There are a number of web design mistakes that can derail a perfectly good site. Most of these mistakes are easily avoided…if you know what to watch out for. Here is a quick list of major website design mistakes that must avoid.
1. Avoid using busy patterns in your backgrounds
Busy backgrounds are very distracting to the eye and they also smack of the early days of the Internet. Any element that you place on busy background will get lost…especially if it’s text. Stick to solid colors, soft gradients, or subtly patterned backgrounds. These will give your design just enough interest without being overpowering.
2. Avoid inconsistent text formatting
Sometimes in an attempt to make a web page more eye-catching, some web design newbies will use a bunch of different fonts in the design. Unfortunately this approach only makes the website look amatuerish.
Use no more than one or two different fonts for your entire website, one for body copy and one for headers. Be consistent with font sizes as well. Don’t go smaller than 11 point for body copy, especially if your website appeals to an older audience. The ideal size for body copy is between 12 and 14 points. Size headers and subheads 2 to 4 points higher than body copy. So for 12 point body copy, figure 14 to 16 points for subheaders and 18 to 20 points for main headers.
Also, stick to “web-safe” fonts like Arial, Courier, Georgia, Impact, Tahoma, Trebuchet, Helvetica, Verdana, Times New Roman, and Palatino. These are fonts that are universal across most computers and operation systems. In order for a visitor to view a font on your website, it must be installed on their computer. By sticking to web-safe fonts, you’re ensuring that you text will look the same to everyone.
3. Avoid bad color schemes
The colors you choose for your website is very important. Remember that colors can effect people people psychologically, so you should choose your palette with that in mind. Keep in mind that how a color looks on the computer screen is very different than how it looks in print. Avoid using very large areas of bright colors like red, yellow, orange, and bright pink as it tends to be hard on the eyes.
Think about basic rules of color theory when choosing your color palette. Type the words “color wheel” into Google and brush up on the basics. Look at other websites you like and see what kind of colors they use. You can get ideas for color palettes from websites like as Kuler or COLOURlovers.
4. Avoid unreadable text
A common color scheme on the web is white text on black background. While this scheme has the effect of making things appear to “pop” off the page, it’s also hard to read. The most readable color scheme for text is black or dark grey text on white. You should also avoid using very light, grey text on white. While this was all the rage in web design a few years back, low contrast text can be difficult to read. Sticking with the traditional black on white color scheme will make your text readable to everyone.
5. Avoid confusing navigation
Make sure that your website navigation is clear and easy to follow. Many newbie designers make the mistake of trying to cram too many links into the navigation. Too many choices confuses your visitors, and they’ll often choose to leave rather than figure out where to click. Keep your navigation simple. Have no more than 5 to 7 categories in your main navigation. Use secondary navigation in dropdown menus and sidebars for pages that go deeper into your website.
You should also avoid fancy animated navigation that makes people hover over your menus to see where they can go. Also if you use drop down menus, make sure they click through properly. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to click through a drop down menu.
6. Avoid crowded or cluttered designs
The best layouts are simple and clean. Resist the urge to cram everything onto your page. Don’t be afraid that visitors will miss something if it doesn’t all appear on one page. Again, giving people too many visual choices will confuse them and they’ll leave rather than scroll through a crowded site. Include plenty of white space in your layout. Breathing room between visual elements allows the eye to be able to focus on the individual elements easier.
7. Avoid Flash websites
Flash websites can be very eye-catching, but if unless you’re in the entertainment industry, it may not be very effective for a variety of reasons. One, flash websites can be slow loading, especially if the visitor is not using a fast Internet connection. Internet users have fairly short attention spans. If your website doesn’t load with in 8 seconds or less, they’re gone. Also, flash websites are bad for search engine rankings as there is no content for search engine spiders to crawl through.
But the biggest reason why you should avoid flash websites is that they are distracting for visitors. Look at the biggest ecommerce sites and you notice that almost none of them are flash websites. Why? Because distracted customers don’t buy. If you’re using your website to promote a business or to sell, you want as few distrations as possible between your content and your visitor. So stick with the plain vanilla HTML site.