Common Web Design Mistakes

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Achieving a good web design – one that works both for the end user and meets the needs of the owner – can be a difficult balancing act. Make it too simple and it can look amateur. Over complicate the design and risk losing custom because of information overload – or worse, slow download.


However, it is possible to create a great website that is a pleasure to use. Simply avoid the following common pitfalls: 

1. Inconsistency

The speed at which one can browse around a site means that the last page viewed is still fresh in the memory. If the next page looks dramatically different the user can feel disorientated and disengage. Avoid inconsistencies and maintain a professional image throughout by sticking to the same formats, font sizes, colours, style and images.

2. Spelling mistakes

There is nothing more off-putting when reading web copy than poor grammar/spelling. It detracts attention and conveys a lack of professionalism; after all if you apparently pay so little attention to detail on your own website, the end user is forced to wonder what hope there is for the attention to detail you’ll apply to the service you are offering. 

3. Clashing or gaudy colours

Good content should take centre stage and the user’s eye not detracted by clashing or gaudy colours. Remove any decorative elements that are not absolutely required so that the user’s attention remains focused. Clean up the site by removing any unnecessary image borders, drop shadows, extra images in your header or footer, and extra illustrative images on individual pages.

4. Lack of information

It seems obvious but if a visitor can’t find the information they are looking for quickly and easily, they’ll be off. When testing your site ask a range of people to try it out and check they can find what they are looking for.

5. Overly long pages

Tempting as it is to bombard your audience with as much information as you can, remember they are not a captive audience. If they get bored or can’t quickly find what they are after they will be off. 

6. Resizing browser windows

There is nothing more frustrating than finding that a website page distorts because it hasn’t been created for a screen of the size you are using to view. If you can’t guarantee your website has been designed to appear as clearly on a mobile phone screen as on a 32” flat screen take professional advice.

7. Lack of clear navigation

Don’t lose users on the journey around your website because it is overcomplicated. Remember, simplicity is key. Ensure sections are well signposted and that the website is easy to navigate by keeping the number of pages to a minimum, clearly identifying area’s and sections and ensuring pages remain uncluttered. 

8. Long download times

When working on the web design remember that not all of your users will be using the latest technology or fastest connections and that long download times are never welcome. Simple sites generally have smaller file sizes and therefore take up less server space and bandwidth. A relatively simple site – with just a few images could take up less than 100kb, while more complicated designs can come in nearer 1mb. That means that you could have ten times as much traffic with the simple site for the same cost as the more complicated one. If you have a lot of content or a lot of visitors, do consider looking at reducing your file sizes if you can.

9. Over use of Flash

While Flash can really enhance a site, or make it work harder for you in terms of engaging with your audience there are con’s as well as pro’s to it’s use. Not everyone likes Flash and not everyone can use it. Flash requires a plug-in which not all browsers have and some companies don’t allow. Flash can also slow the user’s experience down if they have to wait for a whole site to download before they can even see what it has to offer and hitting the back button can, quite literally, eject you from the site. Finally Flash sites don’t often get high search engine rankings because their spiders can’t pick up the images, there tend to be fewer key words used and links aren’t always in the standard HTML they are looking for. If you aren’t sure whether Flash animation is right for your site, or you have concerns about how best to incorporate it while avoiding some of the pitfalls, talk to an agency that specialises in good web design.

10. Adverts - or things that look like them

Given the choice of plain text or an image – especially a moving one – our eyes will almost always veer towards the image. That is why video-based ads annoy us so much – but also capture our attention. If you want your user to focus on the page in hand, don’t let their attention be diverted elsewhere by an advert or other dynamic content.

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