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25 + Common Website Design Mistakes to Avoid

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Debbie Ray
June 18, 2007

Debbie Ray
Debbie Ray, owner of http://www.pedigreedpups.com , http://www.the-website-doctor.com , http://www.pedigreeddogs.com and http://www.total-german-shepherd.com is a lifelong animal lover, dog enthusiast and internet business owner. Want to learn how to build a website? Interested in more dog information? Thinking about getting a purebred dog? Interested in the German Shepherd? Promote your dog related website? Check my sites out for more info.
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I'm sure you've seen examples of great websites on the internet - and also examples of really "Bad" websites. First impressions are extremely important - you have about 20 seconds to make that first impression a good one. If you want your visitor to come back you've got to do a lot to impress them in an extremely short period of time.

Many individuals or small business owners often opt to design and build their own websites. Without proper experience or website design background many mistakes are made. If you are a beginner then there are several things you should keep in mind to avoid before designing your website.

Here are several common mistakes which should be avoided when designing your new website.

1. Slow Loading Pages

Problem: Have you ever gone to a website and waited and waited for it to load?

Solution: Optimize your images at a lower resolution to achieve faster loading pages. Keep your page sizes well under 60 KB.

2. Page Layout

Problem: Websites that have the navigation in different places throughout the site. It looks cluttered and unprofessional.

Solution: Be consistent and be organized in your websites layout. Make sure all your web pages look the same and the websites navigation is in the same location on each page.

3. Wild and Crazy Color Schemes

Problem: Have you ever visited a website that has a background with a bright, neon color and can't read the content because the colors are so loud? What's the point?

Solution: Think "easy to read." Avoid dark backgrounds with light colored fonts. White background with black text is best for the general public.

4. Spelling and Grammar Errors

Problem: Spelling and grammar errors just jump off the page.

Solution: Always spell check.

5. Text on the Page

Problem: Most internet users don't read web pages - they scan them.

Solution: Make sure your page is easy to read. Break text into manageable pieces, use sub-headings, short paragraphs, highlighted keywords and bullet points.

6. Font Styles and Sizes

Problem: Serif fonts such as Times New Roman are more difficult to read on a computer monitor. Also, text that is too small or way too big are hard to read.

Solution: Use non-serif fonts such as Arial, Verdana or MS Sans Serif for web pages that will be read online. Your page will look much better, more professional, and will be much easier for your visitor to read.

7. Not Enough "White Space"

Problem: Too many words on a web page can be overwhelming.

Solution: Make your page easy to read by breaking the text into smaller, more manageable pieces. Also, use sub-headings and bullet points.

8. Cheesy Music that the User Cannot Control

Problem: Background music on a site that does not fit. Next, not being able to shut it off.

Solution: If you think you need to use music on your website for some reason, then make sure you offer your visitors the option to turn it off, or on, quickly and easily.

9. Poor Layout and Design

Problem: Have you ever been to a website that is simply just "too much"? It's like they are trying to fill every available pixel of space on the entire page.

Solution: Don't overdo it when designing your pages. Just because you can add something doesn't mean you have to. Leave plenty of white space between your text and images.

10. Overly Long Pages

Problem: Ever been to a website with a page that just scrolls down forever?

Solution: Most people will never scan down to the bottom of really long pages. It's better to have several short pages vs. a few really long pages.

11. Non-Standard Links

Problem: You go to a website and aren't sure which words are really links because the link colors have been changed.

Solution: Don't confuse your users. Keep the link colors as they are.

12. Under Construction signs

Problem: Have you ever been to a website and found a page with no content of any type but a big "Under Construction" sign instead?

Solution: Don't use "Under Construction" signs on your website.

13. Didn't Test Your Web Site

Problem: Ever been to a website that just looks like a mess? Maybe you saw text overlapping images, weird alignment, etc.

Solution: Always check to see what your site looks like in multiple browsers and change accordingly before uploading your site to the web.

14. Unclear Navigation

Problem: You don't enjoy broken links, error pages or too many moving objects - neither do your websites visitors. If navigation is too difficult to follow, visitors won't return.

Solution: Make sure that your navigation is easy to read, find and to follow. Also, make sure that it is in the same spot on all of your websites pages.

15. Sloppy Web Site Copy

Problem: Have you ever visited a website with missing words, bad grammar, or it just didn't make sense?

Solution: Always remember, "Content is King" on the internet, so make sure there is plenty of good, focused information for your visitors.

16. Never Updating Your Site

Problem: Ever go to a website that hasn't been changed at all over the last few times that you've visited it?

Solution: You should always update the content on your site frequently.

17. Too Many Clicks

Problem: Have you ever gone to a website, found something you're interested in checking out, and then had to click, click, click before you found the item you were looking for (if you didn't give up first)?

Solution: Don't test the patience of your visitors. Make sure that everything can be found on your site within 3 clicks or less.

18. No Privacy Policy

Problem: No Privacy Policy page is listed on a website.

Solution: Post a Privacy Policy on your website. Make sure that your customers know that you will not share their addresses with anyone.

19. No Company Contact Information

Problem: A company with no address or contact information is not one you necessarily want to give your money to.

Solution: Email addresses or phone numbers are most often seen as contact information on websites, however, having a physical mailing address on your web site adds another key credibility factor.

20. Using Free Web Hosting

Problem: You visit a web page that has a name so long you'll never remember it because it is from one of those free website hosts.

Solution: If you want your internet business to be taken seriously avoid using free web hosting. This all adds to the issue of credibility.

21. Using Free E-mail Addresses

Problem: You visit a website and try to send an email to them, however the email addresses are not associated with the domain name.

Solution: Using a free email address, such as Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail, is never appropriate for your website. On your website, always use an email addresses associated with your own business domain name.

22. Advertisements

Problem: You've come to a website where the pages are cluttered with a lot of different advertisements.

Solution: A lot of people are using advertisements to earn extra money. That's fine, just don't overdo it.

23. Bad Images

Problem: How many times have you seen a web page with missing graphics files or misshaped images?

Solution: Always optimize your images and use the height and width attributes of the image tag. Additionally, save the files in the right image formats: JPG for Photographs and GIF for artwork.

24. This Website Best Viewed on .....

Problem: This is often seen on many beginner websites.

Solution: Simply don't use this on your website.

25. No Prices

Problem: Websites that don't have product prices listed clearly.

Solution: If you're selling a product on your website, ALWAYS include a price with the item description.

And here's a list of things that you should just avoid, or should not forget, simply because it's the right thing to do, website design-wise. And here they are:

Frames, Hit counters, Orphan pages, Anything "Cutesy", Pop ups, Fancy Fonts, Don't overuse Flash, Avoid Javascript links, Blinking text , Animated GIFs, Missing Meta Tags, Horizontal (sideways) Scrolling, Don't underline or color normal text, Don't forget functional links on your footer, Don't forget about your Marketing Strategies, Don't forget to include anchor text on your links, Never subscribe a visitor for anything without his consent, Don't leave the home page title as "Welcome to Mysite.com", Avoid using all the "Bells And Whistles" simply because you can, Not Taking Advantage of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on your website

Whether you have created your own website or are working with someone else on creating your website, I hope all these ideas above will help you build a better website that steadily attracts visitors. If you've never built a website on your own, I hope the tips above help you design the best site that you can and help you to avoid all these issues in the future. Knowledge is critical.

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