Posted at Jul 28, 2009 12:32:12 PM by Bill Teubner | Share
These days, companies pour an incredible amount of money into designing, redesigning, and improving their websites. The problem with laying down a sacrosanct list of web design tips is that website beauty and even functionality is in the eye of the beholder. Dancing icons that are straight out of 1997 may look terrible to some of us, but you can bet there is a die-hard group of folks that refuse to shop from any site that doesn’t have that dancing baby from Ally McBeal on the welcome page. Here are 10 web design tips you probably want to avoid in the future.
Avoid Frames – Frames are about as useful as those dancing babies. They cause people to have to move several scroll bars to see all of your content and they are ugly to boot. Recommendation to avoid.
Don’t require extra plug-ins – A surprisingly small percentage of Internet users are savvy surfers. Just because everyone in your office has the new Shockwave update installed doesn’t mean that your customer base will. Keep it simple and don’t require anything other than what comes with your basic browser.
Basic HTML Standards – it is amazing to think that some people are still using ancient versions of Internet Explorer or even Netscape, but they are. By using universal HTML standards, you make your site accessible to the most people at all times.
Brevity – Unless you are building a site for a niche audience that is expecting a puzzle (the Donnie Darko film website is a good example), you need to get to the point and fast. The average web surfer is going to give you approximately 5 seconds of their time. If you don’t engage them, they are gone, likely never to return.
Communication is Key – Every new business wants to create the coolest website, but cool may not be what sells. Communication, on the other hand, is. You can design a beautiful site that is simple and one that gets your point across fast.
Easy to read – Many sites choose to go the classy route by using excessively complex and ornate scripts instead of easy-to-read block text. This fancy script may communicate the class of product you have, but if folks can’t read it or have to put forth extra effort, they will likely continue surfing elsewhere.
Load times – Web designers are also surprised to learn how much of the world is still using dial up. Your page needs to load fast, so keep things like video and complex graphics to a minimum or give users a Flash vs. HTML choice on your splash page.
Splash pages – Speaking of these handy greeting pages, be sure that users have the chance to skip past them if they have already seen them. Your cool animation may only be cool the first time you have seen it; after that, it is just going to annoy people and lose you business.
Testing – At one point, Internet Explorer had 90% of the browser audience, now they don’t. Make sure you test your website in every browser, including Safari, to see how it looks.
Stay Flexible – Many companies fall in love with a particular look or style that is only fashionable for a short period of time. A dated website can be a killer, so don’t get too attached to anything and stay flexible.