Ten Habits of Bad Web Design

Every self-proclaimed “web designer” and “expert” does not necessarily know what she or he is doing. More often than not they are simply sales types who have decided “there is money to be made” in selling web sites, and they’ll fast talk inexperienced people into buying from them. Baseline Magazine reports ten of the worst mistakes you can make in website design in their article at http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/Intelligence/Ten-Habits-of-Bad-Web-Design-171565/ Basically, these mistakes give the same impression as the fast talking salesman in a pink suit with green stripes, white shoes, and two teeth missing hawking his wares out of a suitcase as he stands in the opening to an alley and watches for police.

1. Shouting — Scrolling text, automatic launches of video and audio, and screen-grabbing ads are all turnoffs.

2. Clutter — An over-abundance of links, boxes, and menus paralyzes visitors with uncertainty, not to mention eye-strain.

3. Unfriendliness — Prescription-label-sized text, ill-used white space, links represented by obscure, unfamiliar icons … these are helping your visitors how?

4. Navigation Hazards — Broken or misdirected links, poorly worded links, an inability to go directly back to the home page—all will drive your visitors batty, if they even stick around.

5. Catastrophic Colors — We’re already on your site. Why the gaudy display of plumage to get our attention?

6. Lack of Contrast — Some color is good. Keeping a visitor’s interest requires balance.

7. Runaway Text — Hiding text off to the side or below the screen without easy scrolling tells users you just don’t care if they read it.

8. Drop-Down Debacles — Drop-down menus that disappear below the visible page and prevent visitors from getting at those unseen links are site-killers.

9. Devilish Details — Grammar gaffes and errors in spelling or fact-checking leave a lasting impression, and not a good one.

10. Printing Problems — Print-configured pages should actually print easily and in a usable fashion.

It does take effort to avoid some of these, and sometimes things such as spelling errors do creep in, but they should be fixed as soon as they are found.  Before even beginning to create a web site one should first decide what the message is and to whom it is directed. Then one chooses appropriate colors, then fonts, layout, and other design details.

For an individual, it may make sense to just use the one minute “instant web site” tools provided by many web hosting companies, such as GoDaddy.com who has a nice selection of very easy to use tools — click, wait a minute, ah, instant web site — and their hosting packages are cheap. In fact some of these tools, for example Web Site Tonight, will even prompt you for your purpose, likes and dislikes, and fill in some content for you.

For a professional, if you can’t or don’t have time, to carefully scope out exactly what you want, at least set up one of the professional looking blog packages, such as WordPress, specify “static pages” with the standard information every web site needs (About Us, Privacy Policy, Contact), and choose a template with a color scheme that evokes the impression that you want. You can see this approach on some of our sites at http://jdnash.org and http://alt-fw.org. By starting in this way you will start working out what you really need in a web site and keep notes for later, when you do have time to think it through in advance and do a nice job.

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