35 Web Design Mistakes You Should Avoid
This article is an ever-changing list of some common, controversial, and often forgotten mistakes that are made in web development. Most of them will apply to any website or blog, but please keep it mind that there will be cases where these would not apply and some you may dislike.
1. Presuming the phase “If you build it, they will come” – Even if you achieve the perfect website you still have to take steps to market that site. It becomes increasingly more necessary that you take the time to put the word out about your website online and offline. If you do not take the time to brag about your site, no one will.
2. Do not blend advertisements into content – It may increase your click through rate in the short term, but when a user thinks they are clicking on an internal link and then finds out you just tricked them – most will not be coming back.
3. Avoid splash pages (intro) to your website – These luckily are a dying fad, but at one time these were what a lot of websites prompted visitors with when they first gained access their website instead of the content they were attempting to reach.
4. Make unvisited links a different color from visited links – This is a basic usability tip. Users recognize the default link color easily, and are use to seeing visited links change color – it helps ensure they do not revisit pages unintentionally.
5. Ensure that your website is cross-browser compatible – Browsers are not created equal, and not all of them interpret code the same way. Like it or not, you need to make sure that your site appears correctly in popular browsers – browsershots.org is a great tool for doing this.
6. Music Players – Do not place a music player on your website; if I wanted to listen to music I would open my music player. It simply annoys visitors, and they have to hit the stop button every time they load another page. If you run a site related to music, then allow the user the option of starting the player when they are ready.
7. Do not overuse Flash if not necessary – Not only does Flash increase the load time of your website, it hurts your SEO, and excessive usage of Flash might also annoy some visitors. I suggest that you only use it when necessary.
8. Keep browser features intact – Do not break the back button, forward button, adjustments to focusing or any other browser functions – some people rely on them.
9. Do not open links in new windows – Allow the user to control his/her destiny, if they wish to come back to your site then they will by using the back button or other browser features.
10. Get your point across quickly – You need to make sure that the user can quickly identify the contents of the webpage; if they cannot figure out what the page is about then it’s pretty common they will just leave. Use your title tags, and headings to spell a clear message to the user.
11. Do not adjust the browser window size – Let the users control their own browser, resizing a browser can affect other tabs/windows they currently have opened.
12. Do not use hidden text – You should never attempt to trick search engines by using hidden text to fill your page with keywords or content to improve search engine ranking – this is simply an easy way to get ban from search results all together.
13. Do not try keyword stuffing – When adding the keyword tags to your pages ensure that the keywords you pick are relevant to the content on the page. The best thing to do is make sure each keyword is mentioned in the content multiple times. If you choose not to follow this rule it could result in a ban from Google.
14. Do not use visible visitor counters – Not only are these things unprofessional, they are completely pointless for visitors to even see. You should instead use an app like Google Analytics to quietly track all of that information for you.
15. Do not underline or change colors of normal text – Users have come to identify underline and different color text as links. Try to follow this simple rule so that users are not confused about what is a link and what is not one.
16. Format Content Correctly – Different standards apply when writing internet based content – you’re not writing a book. Make use of elements like bullet points, headers, sub headers, and list. Break content up.
17. Do not use tiny font sizes – Ensure that contents readable for all different kinds of visitors. The older the visitors are the more likely they will have a harder time reading the content, and most of these same people are unaware of browser resizing options.
18. Be consistent – Do not change the theme or link colors midway in the site. Ensure that your theme follows the same throughout the site.
19. Do not put text (content) into images – Put text in HTML when possible. Web designers will sometimes use images for their content or information because they mutilate fonts and sizes easily. But this is non-robot friendly (SEO), cannot be easily resized (like text can), doesn’t work for text reading software for the blind, and will increase load time.
20. Avoid bright harsh colors – Ensure that the font color is easy to read on your choice of background color. Also keep in mind just because you can read your bright pink font on your yellow background doesn’t mean everyone can. I have always found that black font on a white background to be the best choice.
21. Provide a basic search function – Search ability is one of the most important navigators in a website. You can now give your visitors the power of search by using Google’s Custom Search Engine.
22. Use ALT and TITLE attributes – Make sure you are making use of these attributes because it will not only help your SEO, but also help the blind with text readers.
23. Do not require a registration unless necessary – Do not force users to sign up when it’s not necessary. Period.
24. Make use of standard fonts – It would be wise to use standard web fonts when creating a website, because if a visitor doesn’t have the font you have selected then it will pick a different one to replace it.
25. Using Pop-ups – Making use of pop-ups for content based pages or even ad based pages has become a bad idea over the years with the increase in pop-up blockers.
26. Over-crowding – This is pretty common for web designers to add to many elements to pages. It gives off an unprofessional look and is difficult to navigate through all the information.
27. Lengthy Pages – People avoid reading lengthy pages. Being brief with your message will normally cause those pages will have a higher readership rate. If necessary setup a series of well navigated pages if you have a lot to say.
28. Slow loading pages – Believe it or not, people still have dial-up. Visitors will quickly move on to a different webpage if yours doesn’t load quickly enough. Attempt to trim your pages down so even the visitors with the worst internet connection can access information is always a good idea.
30. Get a Sitemap – Sitemaps are simply a page with list of the most important or all of the pages on your website. Creating an XML Sitemap file for your site helps search engines discover the pages on your site easily.
31. Do not disable right clicking – Normally the webmasters doing this is attempting to stop the you from gaining access source code or image locations, but it’s highly annoying and users can still access those areas even after right click function is disabled by using the main menu.
32. Refrain from complex URLs – A keyword based URL structure will not make only improve your websites search engine rankings, but will also help visitors easily indentify content by URL name.
33. Do not use images for navigation links – When creating your websites navigation you should make use of text instead of images. Text based navigation is not only better on your load times but also you should never do something that you can easily be create with a style sheet.
34. Optimization of CSS & Images – Take the time to optimize your CSS and images – this will help lower load times and total weight of your website un-cached will be reduced. CleanCSS.com.
35. Common problems exist with Flash, Frames and AJAX – you can’t link to certain web pages. Try not to use Frames at all and use Flash and AJAX sparingly for better SEO results.
36. Do not have video start playing automatically – too many sites do this these days and I do not ever want a video to start playing every time I hit a particular website’s homepage.
37. Animations and flashing text effects is so 1999 – Cheesy Animations and those flashing text effects that can be done using CSS were widely popular in the earlier years of the internet but we have moved past that.
(This article was originally posted on the website http://netjelly.com. Here is a link to the original article. I just want to be clear, I did not write this article, but it is a great article. Thanks. Published by Zach Hornsby, on October 25th, 2009 at 8:57 am.)