43 Web Design Mistakes You Should Avoid
There are various lists of web design mistakes on the Internet. However, most are “most common” or “top 10 mistakes”. Whenever I crossed one of these lists, I thought: “Come on, there must be more than ten mistakes…”. So I wrote down all the web design mistakes I could think of. In half an hour, he had listed more than thirty of them. After that, I researched the web, and the list grew to 43 points.
The next step was to write a short description for each one, and the result is the collection of errors you’ll see below. Some points are common sense, and others are controversial. However, most apply to any website, whether we are talking about a business or a blog. Enjoy!
1. The user should know what the site is about within seconds: Attention is one of the most valuable currencies on the Internet. Visitors who need help figuring out what your site is about in a few seconds will probably go elsewhere. Your site should explain why I should spend my time there, fast!
2. Make the content scannable: This is the Internet, not a book, so forget big blocks of text. I’ll probably visit your site when I’m working on other things, so make sure you can scan all the content. Bullets, headings, subheadings, lists. Anything that helps the reader filter what they’re looking for.
3. Don’t use fancy fonts that are unreadable – There are sure to be some fonts that will give your website a fancy look. But are they worth reading? If your main goal is to get a message across and get visitors to read your stuff, you must make the process comfortable.
4. Don’t Use Small Fonts – The point above applies here. You want to make sure readers feel comfortable reading your content. My Firefox has a Zoom feature, but if I need to use it on your website, it’s probably the last time I visit.
5. Don’t open new browser windows – I used to on my first websites. The logic was simple. If I opened new browser windows for external links, the user would never leave my site. Error! Let the user control where they want to open links. There’s a reason browsers have a big “back” button. Don’t worry about sending the visitor to another website; they will come back if they want to (even porn sites are starting to realize this recently…).
6. Do not resize browser windows: Users should control their browsers. If you change the size, you risk screwing things up on his end, and worse, you could lose your credibility with him.
7. They don’t require registration unless necessary: Let’s be clear, I want information when I browse the Internet, not the other way around. Only force me to sign up and leave my email address and further details if necessary (unless your offer is good enough that I’ll sign up).
8. Never subscribe to a visitor without their consent: Don’t automatically subscribe a visitor to newsletters when they sign up on your site. There are better ways to make friends than sending unsolicited emails.
9. Don’t Overuse Flash: Apart from increasing the loading time of your website, overuse of Flash can also irritate visitors. Use it only if you need to offer features not supported by static pages.
10. Don’t Play Music – In the Internet’s early years, web developers tried to integrate music successfully into websites. Guess what? They failed miserably. Don’t use music, period.
11. If you want to play an audio file, let the user start it – an audio file may be required in some situations. You may need the user to speak, or the tour may have an audio component. Okay fine. Just make sure the user is in control and let them hit the “play” button right after entering the website instead of playing music on their face.
12. Don’t clutter your website with badges: First, network and community badges make the site look unprofessional. Even if we are talking about awards and recognition badges, you must put them on the “About Us” page.
13. Don’t use a homepage that opens the “real” website – the fewer steps a user takes to access your content, the better.
14. Make sure you include contact details: There is nothing worse than a website with no contact details. This is not only bad for visitors but also bad for you. You may miss important feedback along the way.
16. Don’t use blinking text: Unless your visitors are coming straight from 2023, that is.
17. Avoid Complex URL Structures – A simple keyword-based URL structure will not only improve your search engine rankings but also make it easier for the reader to identify the content of your pages before visiting.
18. Use CSS on HTML Tables – HTML tables were used to create page layouts. However, with the advent of CSS, there is no reason to stick with them. CSS is faster and more reliable and offers many more features.
19. Make sure users can search the entire website – One of the reasons why search engines revolutionized the Internet. You probably guessed it because they make finding the information we’re looking for much more accessible. Please don’t ignore it on your site.
20. Avoid “drop-down” menus: The user should be able to see all navigation options immediately. Using “drop-down” menus can confuse things and hide the information the reader wants.
21. Use Text Navigation – Text navigation is faster and more reliable. Some users, for example, browse the Internet with images disabled.
22. If you’re linking to a PDF, please report it: Have you ever clicked on a link only to see your browser freeze while Acrobat Reader displays that (unwanted) PDF? Launches to open F? This is quite annoying, so ensure you include clear links pointing to the PDF so users can handle them properly.
23. Confuse the visitor with too many versions: Avoid confusing the visitor with too many versions of your website. Which bandwidth should I prefer? 56Kbps? 128Kbps? Flash or HTML? Dude, give me the content!
24. Don’t mix ads within content: Mixing ads like AdSense units within your range can increase your click-through rate in the short term. However, in the long run, this will reduce your reader base. An annoying visitor is a lost visitor.
25. Use a straightforward navigation structure: Sometimes, less is more. This principle generally applies to people and elections. Make sure your website has a unique and detailed navigation structure. The last thing you want is for the reader to need clarification about where to find the information they’re looking for.
26. Avoid “introduction”: Don’t force the user to watch or read something before accessing the original content. It could be more enjoyable and will only last if your offer is truly unique.
27. Don’t use FrontPage: This point extends to other cheap HTML editors. Although they appear to simplify web design, the result will be poorly designed code, incompatible with different browsers, and with various bugs.
28. Make sure your website is compatible with all browsers: Not all browsers are the same, and not all interpret CSS and other languages the same way. Whether you like it or not, you must make your website compatible with the most used browsers on the market, or you will lose readers in the long run.
29. Make sure to add anchor text to links: I admit I made this mistake a while back. It’s easy to tell people to “click here.” But it could be more efficient. Be sure to include relevant anchor text in your links. This will ensure the reader knows where they are going if they click the link, and it will also create SEO benefits for the external site the link points to.
30. Don’t hide links – In addition to having clear anchor text, the user should also be able to see where the link is pointing in their browser’s status bar. Your site will lose credibility if you hide your links (either as affiliate links or for other reasons).
31. Make Links Visible – The visitor should be able to identify what is clickable and what is not quickly. Make sure your links are contrasting (standard blue is best most of the time). You can also underline them.
32. Do not underline or color regular text: Do not underline standard text unless necessary. Just as users need to be able to recognize links easily, they shouldn’t think something is clickable when it isn’t.
33. Change the color of clicked links: This point is significant for the usability of your website. Color-changeable clickable links help users navigate your site more efficiently, ensuring they don’t accidentally visit the same pages.
34. Don’t use animated GIFs – Unless you have banner ads that require animation, avoid animated GIFs. They make the site look unprofessional and distract from the content.
35. Make sure to use ALT and TITLE attributes for images: Apart from SEO benefits, ALT and TITLE details for ideas will play an essential role for blind users.
36. Don’t use intense colors: If a user gets a headache after visiting your site for 10 minutes straight, you should choose a better color scheme. Design the color palette around your goals (i.e., provide a mood, allow the user to focus on the content, etc.).
37. Do not use pop-up windows: This point refers to pop-up windows of any kind. Even with the growing number of pop-up blockers, user-requested pop-ups could be better.
39. Add functional links to your footer – People tend to scroll down on a website’s footer if they need help finding specific information. At a minimum, you want to include a link to the homepage and possibly a link to a “Contact Us” page.
40. Avoid Long Pages – If users need to scroll down to read your content, they will skip it altogether. If this is the case with your website, make it smaller and improve the navigation structure.
41. No horizontal scrolling: While some vertical scrolling is tolerable, the same cannot be said for horizontal scrolling. The most common screen resolution today is 1024 x 768 pixels, so make sure your website fits.
42. No Spelling or Grammar Errors – This is not a web design fault, but it is one of the most significant factors affecting the overall quality of a website. Make sure your links and text do not contain spelling or grammatical errors.
43. If you use CAPTCHA, make sure the characters are readable: Many sites use CAPTCHA filters to reduce spam in comments or registration forms. There is only one problem, most of the time, the user has to call his whole family to understand the letters.