No intro necessary here: just don’t do — or let your web designer do — this stuff.
- Make It Obvious What the Page is About: if a surfer can’t identify why your page exists within 2-3 seconds, they’re gone. Get to the point, right away.
- Make Your Content Scannable: no one comes to the Internet to read a book. Bullet points, headers, subheaders — anything that assists people in scanning your content for The Goods is good for you. As a sub-point, don’t mix your AdSense or whatnot in with your content.
- Make Your Content Accessible: big, clear letters in readable fonts; obvious pictures and purposes for every button — do everything you can to unconfuse the surfer before they ever get confused.
- Don’t Open New Windows For Your User:
is bad nettiquette these days. If the user wants to get back to your site, let them use the Back button.
- Don’t Ask Anyone to Register Unless It Really Matters: people use the internet to get information, not so they can give it. Unless you’re offering something worth the squeeze, just drop it.
- Never Make Anything Opt-Out: opt-in is still totally cool, but we’re wise to the opt-out crap. I dropped Avast like a bad habit when they made Google Chrome and then Google Drive opt-out secondary installs — it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Don’t be like that.
- Don’t Use Flash Unless It Really Matters: it’s one thing to be a Flash game portal or whatnot, but if you’re throwing Flash around because it’s pretty, you’re ignoring the end user’s desire for quick-loading, low-bandwidth pages. Don’t.
- Don’t Autoplay Anything: Videos, music, anything. Unless the page is literally just that one thing and no one would ever come there to not play that one thing, autoplay is a huge no-no. Users want control, and you should give it to them.
- Quit With the Badges: This isn’t 1996; no one cares what netrings you’ve joined or who has given you some 32×128-pixel ‘award’. If you want to show off, do it on your About Us page — but it’s best do not do it at all.
- Have All Of Those ‘Silly’ Background Pages: it’s not a good idea to skip out on the Contact Us, Terms of Service, End User License Agreement, and so on. You never know when someone will want to leave you feedback, find some clever way to abuse your service, etc. It’s also just basic professionalism.
- Do Not Use Blinking Text (Or Comic Sans): As mentioned: not 1996 anymore.
- Use CSS, Not HTML Tables: As mentioned: not 1996 anymore.
- Make the Whole Website Searchable: Unless you have good reason to hide a page (such as the download page of a site selling an eBook), the only thing hiding pages does is lower your chances at nabbing organic search traffic.
- Don’t Use Images As Links: text navigation is faster, and works even for surfers who have images turned off.
- Keep Navigation Simple: less is more.
- Don’t Waste Users’ Time: no one wants to sit through your clever 15-second “intro” to your website, and no one wants to have to tab through 14 separate screens to read an article that could just as easily have been put on a single screen.
- Make Links Visible; Make What You’re Linking to Obvious: sites with links that don’t stand out from the rest of the text are annoying — but not nearly as annoying as clicking what looks like an innocent link and having your computer lock up solid for fifteen seconds while FoxIt Reader wakes up and loads the PDF you just linked to.
- Use the Alt and Title Tags for All Your Images: blind users need those tags, straight up — and SEO benefits come with their proper use as well.
- Don’t Use Pop-ups: there’s a reason pop-up blockers are as common as antivirus software these days.
- Don’t Ever Require a User to Scroll Horizontally: if you don’t already know how irritating this is, consider yourself blessed…and then don’t do it anyway.
This list is neither exhaustive nor comprehensive, but if you avoid all of these things, you’re well on your way to being able to design a solid website. Keep it up!