Technology / Website design

Eight no-nos of web design

We all appreciate how a website’s design can help or hinder its effectiveness. Is your site guilty of one or more of these common web design no-nos?

18 June 2008 by

1. Illegible type

The use of illegibly tiny type, often combined with a low contrast colour scheme such as light gray on white, appears to be an increasingly common practice in web design. This is in spite of our ageing population!

Type is there primarily to impart information, it is not meant to be a decorative element.

2. Limiting the view

More and more customers are buying larger and larger screens. So why do we still see websites with lots of text set inside postage stamp sized frames you have to scroll to read?

Limited views create headaches for the end users. Combined with the tiny text problem, I can’t help but feel that I am not supposed to be reading anything on certain websites.

3. Unclear intention

What and who is your website for? Is it to give your customers what they are looking for? Or is it for you to tinker with the latest technology and other fun stuff?

Many businesses are distracted by the wow of Flash-based “experiences” and forget the real and often mundane information needs of their customers.

"Many businesses are distracted by the wow of Flash-based “experiences” and forget the real and often mundane information needs of their customers."

There is nothing wrong with rich experiences provided they support the real needs of your customers.

4. Stale information

Is your website up to date?

Has it been designed to enable you to keep it up to date? Or is frequently changing information locked up in media files that only the web developer can access?

Those without the resources or intention to update their site regularly need to ensure their website still reflects the reality of their business.

For example, contact details and prices must always be up to date.

Want more articles like this? Check out the website design section.

5. Your site is divorced from operations

Does your website work with your business processes and resources? Or does it exist as a standalone entity that is unrelated to your operations?

Your website must be a part of your business. In addition to representing your business in the most appropriate way, your web design must also support the way you work. At the very least, it should not get in your way.

If you stress over the updating of your website, or are concerned people aren’t using all the great functionality, maybe it is time to scale it down!

6. Unsearchable and uncopyable text

Most, if not all, information on the average business website should be in “live” text. This allows users to search within your pages and copy information like your contact details straight into their address books.

Text trapped inside Flash animations and graphic files may look pretty, but it is not usable.

7. Web design with unnecessary distractions

These include:

Splash pages

How does a splash page help your customers? Would you make your customers watch an ad before entering your shop?

Unexpected sound

Do you sneak up on your customers and suddenly shout in their ears? When your website plays a sound unexpectedly, you risk doing exactly that. There is no way to tell if customers have their volume cranked up high, or even if they have speakers to start with.

Irrelevant information

Why are you promoting your web designer, web browsers and various code compliance schemes? Why show your hit counter? Is your site filled with pointless animations?

How do these help your customers or your business?

8. The fashion trap

Web design is subject to fashion trends like most other human activities. However, the latest look and cutting edge web design technology may not suit your business. Worse yet, they may well leave you looking outdated and passé in just a few months.

Your website should reflect your business, not the current fashion trends.

Remember, your website is a business tool. So treat it with the consideration it deserves.

Zern Liew

helps his clients build beautiful businesses by practically innovating across their Branding, Communications, Processes and Systems.

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