Top 10 Web Site Design Mistakes
10. Using Too Much Color
When it comes to adding color to a web site, it’s easy to go overboard. You may have always liked dark brown, but on a web page, it has to be added carefully. Generally, pastel colors work best for backgrounds. These kind of colors (along with the old standby, white) are the best choices. Why? Text has good contrast against them. As for the colors of graphics and so forth on top of your background, it is important to realize that certain colors go well together while others do not. A helpful approach is to surf the web to see how professional sites use colors. Then it’s a matter of trial and error as you learn how colors can help the effectiveness of your web site and your message.
9. Big Does Not Mean Better When It Comes To Text
Your body text should stay on the small side. Not tiny small, mind you. Most professional sites have smaller body text, around 10 points. This allows for more content per page and it just looks more professional. For headings and subheads, you can have more fun with sizes. But also keep in mind that using more than two font types on your site will work against a sense of consistency. Arial, Verdana, Times Roman, and Geneva are widely viewed (no pun intended) as easy to read on web pages.
8. Turning Your Text Into Graphics
Do not make your text into graphics. That is, don’t use software like Photoshop or Paint to turn your text into GIF or JPEG’s. The problems it causes are twofold. One, graphics take longer to download than straight text, and two, when the search engines index your web site, they can’t scan your images to read the text. This can really hurt when it comes to your search engine rankings. How can a search engine understand what your page is about if it can’t read your text? The short answer… it can’t.
7. Clicking On A Link Brings Up A New Window
There’s a setting in HTML that allows a new browser window to open when you click on a link. This can be a good thing if the link is to a web site outside the scope of your site (for example, a link on a car dealership that goes to a transmission repair company). If it is overdone, however, it can be a real annoyance as well as confusing to your viewers. If you have ever tripped across a site that keeps opening windows as you try to close them, you know what I am talking about. So use this technique with discretion. It is rarely ever needed.
6. No Consistent Navigation Scheme
It is important to allow your audience to move around within your site easily. The best way to assure this is to have a set of navigation links in the same location on every web page. Having to search through a page to figure out how to navigate is a quick way to wave goodbye to your audience. The best places to anchor your navigation bar is along the top left or along the top of your of your pages. A large percentage of web sites out there use these two positions. Why? Because they work. Also consider a set of text-only links at the bottom of each page. The more ways you can help your visitors navigate, the better.
5. Thinking Flash Is “Where It’s At”
Those flying, spinning, cool animations you see on the web are usually Flash. Flash is a technology developed by Macromedia, Inc. In its place, it can add an interesting accent to your site. But some folks overdo it, especially with the “splash screens” that visitors see when they first get to a web site. Think of it this way, people come to your web site with a purpose, and it is rarely to see stuff blink and swirl. They come for content. Recently there has been less fuss over Flash. Unless there is a real reason to include it, focus on your content.
4. Using Animated Gifs
Just like Flash, these are those little graphics you see that move or change over and over. A spinning envelope is one example used for a link to someone’s email. Or a flashing hot-pink arrow to help you find, oh, God knows what. They are a dead giveaway that the site was built by an amateur. Steer clear of them. It’s about the content after all.
3. Forgetting About The Search Engines
What good is a web site if people can’t find it? Ninety percent of the time, your target audience is using Google or a similar search engine to locate web sites. So make sure your site has gobs of useful content on your subject matter and a rock-solid navigation scheme (see #6 above ) . If you can get other web sites to link to your site (not link farms) then that helps too. Lastly, include the phrases your target audience is likely to enter in the search engines within the text of your site. These tips are part of what’s called Search Engine Optimization (or SEO). It is critical to a web site successfully reaching its target audience.
2. Not Using Tables
Tables are your friend. Keep saying it. They are a fantastic HTML resource for laying out your individual web pages. If you find a site with everything centered in the middle of each page, they are not using tables. Tables, as in other software packages, help you place items with precision (like headings, navigation bars, and footers). The settings for each column, row and cell are all somewhat involved, but it is in your best interest to learn them. Software like Macromedia Dreamweaver™ can make the process easier.
1. Using Frames
Frames have been around since the early days of HTML. They allow you to load individual pages into different sections of your browser window. In theory, sounds good enough. However in reality, there are serious drawback to using them. Printing is usually a problem since the browser has to ask you what do you want to print, individual frame contents or the whole frame set as it is displayed. Another noteworthy problem is that search engines tend to have trouble indexing them. And when you are trying to reach your target audience through the search engines, you don’t want anything to get in the way.