Web design for your business is different than designing a personal page. You need to create a professional design that provides your information and products in an easy to read format that gets people to buy or contact you. This seems very intuitive and it is absolutely essential to having a quality business website but there are countless sites on the Internet that incorporate one or more of the mistakes below. A focus on the customer and the user experience on your site with good planning can help prevent missed opportunities.
Layouts With Frames
Frames are one of the bad hold-overs of the old web (i.e. 90’s) that tried to separate the navigation and other areas of the site so they only needed to code the navigation (or certain areas of the site) once. What ended up happening is that frames ended up providing more than one URL for a website page, confused search engines, didn’t display correctly with screen readers, and unnecessarily complicated site maintenance. All of this for something that is now easily completed with server side includes. You’ll notice frames for the lines separating the top, bottom or sides from the rest of the web page or the horrible side scroll bars.
Mistakes With Fonts and Colors
Have you seen the websites that you have to squint to read, the fonts are so ornate that you can’t read it or your eyes actually hurt from trying to read anything on the site? These are all examples of bad use of fonts and colors. Your text needs to be easy to read, not blend in with the background, and not contrast in odd ways with the background (i.e. neon green on black).
Use of Hindering Elements
Do you have a flash intro, an animated gif, music that plays automatically, flash animations that do nothing or other distracting items on your web page? You’re losing business because of this. Don’t make your visitors have to wade through unnecessary design elements to get to the actual meat of your website. Flash is not great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your site and is not compatible with all browser clients. Why would you limit who can view your website?
Hard to Use Navigation
Navigation is essential to your visitors getting around your website. It must be intuitive, easy to find, and easy to navigate to each page. There was a trend for awhile where designers would try to get very clever with their navigation by creating cryptic images, distracting flash animations, hidden navigation or other absurd items to navigate with. All this ended up doing was to get visitors frustrated with the site and just leave.
Do you have broken links on your website? Are there images that don’t show up correctly? Is your design slightly off on the Contact page versus the Products page? Does your website work with all major browsers? How does it look on mobile phones? When asking many business owners these questions or more, the answer is “I don’t know”. That’s because proper testing was not completed for the website. Proper testing includes testing by non-technical users in actual scenarios that users will be in (i.e. buying a product). This is absolutely necessary to providing a professional online appearance.
These are by far not the only web design mistakes that businesses make but they’re some of my favorites. If you have a favorite web design mistake that you’ve seen, leave it in the comments and let me know. In all web design you need to make sure that your site has a professional appearance, is easy to use, and is intuitive to the first time visitor.