The online world is like a bottomless pit. Websites are launched frequently and several of them suffer from errors that can easily be avoided.
While some of the minor mistakes can merely lead to annoyance among your visitors, the grave ones can inhibit or prevent your visitors from accessing and/or returning to your website.
Finding it difficult to attract traffic to your website and keep your visitors coming back? Then maybe you need to review your website’s design and make it more user-friendly by avoiding some of the common web designing mistakes.
In this post, we look at a few tips on what not to do when designing your website.
1. Placing Illegible and Impertinent Content
Sure you want to educate and inform your website visitors about who you are, and doing so would only make sense. However, in your effort to do so, make sure that you don’t end up making your website verbose and cluttered.
Break the content up into easy-to-read paragraphs instead of presenting large chunks of text. Use subheadings and bullet points to make it more readable. Avoid using jargon and make your content seem more natural rather than promotional.
Filter through your content and weed out anything that is redundant. Keep it relevant, interactive, crisp and concise. Brevity is key here.
Further, make sure that the fonts you use on your website are legible across various reading devices and screen sizes.
2. Creating Bad Links
When making a link in your website content, avoid using words/phrases such as ‘Click here’ or ‘Click here to look at our latest offerings’ to attract attention towards something. Instead, simply make a link on whatever you’re writing about.
Also, before launching your website, make sure that the pages that you link to are functional. Your visitors will hate to land on a page with a 404 error, thanks to the link you provided them with.
3. Poor Navigation
If your website’s navigation isn’t intuitive, chances are it’s going to put your visitors off. Intuitive navigation entails that the site be well-organized and presented in keeping with the navigation conventions accepted worldwide.
It is better to go by standard techniques and locations for navigation elements such as links and menus. Important links such as ‘Home’ and ‘Contact Us’ should be easy to recognize and find. Take care that your Navigation bar looks neither too cramped up, not too sparse. Use internal links to direct your visitors to particular pages. This will help your visitors navigate through the website more easily and without repetition.
4. Using Unlicensed Images and Fonts
Who doesn’t like looking at attractive images on a website? Not only do they do a better job of explaining the content or a story, they also provide the visitors’ eyes with a much-needed break from looking at a wall of text.
However, always get the necessary authorization for the images you use.
Make it a point to keep your images on your server and do not link to other sites for their images. This is akin to stealing bandwidth from the other website (also called hotlinking or inline linking). If the other site takes that image down or changes its location, your visitors will be looking at something totally unrelated.
Another form of stealing (that is a strict no-no as well) is saving a picture from someone else’s page to your server and then using it without their permission.
The good news is that you can access images from several online sources, and some of them are even free.
This applies to the fonts you use as well. Simply downloading a beautiful font from the Internet for free does not mean you can use it on your website. It is better to ensure to check the usage guidelines that come with the font download. Typically, the specifications for commercial use and prices are mentioned in the documentation tab or file that comes with the font.
5. Having Pop-ups
Pop-ups are annoying and no one likes them.
It is, therefore, suggested not to place them on your page, especially because most users tend to have pop-up blockers installed anyway. Otherwise, they will simply close a pop-up without even looking at its contents as they may consider it to be spam or an advertisement. This notion may prevent them from returning to your website in the future.
6. Using Heavy Images, Graphics and Audio
Superfluous use of Flash, animated GIFs, blinking text and auto-load audio can be extremely irksome to your visitors. Further, using heavy images and graphics will also increase the load time of your website.
When you want to attract your visitors’ attention to a particular button/link on your website, you can do so with the help of a great design and placing the said button/link in a logical and obvious place, instead of surrounding it with gaudy and annoying graphics.
6. Poor Use of Color and Contrast
When used properly, contrasting colors can make a website look exceptionally interesting. It is imperative for website designers to understand color theory and apply its principles to achieve this. Apart from that, several online tools can help in this regard.
The rule of thumb here is to use dark text over a light-colored background and vice versa. For example, if your background is black, then your text should not be in dark blue as that would make it very difficult to read.
8. Including Long Registration Forms
If you have online registration forms on your website, ensure that they are short and easy to fill because no one likes to bother with filling multiple fields. Also try and keep your forms so that your visitors need not have to fill out detailed information as that may put them off and they might just abandon your website for good.
9. Creating a Non-Responsive Website
Gone are the days when Internet users used only desktops to browse through websites. Today, they use multiple devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones to do so. Hence, it is necessary that your website be optimized for SEO and is responsive to be viewed on all major screen resolutions, failing which you will stand to lose tremendous traffic.
In order to make sure that your visitors have a pleasant experience when using your website, it is important that you avoid each of the above-mentioned designing mistakes. If you simply think back and draw from your own experiences as to why you may have abandoned a site that you found exasperating, you will understand exactly why these mistakes need to be circumvented at all costs. Dodge these gaffes and you’re sure to create a website that stands head and shoulders above your competitors’.
Gerrid Smith is the CEO of Black Fin, a firm specializing in web design for lawyers. Before that, he held prominent positions as a co-founder at My.com and socially conscious startups Save1 and Moju Project where he provided over 100,000 meals to hungry children in Africa. When not hacking the online marketing space, Gerrid loves skiing, tennis and playing with his two adventurous boys.