A website can be created in thousand different ways. While there is no ultimate formula for making a web site successful, or pleasant for the viewers, there are some definite “no-no’s” a web designer should keep in mind. We decided to sum up some the most common design mistakes you should avoid when creating your site:
1. Lack of scannable content
A website is all about content, so make sure your site is easy to read through. Online readers normally do not read the everything thoroughly, but scan the content instead. If you do not catch their eye and attention quickly enough, the visitors will bounce off your site. In order to make your site scannable you need to use:
– Bold keywords
– The inverted pyramid style of writing (most important on top)
Also make sure you have enough white space between your paragraphs so its easy on the eyes.
2. Site looks bad on some screen resolutions
Make sure that the website looks good on most common monitor resolutions especially on 1366×768 which is now the most common screen resolution. Relevant, interesting content should always be placed above the page fold. Avoid at all costs horizontal scrolling!
3. Being overly creative
Although it may be tempting to come up with different designs for your site sub-pages it is almost never a good idea to do so. It is very annoying and more importantly – confusing for the user when landing on pages with significantly different designs. Even if it is more attractive it all goes to nothing when the visitor gets annoyed and leaves the page. Better use the same template on each page and people will not get confused.
4. Making parts of the design look like advertisements
Users have learned to ignore things that even remotely resemble ads and they will do the same for actual parts of the website design.
– Avoid using boxes that look like banners as this will fall under the rule of “banner blindness” – the user quickly marks sections of the page that look like banners without actually reading the message through.
– Avoid having animations or other flashing or blinking parts of your page – users will automatically ignore that as well. This is particularly important for the blinking text some designers tend to use – this is not even slightly beneficial for the web site, and unless your visitors come directly from the 90s it is a good idea to stay away from.
– Popup windows would normally be closed as soon as opened, so do not bother including them as part of your site content.
This leads us to another common design mistake.
5. Opening links on new browser window
Although not used as often as before this is worth mentioning as a bad web design practice. It practically “pollutes” the users’ screen and annoys them. Opening new windows will make the user experience more confusing, and slower and may not work well on mobile platforms.
6. Not making page titles search engine friendly
Avoid using default titles, and make sure your page names are closely related to what the user would tend to search in a search query. Make sure you have most if your important keywords in the first 50 characters of the page title.
Hint: You can use the Google Adwords Keyword tool to search for phrases, and keywords people would normally search for. This generally will help you show up higher on the search engine organic search results.
7. Not including contact details
I find it very strange that, some web designers are still not including a contact section in their websites, this is a very common design mistake. Whatever you do, always include visible “Contacts” page normally in the footer, but it might as well be up top. You will be missing on important feedback, suggestions and more.
8. Not testing the website under different browsers
Although all serve the same purpose, not all browsers are exactly the same. Some of them will not display CSS (cascade style sheets), and different languages the way you are expecting while designing your site. Make sure your work is compatible with at least the top 5 on the market. Currently these are – Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.
9. Do not use too much of Flash animations
Flash usage significantly increases the load time of the website which could be a real problem on some users’ computers. Try to substitute Flash with interactive Java Scripts which are less of burden for the machine and are a more search engine friendly. The Flash text content is not scanned (if the text is an image) by the search engines, and thus will not contribute for your website’s rank in the search engine results. In general, try using Flash only when is necessary from a functionality stand point.
10. Bad site navigation
The site navigation is of great importance for the overall user experience. Make it as simple and intuitive. Nowadays we have in our hands web building technology giving us countless options, but the “keep it simple” approach is just as valid as always when it comes to web site building. You want the site visitors to find what they are looking for as quickly as they can. Even the use of drop-down menus are unnecessary in most cases, and are not as popular as they used to be couple of years ago.
To sum it up, do not make things more complicated than they should be. Content (is the King) will always be more important than fancy designs – so be nice with your site visitors, and make sure that your site is easy to read and that has intuitive navigation structure.
I hope you find the above tips useful, if you have any other common design mistake in mind, please share it through the comment section below or shoot me an email to [email protected]. If you have questions, or feedback for us feel free to send it to the same address.
Have a pleasant and creative week,