozens of sites per day with a system like that! So don’t assume that a potential vulnerability will never be found – they get discovered and used every day. Continue reading
You’ll notice that the latest “easy enough for a caveman!” web design product always draws the same discussion online: First somebody moans how this is really a toy, no good for professionals. Then somebody always counters (in a snide tone) “Well this isn’t for you elitist professionals, this is so mom and dad can design web pages for their cookie business!” Yeah… but we’ve been hearing this since 1998 with Microsoft’s FrontPage Express. You know how it goes: The easiest-to-learn tool (which always has the least features) soon becomes an industry standard, at which point its user base demands more features. Then it isn’t easy to use anymore, and somebody makes another alternative… the cycle repeats.
The money quote from the article: “WYSIWYG’s shouldn’t be a way to avoid learning code, they should be a way to teach it.” Yeah, but that only makes sense on non-Earth planets. If it were as simple as “learn to code”, we wouldn’t have invented any of these tools. Humans and code appear to be mostly incompatible.
You might have heard that, amid the recent rash of cyber-attacks on high-profile institutions, that Citicorp got hacked. Details of some 200,000 bank accounts got compromised. But the news gets weirder when you consider how it was done, in the most blazingly obvious way.
Briefly, credit card customers noticed that their credit card account number showed up in the URL of any given page when they were on the Citigroup website. Well, what happens when we substitute another credit card number? Oops, that shows you the page for that card! Great, let’s write a script to have wget or lynx or something run through all the 16-digit combinations and save whatever pages it finds for later phishing.
Yeah, it was that simple.
The lesson we can all take away: Think of everything! While it may seem blindingly obvious now that not hashing the account number in the user’s visible URL was a bad idea, would you have thought of a similar hole that large on your own site? One expert is quoted in that article that he: “…wondered how the hackers could have known to breach security by focusing on the vulnerability in the browser.”
It just goes to show, anybody can be caught off-guard.
Melbourne, Australia hosts the annual Laneway Music Festival, and they’ve got a website that’s been attracting attention in web-design circles. For those not in the know, Laneway is the premiere event for the Indie music scene, hosting such headline acts as The Hold Steady, Echo & The Bunnymen, Midnight Juggernauts, and too many more famous acts to list here.
The site attracts attention for its unusually clean design. One really odd quirk that we don’t like, though, is that it has to build a different page for each major city, forcing you to a landing page that makes you select a city – why? The content looks identical regardless which city you selected. You can also change the city from the drop-down menu after you get to the main page anyway, so that’s pointless all over again! Here, the festivals’ in Melbourne, we gave you the Melbourne link.
Wow! For all the derision and loathing we pour on Microsoft and its village-idiot web browser, every now and then you see some engineering project from a back room on the Redmond campus that makes you think that somewhere in the steamrolling bureaucracy, somehow, there are fun, creative minds just trying to claw their way out.
Witness the IE Test Drive Site. It’s a place to test out demos relating to HTML5 and other web technologies, which Microsoft is trying to keep on track for preview editions of Internet Explorer. But there’s lots of fun, fun stuff here, including a pinball game, a Sudoku generator, an asteroid field simulator, and tons more stuff. Just be advised that it’s meant to be cutting-edge, so if you’re not updated to full-modern standards, you won’t be able to run this stuff.
We have just one question: Why aren’t the people behind this demo site running the whole dang company? It’s this thrilling attitude towards playing with technology and making it do gee-whiz stuff that Microsoft had in spades in its early days and so grimly lacks now.
We were reminded of this factor when we saw Tech Drive-In’s list of 11 Biggest Open Source Success Stories That Are Changing The World As We Know It. And all of them are tied to web and Internet business in one way or another.
We have Linux in general and Red Hat Enterprise Linux in particular (Linux is dominating the web server market and Red Hat is one of the chief vendors), Ubuntu (the most successful user-level Linux distro, distributed mostly over the web), WordPress and Drupal (there’s your whole CMS management system for websites), MySQL and Apache (the web server that ties it all together), Firefox and Google Chrome (two of the most popular web browsers), and of course Android (bringing mobile phones into the market). That leaves Open Office as the only desktop-related, non-web technology… although it’s a standard fixture on Linux.
Sometimes you have to wonder what it’s like to be Tim Berners-Lee. To have coded out some basic piece of Internet technology that effectively made the other pieces come together, and then to see your baby become the new media for the whole world and all of the effects it has. Is it working out the way he expected it to? Does he ever feel like Prometheus, perhaps having given us fire too soon?
Sir Tim recently gave a talk at the Nokia conference, cautioning us once again about the dangers of leaving privacy up to corporations and governments, and also about the importance of net neutrality.
Throughout the developed world we see the continued erosion of the idea that the web is a free zone for everyone. It’s starting to become a matter of where you live, what laws control the content, and from whom you buy access. Tim Berners-Lee, like Richard Stallman (founder of GNU), is one of our “Jiminy Crickets,” voices that can do little but talk, and so are out there quietly being the conscience of the tech world. The distressing thing is, their voices grow fainter as time goes on, and few are listening or taking up their cause. What that may spell for the continued level playing field of the web business market is anybody’s guess.
We work in the web development industry, and so we love our shiny new stuff! Don’t we? We love our chrome-plated glowy neon high-tech toys, because they make us feel like the hero in a Tron movie.
Ohhh, it’s exhausting keeping that up. But anyway, as painful as it will be to live through, we’re starting to see lots of enthusiastic hype for HTML5, which means that it will come to pass. It works this way because the life-cycle of all new web tech runs like this:
Initial spec. Somebody like Tim Berners-Lee or Paul Graham makes a blog post about it; everybody laughs.
First implementation. Some bright little start-up implements it before its time and it falls over. All the big companies sniff over it and turn their nose up at it.
A handful of bright bloggers keep yammering about it and why we should give it a chance.
Why doweb designers get so worked up over fonts? A decision on whether to use one font or another for a logo may embroil an entire office, waging cubicle-to-cubicle warfare (imagine stapler-cannons, binder-clip mortars, and waste-paper-basket helmets here) that shoots down an entire day’s productivity. A non-designer will look on all this and wonder what on earth gets into people.
Let’s try to explain the rationale behind the most-dreaded fonts and why designers feel that way. On top of all these, the thing that makes a font the least popular is when it’s been overused.
Comic Sans – The thing is, this font was only intended as a joke/ novelty font. Think “party invitations.” Instead, a whole generation of novice web users latched onto this font for dear life and use it for everything, be it funeral notices, dear John letters, or results coming back from an AIDS test. There are tombstones chiseled in Comic-Sans out there.
Vivaldi– If Comic Sans is in trouble for people who don’t take themselves seriously enough, Vivaldi is the font for people who take themselves too seriously. Vivaldi is appropriate for snooty French restaurants and symphony programs. Anything else just makes it scream “pretentious snob!”
Hey, it’s refreshing to see somebody acknowledge that web workers have stress, isn’t it? Most of the time our acquaintances will be all, “What are you complaining about, all you do is sit around and type all day?” So this list of tips for reducing the stress of web work really hits home.
Some particularly strong points that need emphasizing here:
Exercise One of the things they don’t warn you about is that a life of sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen will make you fat. There’s no way around this; it doesn’t matter what you eat, if you never burn calories, you will gain weight. So yes, taking a walk will also help burn some pounds off your chunky waistline. Continue reading
I say, isn’t it about time you updated that website you had your nephew build for you back in 1998?Outdated web pages look older every year, and now that the World Wide Web is pushing on into the 2010s, even some of the hot trends of the 2000s are beginning to show their age.
If your website’s outdated, it says bad things about you. Visitors might think you must have gone out of business, have no taste, only care about an older audience, or are just too technically incompetent to keep your website up to date. If your website is sporting any of these long-gone elements, perhaps it’s time to think about an update just to keep up with the passing decades.
1. Photoshop design / Image slicing – This used to be the default method of design, even by the pro shops. But not only is slicing an image to fit into tables now outdated, but the whole “design it in Photoshop” thing is an anachronism. Modern-day sites, relying more on CSS than tables, fare far better if laid out in Fireworks, Illustrator, or Inkscape.
2. Background music / autoplaying media – Probably there are no .MIDI sound files playing any more (we hope! those got old even in 1998!), but today’s equivalent is media such as video or Flash ad content that starts playing sound as soon as the visitor arrives. At least let the visitor mouse over the element or give them a way to pause it. Continue reading
The least sexy word in the English language is “database.” You could just have the wildest party in the world happening, and run in and yell “database!” and it would take the fizz out of the champagne, make the DJ pack up his rig and go home, stop the dancing cold, and make everybody run away. Databases are the exact point where a CS major quits studying to be a web developer and decides to become a web designer instead. It’s still used in Catholic school to punish unruly students.
So everybody’s supposed to be very excited about this new NoSQL thing. Now we have to pretend to be excited too. We also have to pretend to understand what NoSQL is all about. Yes, horizontal scaling!
And we’ll also nod along with the important-sounding acronym ACID, which stands for “A Completely Important-sounding Designation,” and something about what databases should do. Of course, all this is drawing fresh ink because Oracle bought out Sun, and… wait a minute, what does Oracle make again?
Join us next time for the thrilling conclusion, when the backlash movement “YesSQL” makes an even more obscure ripple of hype!
Apple says Adobe is working to sabotage HTML5. Adobe says HTML5 is no threat to Flash. Everybody’s watching the fight, and we love the six-fingered tattooed fist in the image, guys!
While we’re all bickering, could we help by pointing out what Flash is?
In the first place, Flash is not an Adobe innovation. Flash was originally developed in 1992 by a company called Macromedia, when it created a browser plug-in originally for Netscape Navigator. Life went on this way for 13 years, all the way up until Adobe bought out Macromedia in 2005, in a hostile takeover which also acquired Dreamweaver. Since 2005, Flash has gone from being a relatively controversy-free plug-in to being a hotbed of drama and turmoil. Continue reading
Every web designer should at least save a copy of this chart listing social media use by age. It’s a gold mine of information in a small image. Charting age brackets for young teens, young adults, Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers, Older Boomers, and Seniors, it shows who’s using the features of the modern web, from creators to spectators.
Obviously, you can see the age range from 12 to 40 doing all of the web activity to speak of. After age 40, the dip falls off dramatically until you get to seniors whose extent of web use is email. One interesting exception: RSS usage is flat all the way across the age groups! As surprising as it may seem to those of us who simply can’t start our day without our news feed, syndication just may not be taking off like everybody expected it to.
The dynamic piechart looks like one of those painfully-obvious image-sprite hacks, but you have to admit you never thought of it until you saw it.
The adaptive layout technique – this is the next feature we’re going to be crying for better solutions for, in HTML6 and CSS4. The massive array of screen widths we now have to deal with, from pocket-mobile devices to ridiculous monitors the size of a swimming pool, is a mark that it’s high time the device took care of more of this for us.
On any website using Linux website hosting, chances are good that you have the Apache web server software at your command, which puts you in charge of the most useful file on the Internet, the .htaccess file.
If you haven’t peeked into this file and learned what’s going on in there, you’re missing out on a powerful tool for disciplining your website (and unruly users!). You can edit it with any text editor – even Notepad! Below, a hint list:
Block directory listing:
What it does: Stops visitors from being able to view a directory in raw form. You might do this to prevent paid content being viewable for free, or for security reasons.
When picking your web hosting company for the first time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look through the options for what the host offers. Here, we present the top five most-used back-end technologies – and what they are good for!
The number-one server-side scripting language. Probably 90% of all the web applications you’ll find on the Internet are written in PHP, from blogs to bulletin boards to galleries to shopping cart applications. PHP is designed with the web enterprise in mind. In the case of Linux website hosting, it’s a lead-pipe certainty that this will be included.
It’s always nice when web designers share their tools of the trade, especially when it’s a mom-and-pop outfit.
This designer lists a lot of free and open source tools which they use to build a pretty impressive portfolio. Fancy IDE? Nah, Notepad++! And a freebie FavIcon generator. Open-source Firebug, the Firefox extension that turns Firefox into a power development tool. And of course, for graphics… Gimp.
People are always astonished when you say you use Gimp for production work. Bad press from Adobe and a legion of elitist Photoshop users have given people the false impression that Gimp can’t do anything, like it’s not even as functional as Microsoft Paint. No, Gimp is really all you need for basic web graphics. It’s just doomed to live in the shadow of everyone who doesn’t want a Gimp, but instead wants an open-source Photoshop.
SCTimes brought up the very first web banner ad, created by none other than – AT&T! The American telecommunications company (and father of Unix and the C programming language, to boot) launched this ad in 1994.
For those of you who don’t remember, the banner ad’s phrase “you will” was the catch-phrase for AT&T’s early-’90s marketing campaign. TV commercials featured voice-overs asking “Have you ever…” followed by some Utopian visions of futuristic tech usage, and then closing with “you will! And the company that will bring it to you… AT&T!” It was so saturated that numerous parodies sprung up in computing culture. Some original AT&T ads on YouTube.
The article does cover some good ground on the whole subject of interface – whoops – experience design, and is worth a look just for the thought it provokes. I like #4: It’s not “just about usability”. No, it actually has to do something worthwhile, is the point that needs emphasizing.
While I agree that experience design is important, and there are designs that are better than others, I have noticed in the past few years amongst the professionals with “nebulous titles” (see #9) is that they try to hard to justify their profession and end up over-thinking the whole thing. The best intentions and all that, you know. But have you ever seen something designed by a committee? Say, a government committee? Then you know what I’m talking about.
It’s good to be aware of the need to design the user experience, but at some point we also need to quit making up six-syllable words, get out of our academic ivory towers, and just say “It’s a button and a menu! Leave it alone!”
For everybody who doesn’t use Internet Explorer, CSS is the gift from the gods that made the web more beautiful. Galleries of CSS magic, then, basically boil down to “porn for web designers”.
While your day-to-day reality will more likely involve getting a shopping cart application to check credit card numbers correctly on a client’s ASP-powered site, you can always dream of a world where Microsoft is shelled into the ground and we can all use the modern, 21st-century web.
CSS Play – Stu Nicholls is nothing less than the wizard of CSS. Is there anything he can’t do with it? He can draw Christmas trees, make maze games, animate sprites, create fly-out and pop-out menus, and tell you ten ways to make an interactive image gallery. Continue reading
Since other bloggers are jumping on the band wagon and making predictions for 2009 (because that’s what bloggers do!), I’ll go one better, and also delay the time before anybody can prove me wrong: I’ll predict through 2014! OK, crystal ball/ on the table/ tell all the future/ that you’re able. Something’s coming in…
Yahoo still won’t get bought. – Did that get your attention? We spent the better part of 2008 gossiping about Yahoo and Microsoft and their expected tryst. Never happened. Microsoft is too greedy to pay through the nose and Yahoo is too full of pride to offer lower. And Yahoo is actually still more profitable than some 90% of web-based businesses. They still made $7.22 billion in 2008 and they’re still a Fortune 500 company, OK?
Colour us “jumping to conclusions”, but we’d have to guess that Photoshop is the best-known graphic design tool out there. but it’s not an optimal solution for everybody – the price tag is high, it has a steep learning curve such that you could spend years studying it and not know all of it, and it’s also aimed more for print graphics than web graphics.
For those of you looking for a more compact and economical solution, here’s a list of tools you might want to look into. These are all less costly (all but one is free!) to download and use, and are geared more towards smaller solution sets as well.
We missed this a while back with all the pre-Holiday rush, but IT-News Australia published the list of the top ten geeks of all time. And yes, it is an article which uses the word ‘geek’ in the positive sense, the way we used to use the word ‘hacker’.
The list is worth pursuing, because it reminds us of all the people without whom we web developers wouldn’t have a job today:
I say that because nearly every film and TV program that comes out, when it shows a computer screen, has some fantastically unrealistic magic going on. So the expectation is set high, and when clients come to you to design their website, they wonder why you can’t make it work like that.
From the orchestra-conductor interface in Minority Report to the fantasy computers on the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek (you like how Captain Picard can talk to the computer, but the bridge crew still has to push a million buttons to drive the ship?), the film and TV industries are acting like they’ve never seen a computer in their entire lives.
AJAXian has released the results of their 2008 State-of-the-Web survey, and the one glaring thing that stands out is that the people surveyed (“as many web designers and developers from around the world as possible”) seem to be losing touch with their audience.
A minority using Windows, a minority using IE, and a minority using mobile devices. That makes huge sense for web developers.
But that’s a sharp contrast to the web audience, where the most common visitor is still running IE6 on Windows XP, with the second place going to IE7 on Windows Vista and the third going to a smartphone running Windows Mobile.
This is a generalization derived from many survey sources, but it’s close enough to make the point.
The thing is, the farther apart web developers and web users drift, the farther the designs of the former will meet the expectations of the latter. True, we all test our websites on several platforms (I hope we do, at least!), but that’s still different from using the same thing your users use, day in and day out.
If you are a web designer, then there are scores of things that you need to know, so that your websites will be successful. The website that you design must be able to create a rapport between the site and the visitor for a common good. This is one of the many definitions of a successful website.
In addition, your website must be interesting enough to gain the attention of a visitor who may or may not continue on to your site. Thus, there are many things that you need to take heed of in order to achieve a successful website. Here are some useful tips that can help you to become a better web designer.
1. You must be very patient in order to be successful as a web designer. One of the greatest problems that web designers face is the fact that many web designers will try to rush through their work and thus they will often make mistakes. Don’t forget that your website will serve millions of people on the Internet and you need to be patient and meticulous in your efforts, so that you can satisfy a majority of them.
5. A good web designer must be able to balance the use of graphics and Audio – Video files with website viewing efficiency. Using graphics can make your website interesting and pleasing to look at; but overdoing it can cause your web viewing times to slow down. Thus as a website designer, you will have to balance this equation for that particular website.
6. A good web designer must be able to balance out the content of the web site into numerous web pages. This will be better for the visitors and it will also be better for SEO purposes.
7. It is essential for a web designer to know the driving force behind SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It is important for the web designer to be familiar with Search Engine algorithms. This way the web designer will be able to adjust keyword densities and other relevant SEO related criteria.
8. A good web designer will seek professional help and opinion whenever needed.
Layout and navigation are the key for attracting attention to a website. On a well designed website, individual elements, be it graphics or text, appear to be in harmony with and complimentary to each other. The quality of the layout dependents on the right mix of placing of objects, font size, empty spaces, and background.
Use background colour that enhances the look of the text or graphic on the foreground. Lighter shades are generally preferred and practically found to be useful. Avoid adding colours just to create shock value or add an element of surprise. In addition, the background has to be appropriate keeping in mind the focus of the site. A site dedicated for a medical facility may have white or light blue as the background giving an impression of purity, cleanliness, healing etc., while darker colours may not be suitable.
Placing of the text and the spaces in between may also give different impressions about the website. A website for a media company may display text and graphics in a random manner which may not be appropriate for, say a charitable organisation.