10 Web Design NO NO’s

The web has changed a lot and web designers (of all people) know about the need to keep up to date with the latest design “trends”.

This short 10 point guide will hopefully help some people understand the minor problems website design (and content) brings when being viewed by a potential customer.

  1. Pointless Flash Animation
    I’m all up for interactive flash in websites, but only use it if it’s necessary. Many a web developer will say “try doing the same in javascript, it’s better”, which is usually true, but animations which have no purpose other than to distract the user are pointless, bandwidth consuming and damn irritating.
    Check out Avistar’s Globe Animation. It’s awful to look at, and awfully slow.
  2. Highlight too many elements
    The best designs usually incorporate a small colour palette. It’s more pleasing to the eye and makes navigation a lot easier. Try sticking to 2 or 3 colours for each design. Use our site for example, which colours do you see? Blue? White? If glance at the information on the page you will also notice that the navigation links are highlighted while the background image “points” towards the content.
  3. Mystery Meat Navigation
    MMN is an aspect of web design which looks good, but is generally not functional. It forces the user to wave their mouse around the screen to find what they are looking for. It usually ends with them leaving the site and visiting a competitor or even scrapping the reason they visited your website all together.
  4. Develop for one browser, and block the rest…
    Microsoft has done it a lot of times. Either to spite Firefox/Opera/Safari users, to promote it’s own IE or even due to laziness, either way it’s the wrong way to do things. Every website should at least be usable by every web browser (even if not fully supported) otherwise you are shutting off a large percentage of users. The new Beijing olympics site does it. Try viewing it in Firefox.
  5. Rely on Javascript for basic interface and functional design
    It’s all well and good building applications which rely on Javascript, because most of the time these need to be complex, fast and reliable. But to build a site design which relies on the use of Javascript can be a big mistake. Most browsers support Javascript, but most search engines don’t. This means your website may not be indexed correctly and inevitably lose you visitors. Always ensure that if Javascript is disabled, your website is still viewable. Try installing NoScript (FF) or Turning it off in IE to see how your site behaves without it.
  6. Build a site out of sliced images
    It maybe an easy thing to do in Photoshop/ImageReady but it usually involves the site being built using tables and large uncompressed images. It looks rather strange sometimes when the page loads slowly (as the layout moves with the images loading) and because of the images the file size of the website will be significantly larger.
    Because these images are not CSS images they are part of the document and are the first thing to be loaded. If they were included as CSS images the document XHTML (the content) would load first (and the layout too) with the CSS images coming afterwards. It’s a better way to build things. A good example to check out is the Mystery Jets website. It’s slow, ugly and made from sliced images as mentioned. Don’t even bother looking at the HTML, as it’s horrible to look at and very very invalid.
  7. Fight with the web…
    Make sure your sites inviting, and doesn’t scare customers away. By divulging too much information, or even the incorrect information clients may go elsewhere when searching for a developer. A great example of this would be to over announce that your a freelancer, or making out your always busy. Many bloggers divulge this information in their droves, and it can be very off putting to read.
    Try inviting users to view your portfolio, if it’s good enough, throw it all over your website! Potential clients like to see past work to gauge how good you actually are.
  8. Bombard the user with information
    Sometimes you visit a website and get information thrown all in your face. It can be very time consuming and uncomfortable to visit these web pages.
  9. Restrict your visitors input
    How often do you visit a website, register, then come to make up your password only to receive a message like:
    “Your password must be between 6-8 characters and contain at least one number and any of the following characters %$£^&”
    Why 6-8 characters? I understand the numbers and punctuation requirement but it’s still awfully annoying. Expand the password criteria a little more, 6-8 characters is very short and when there are extra requirements it can be very easy to forget your password.
    Another great example is restricting input boxes and textarea boxes too much. If you get it wrong, it can be hugely annoying.
    You need gto let the user do what they feel best with, if they want to enter their phone or credit card number with spaces then so be it, don’t put the restriction on the input boxes, make the software work for them. A simple preg_replace() would fix that problem.
  10. Give your lovely visitors a seizure
    By using animated GIFs, horrible design, bad layout and disastrous interface design your faithful visitors could become disorientated. Ok so a seizure is over the top however, this Jesus website may change your mind…be patient for it to load, it’s a good one! (if it doesn’t work and flash funny colours then try the web archive)

And that’s a wrap. Some of those points you may not agree with and some you may, it’s all a matter of opinion. It’s just a collection of thoughts which seems to annoy the hell out of me, and a lot of other people too.

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