The biggest mistakes we currently see in web design
Here at Wecan Media we come across a lot of clients approaching us to help them with their current websites. They may have been designed by themselves using a DIY type template or even a professional company, either way the website isn’t working for them how it should. Over the years, having come across a number of websites designed outside of our offices, we’ve come to recognise common mistakes that will undoubtedly have negative impacts. Here are some of the worst.
PDF files for online content
PDF files immediately break the flow of an otherwise great website. They make would-be simply tasks such as printing and saving documents difficult. Browsing even becomes quite tough as a PDF file is optimised for an A4 sheet of paper as opposed to a user’s browser window. This means users can say goodbye to smooth scrolling and hello to small illegible font. If you want to use it for printing or distributing manuals then great however we strongly recommend you use it solely for this; any other information should be browsed or read on real website pages only.
Keeping visited links the same colour
If you give users a good idea of where they’ve already visited you’ll help them along their journey a lot better. Knowing past and present locations within a website makes it easier for users to decide where they need to go next or where they need to go back to, allowing them to exclude links that have proven fruitless or highlight ones that were worth keeping an eye on. This makes the navigation of a website a lot better as it stops users unintentionally revisiting the same pages over and over again. These benefits can only be had however if the user can tell the difference between a visited link and an unvisited link. A good website will change the colour of a visited link to show the user. Studies have shown that users will struggle with navigation and can easily become disorientated when the colour of a link doesn’t change.
Fixing the font size on your website
CSS style sheets can sadly give websites the authority to fix their font size, disabling the web browser’s ability to change as and when it’s needed. Around 95% of the time however this font size is absolutely tiny and simply reduces the readability of it for most people who are over the age of forty. When it comes to font size the website should respect the users preference and allow them to change and resize the text as and when it’s needed.
Low visibility page titles
Search is the single most important way that users will find and visit your website. It’s also one of the ways users will navigate their way around the websites themselves. A page title is a great tool for attracting new visitors from search listings as well as helping existing visitors locate specific pages. The page title is contained in the HTML title tag and is used (most of the time) as the clickable headline on the search engine results pages. A search engine on most occasions will show the first sixty six characters of the title. It’s important to start with the company name and brief description. Starting with words like ‘the’ or ‘welcome’ will only alphabetise you under those letters. For pages other than the homepage we suggest starting with information-carrying words that describe exactly what the user will find on the page.
Too much supposed advertising
Over the years, users of your websites have learnt to stop paying attention to adverts that get in the way of their goal, whatever it may be. Unfortunately this means users will also completely ignore legitimate design elements that might look like forms of advertising. Therefore it’s best to simply avoid any sort of design that looks in any way shape or form like an advertisement. For more specific direction it’s best to avoid banners, as users never fixate on anything that looks like a banner ad. It’s also a good idea to avoid animation as a lot of users ignore blinking or flashing text. Users also tend to close pop-up windows before they’ve even fully opened.
Opening up new windows
This isn’t unlike emptying an ashtray on someone’s carpet when trying to sell him or her a vacuum cleaner. Don’t pollute your users screens with any more windows then they already have. The strategy is not only messy but it can also be quite self-defeating as it disables the back button and stops them returning to your previous pages. Often users won’t notice that a new window has opened especially if they’re using a small screen on a smartphone for instance and this can confuse a user. A link should be a simple hypertext reference that instead of changing pages replaces the page with new content. Remember if a user wants a new page they’ll use their ‘open in new window’ command and do it themselves.
Not answering questions
The majority of users are massively goal driven and don’t spend their time aimlessly wandering the millions of pages on the Internet for nothing. They visit websites because they have something to accomplish such as purchasing a product or finding information so if your website doesn’t provide the information your users are looking for then it’s failed. This would mean losing a sale simply because you lack the information or have hidden it under layers of brand slogans and banners. Price is probably the most specific piece of info customers will use to understand a product or service and not providing it makes people feel lost. Often this will reduce their understanding of a product line too.
If you want to ensure your website doesn’t fall victim to anyone of these web design mistakes then contact us here at Wecan Media today. We’ll get your current website up to scratch or even create a brand new one that will have you flying above your competitors in no time at all.