Great Design

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Mistakes Made In Website Design

Oct 12, 2007


Websites are a big part of my life. I spend a lot of time using them, so a good design is a must. I know i'm not the master of web design but I do know what is good and what is bad. This post will be about the common mistakes that I personally think are made in web design and possible a reason why.

1) The Website Takes To Long To Load

There is a general consensus that websites have about three to fours seconds to load on a broadband internet connection before a user gets bored and visits another website. This mistake is usually caused by designers putting large images in there layout or flashy graphical elements. They do look sweet but if it loads slowly I can find my content else where. For extra reading check out this BBC news article about website shopping and the four second cut off point. The same principle applies to nearly any website. The only pages I do let load are ones with video, where the video is the last thing to appear.

2) The Navigation Changes.

A website where the navigation bar changes depending on which part of the website you are on is great in theory but it doesn't really work. For example small changes such as if the page you are on is "Tutorials" and the tutorial link is diminished, this is fine. But if the whole navigation bar changes it confuses new users and people begin to find it difficult to find particular parts of your website.

3) Broken Links

When I come across a website and I click a link and it comes up with a 404 error or similar, this really annoys me. If you design a website and I can't get to the page why both putting it in there. It doesn't take long if you, or a group of you, to check your site for anything that is broken.

4) None Standard Links

This mistake sort of blends in with number 3. A link on a website should be a colour, preferably blue, and have a small underline. The biggest mistake is when designers change the colours or blend the link in so much that I don't no its a link. This is confusing. Links which are images are not to bad as long as the image relates to the link. A check out link should be a little shopping basket, this is good design. A bad mistake is when, say for example, a fruit website uses a banana to link to the check out, or an apple to link to contact information. Its confusing and bad design.

5) No Target Audience / Doing To Many Things

A website should be ideally focused on one or a couple of topics. This way a user knows exactly what the website is about. Bad design comes manly when a designer or client wants the website to do everything. Nothing gets done well and it is all a bit glossy. A well designed websites wants to have a specific purpose and target audience.

6) Crazy Colour Schemes

Mixing green and black may look good on paper but it usually doesn't on the web. How many times have you seen a Myspace page or kids website having green text and black background. Not all web designers use such drastic colours but i've seen some colour schemes that are best left alone. "My EYE'S!"

7) Best Viewed In / Doesn't Work In Other Browsers

You see in some website design a small piece or text or image that says "Best Viewed in Internet Explorer 7 and 1024 x 720 Resolution." This is really bad. I don't personally care if you website is best viewed in 1024 x 720 resolution I want to view it on my 30 inch wide screen monitor and I want it to look good. If it doesn't work in any other browser, this should have been checked. On the internet people view websites in hundreds of different ways. It should work on all. I know there is a gripe that some websites only work in IE and not Firefox. I think this is the worst kind of web design when a site is browser specific.

8) Too Many Pages To Click Through

Some websites do need users to click through a couple of websites, such as when you are purchasing a product. But I should not be there all day. If a website is designed that I have to click on 50 links to get what I want, its not well designed. For example check out this post, about the 16 steps to buying / transferring a product from Godaddy. It may seem good on paper but it doesn't work in reality. It should be as quick and painless as possible. To many pages to do something simple. Bad Design.

9) Crazy Amount Of Adverts

I know websites need to use some sort of advertising based income to subsidies the site, but it doesn't need to be crazy. For example I personally think a website should have only a couple of adverts. I'm not a bigger fan of adverts to start with and use Adblock frequently. But if a website does have adverts they shouldn't clutter the page. Over use is; pop-ups and pop unders, a column dedicated to just adverts, at the top and bottom of the page, in every fourth line of your post. Over use takes the user away from the content and pisses them off. I know I have adverts but I don't think there intrusive. I also don't earn very much from them.

10) Splash Pages

Nearly all of the time, splash pages are a website of time and space. There are off course places to put such pages. For example gambling and pr0n, where I think it is required by law but now where else. The reason splash pages are of bad design is people just look for the skip button and don't look or use the splash page. They are not needed.


#1) Spelling Errors

Although this is not a big mistake, spelling errors are annoying. I don't mind the odd error, I seem to make them all the time. But if a website contains hundreds of spelling and/or grammar errors it tells me that you are not interesting in your site. This is gives me a bad impression and I will probably not return.

#2) No Contact Information

Although this isn't a major error in website design it does become a little annoying if I want to contact you about your product, service or to suggest something. Having no contact information says to me that you can't be bothered. A little bit of information goes a long way. For example I've been contacted numerous times and i'm happy to respond and talk to people.

I think i'll stop there. I could go on for a long while explaining the millions of mistakes that appear in web design. But 10 is a good number, plus bonus. If you have any more please leave them in the comments. And remember to have a good website design.


Benni Austin said...

I'm not usually a grammar Nazi, but I noticed 3 grammar errors in the paragraph about grammar errors.

James Powell said...

Ah you see its supposed to be like that.


Anonymous said...

there were more than three

James Powell said...


Anonymous said...

Yep, spelling and grammar check are a must. There were grammatical and spelling errors through the entire tutorial.

Excellent points though, what you've detailed here is essentially known as "Usability".

Sam said...

nice post:)

Check out Website Usability Blog

James Powell said...