Common Web Design Mistakes
1. Horizontal Scrolling – Users on an average-size monitor with average resolution should not have to scroll left and right to read the contents of your pages. Designing with fixed widths that will fit onto smaller monitors or designing with fluid layouts will avoid horizontal scrolling.
2. Invalid Code – In order to have the best control over your websites appearance and functions in all situations, valid XHTML and CSS should be used. The W3C offers free validating for both XHTML and CSS.
3. Designing for One Browser – Each internet browser interprets code slightly different than the next browser. When developing a website, test it in several different browsers because your visitors will be using different browsers. AnyBrowser.com is a good resource for testing in multiple browsers.
4. Harsh Color – Reading on screen is harder on the eyes than reading from a piece of paper. Using extreme colors only makes this worse and increases the chance that visitors will leave your site quickly.
5. Hidden Contact Information – Some visitors will want to contact you with questions or comments. A contact form, or at least your email address should be easy for your visitors to locate.
6. Excessive Use of Flash – Flash animation and video can make a site look great, but it can severely slow down page loads and it can also distract the visitor’s attention away from the important content of your website.
7. Poor Use of Page Titles – Page titles will typically be displayed on search engine results pages. Because they describe the contents of the page they have a major impact on click-through rates. A non-descriptive page title will loose traffic to a competitor with a better use of page titles.
8. Dead Links – Nothing will frustrate a visitor like dead links, especially those that are internal (linking to other pages on your website rather than linking to someone else’s website). Use a tool like Dead-Links.com to find dead links on your website.
9. Excessive Advertisements – While outside advertisements can create revenue for your website, they can also cost you money in lost visitors. Websites with too many ads generally look unprofessional.
10. Linking to Bad Websites – The sites that you link to will influence the visitor’s opinion of your business. Links should provide valuable information or services for your visitors. Don’t link to a poor website just because they agree to link to you in exchange.
11. Using “Click Here” for Links – The anchor text of a script should be descriptive of where that link is going. Not only will this give your visitors a better idea of where the link will take them, but anchor text is also a factor in search engine rankings.
12. Navigation that Uses Only Images – The navigation of your website is crucial for visitors to find what they want. Not all internet users will be able to see images. Some will surf with images turned off to speed up the load time, and some disabled users will rely on the anchor text of links to navigate your site. These users will be unable to move through your site with navigation that completely relies on images (although alt tags can help). CSS-based navigation is much more accessible.
13. Not Using Headings – XHTML provides specific tags for headings. Many websites accomplish the same visual effect by using a larger font size and bold text; however, headings have significance to search engines.
14. Email Address at Another Domain – If your email address is posted on your website, using a free email service like a Yahoo address does not look professional. Your hosting service will provide you with email addresses at your domain name.
15. Poor Use of White Space – White space is important to make your content easy for visitors to read. White space can be used improperly by having too much blank space, or by cramming too much content into a small area. Many websites that use excessive advertisements also lack sufficient white space.
16. Using the Wrong Software to Create the Website – Websites should be created by either hand coding or with a program specifically made for creating websites, like Dreamweaver. Using a word processing program or any other any other type of software will create unnecessary, invalid code.
17. Not Displaying Subscription Options Prominently – If your website offers an email newsletter or an RSS feed sign up information should be easily seen by visitors. Placing sign up instructions at the bottom of pages or only on certain pages will decrease the number of new subscribers.
18. Pages that are Hard to Find – Navigation of the website should be logical so that visitors can find the pages they want. Adding a sitemap or a search function is a good idea.