30 Web Design Mistakes You Should Avoid

dukeo.com

design mistakes

1. Blinking text and/or graphics

All that blinking is annoying, even in small doses. Yes, it does attract attention. The wrong kind of attention.

2. Music

The very worst thing you can do is have music playing on your site when the visitor arrives. Many users are browsing at work and don’t want everyone to know it. Not to mention the fact that it’s just plain annoying.

3. Big blocks of text

Big blocks of text are for novels. Keep your writing brief and on point. Use bullet points and headers to bring attention to the key points of your blog post so readers can easily scan and find what they’re looking for.

4. Fancy fonts

Fancy fonts might look good to you but for most people they’re hard to read. Stick to standard fonts so everyone can read your content.

5. Links that open up new windows, tabs or pages

In the past it was recommended to set your links so they opened a new page, window or tab, but users are much more internet savvy now and they resent having all those pages open. They know how to use their back button. Let them use it.

6. Resizing the browser

Don’t set your site to non-standard resolutions with the intention of making it easier to read. Your visitors know how to change their resolutions if necessary.

7. Video/Audio files that start automatically

When you use videos or audio files, let your visitor control when he turns them on and off. Don’t have them start automatically when he hits the page.

8. Cluttered sidebars

Clean up your sidebars and get rid of irrelevant ads and banners. Nobody’s clicking on them anyway.

9. Too many ads in the content section

10. Unreadable font colors

Yeah, that bright white font looks cool on that black background – for about 10 seconds. Use a dark font on a light background so it’s easy for everyone to read.

11. Loud colors

Again, color combinations matter. Remember, you’ll have people of all ages visiting your site. If they’re “blinded by the light” they’re not going to stick around.

12. Image navigation

Using images for navigation is a great idea – unless the visitor has images turned off. Always use text links for all navigation.

13. Cross browser compatibility’

Websites appear differently in different browsers. Check your blog’s appearance at BrowserShots.org.

14. Click Here

Click Here makes for lousy anchor text. First, just go do a search and see how many Click Heres there are on the web. It does nothing for your SEO. Second, most visitors want to know what they’re going to find when they Click Here. Tell them – Read the following article for more information about XYZ Widgets and use the whole article title for your link. At the very least, use keywords for anchor text, and vary them from post to post.

15. NSFW images

Unless you’re operating a porn site always warn your readers that images ahead may be ‘Not Safe For Work’ and if they’re especially revealing, link to them so the visitor has the option of avoiding them altogether.

16. Underlined text

Don’t use underlined text. Your visitors will think it’s a link. If you want to highlight something, use italics or bold.

17. Use ALT and TITLE attributes for images

Be sure to use clear, keyword rich ALT and TITLE tags for images for visitors who are blind.

18. Pop-ups, pop-unders, and opt-in required

Get them off your site. Period.

19. Horizontal scrolling

People hate to scroll vertically so you can imagine how happy they’ll be if the have to scroll horizontally, too.

20. Spelling and Grammar errors

You want your readers to view you as a professional. If you have to, compose your blog posts in a document editor that has spell check and then copy and paste to your blog. And learn the rules of grammar usage.

21. Impossible to read captcha

If you’re using captcha software, make sure it’s readable and it works. I’ve passed up many a free offer because I couldn’t get the captcha to work. You coulda had me on your list!

22. Cutesy blog name and titles

You have approximately 2 seconds to grab the visitors’ attention and keep them on the page. If they have to stop and think about your blog title or your post titles, well… they just won’t.

23. Tiny fonts

If you want to tell your readers a secret, put it in quotation marks. But don’t use teeny-tiny fonts that nobody can read.

24. Dozens of categories

Use clear, keyword rich titles for your categories and limit the number. Your readers don’t have time to analyze 15 or more categories, trying to decide where you might have hidden a piece of information.

25. Be sure to include contact information

Your readers look for it and Google demands it. Make sure everyone can easily contact you.

26. Confusing navigation

Eliminate drop downs, get rid of that second and third row in the navigation bar and don’t scatter your categories all up and down your sidebar. Make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for.

27. Ads inside the content

Those Adsense ads you’re tucking into the center of your content are a distraction. Yeah, they might get a click or two. But more often than not the just drive your visitors away.

28. Make clicked links a different color

Set a different font color for clicked links so your visitors can tell what they’ve already read and what they haven’t.

29. Forcing the reader to pay for information

Deliver on your titles. If the title says you have seven tips, then give your visitor all seven tips. Don’t make him sign an opt-in form or buy your ebook to get the last five.

30. PDF files for online reading

Providing PDF files is fine if it’s a takeaway product, something your reader would really want to print out and save. Otherwise, your visitors don’t really like PDFs because they don’t open the same way a web page does and they have to use different functions to control them.

Stéphane Kerwer
Article written by Stéphane Kerwer (1995 Posts)
Bonjour from a french guy. My name is Stéphane Kerwer and Dukeo is my blog. I do most of the heavy lifting in here but from time to time, you may see some guest posts. To receive updates from Dukeo, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.
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21 Comments (Add one)

  1. Raplus

    Yes these are the big mistakes, readers doesn’t like this type of blog or website( Specially Pop-up ads).

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for your comment Raplus

  2. Imran Anwar

    Excellent list. I stopped using weather.com because of the horrible shockingly loud video clip that auto starts EVERY time you go to their page or even go back from a subsequent link.

    There should be a law requiring CEOs of any company with more than 1000 employees to have to personally sit through a visit to their web site as a typical user, once a month. The weather.com guy would quit. I am sure that is not the only horrid site out there.

    Thanks.

    Imran Anwar

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I completely agree with you Imran, auto-playing video and audio are disastrous. And it’s even worse if they can’t be paused or stopped.

  3. Rob

    Good tips.
    Disagree with #5 though. I don’t like links that take you away from site.
    You left out the most important tip: make sure your site is mobile friendly.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Nowadays, if people want to keep both sites opened at the same time, they’ll just do a Ctrl+Click. You’re completely right about the need of having a mobile-friendly site!

      1. Dwayne Kilbourne

        Many know about that trick, but others who do not know about it might not know shortcuts on how to see their entire recent page history (right clicking on the back button), so I help them! I do think that browsers should offer advanced settings for power users who are annoyed by opening links in new windows/tabs and enable them to opt-in to always overriding them!

        1. Sté Kerwer

          The browser option to override the link settings is very interesting… On Dukeo, I always ask myself what’s my goal with each link before deciding if I make it opening in a new tab or in the same one.

  4. Kamara
    Kamara

    You highlighted most of the stuff I have been subconsciously complaining about every time I go to somebody’s website. Now I’m going to make sure I don’t see them on mine.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I’m glad I helped you put words on your thoughts!

  5. social alert
    social alert

    very nice tips. thank you. music. this is big mistake.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. Tovah
    Tovah

    OK…I’m only guilty (I think) of 4 of the above.

    Really great list, but my number 1 hatred is those captcha things. After trying for 3 times and I still haven’t gotten it, I move on.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I hear you… Captcha tends to push me away when they are too complicated.

  7. Carol Lynn

    You were very kind in titling your post “mistakes” as opposed to “completely baffling and annoying things you should never do”. Blinking text! Do people still do that? I’ll add this one: layout schizophrenia. Some people love to play with their fonts and sizes and colors and blockquotes and pretty much every tool on the menu. It’s very distracting to read something that’s broken up a hundred different ways. Great points here, and ones everyone should be paying close attention to, please, for the sake of my bleeding eyes!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks a lot for your comment Carol. I agree about the layout schizophrenia issue. However, I don’t like it either when there is no formatting at all. I guess it’s all about balance…

      1. Carol Lynn

        Oh I totally agree – there has to be formatting that makes it easy to read. Short paragraphs, lists, headings… so yes, a balance is important.

  8. Dwayne Kilbourne

    Nice list, but I disagree with not having links opening in new tabs… what’s one more tab? If they are exploring the new link, I don’t make them use the back button; they have the other tab for it; it they want to leave the site that they first clicked the link on, they can easily do that at their convenience!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      “What’s one more tab?” is the exact reason why I end all my days with 40 to 60 tabs open…

  9. Kelly Taylor-Faye

    Great thoughts on building and maintaining sites. I loved the read – everything except the worn out mouse from SCROLLING DOWN THE PAGE SO FAR!…just joking. Good job and totally agree with you on all of them. I was a firm believer in PDF’s until having to work with someone in their 50′s who couldn’t figure out how to save, print or navigate them once open. I was a bit in disbelief – but its true!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Hehe, thank you for the kind words Kelly, and sorry for your mouse scroll ;)