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How to avoid classic web design mistakes

April 23, 2012

With more and more small companies reaping the benefits of going online it is essential to appreciate the importance of having a well designed website, otherwise any efforts you make to drive potential clients to your web address will be in vain.

A poorly designed web site can affect your traffic building effort in two significant ways:

Firstly, badly designed sites will often perform badly in search engine rankings – either because the code has not been properly complied, there are too many images, or the site hasn’t been test across multiple browsers. Of course, if you have employed ‘dubious’ SEO techniques designed to ‘game’ Google, then you may well be penalised for breaching Google’s quality guidelines – read our article on the Google’s latest clampdown on shoddy websites.

Secondly, if you have managed to attract visitors to your new website, but they are greeting with a messy, unattractive page when they arrive, they will leave as soon as they arrive. If your site navigation is below par, they will not be able to move around your site easily, and will return to Google to find a better site to browse.

Here are come classic web design mistakes you should avoid:

Web Design Errors to Avoid

1. Navigation – make sure your internal navigation makes it easy for your visitors to move around your site. Use simple menu bars, and use hyperlinks to guide your users to important articles on your site.

2. Graphics – try not to overwhelm your visitors with too many graphics, and make sure you don’t overload your pages with flashing advertisements. If graphics are slow loading, you will instantly put people off browsing your site.

3. What’s New? – keep your site updated and ‘fresh’ to encourage visitors to return in the future. Google is known to use ‘freshness’ of content as an indicator of site quality in its ranking algorithm.

4. Spell Check – always pass your content through a spell checker, either browser-based, or on your word processor. If possible, let a colleague or friend check your content before it goes live, in case you have made some grammatical errors.

5. Code – if you are designing a new site, comply with the latest web standards, use CSS where possible, don’t put too much Javascript in your code – place it in separate files if necessary.

6. Frames – once a popular way of designing web pages, frames are not widely used these days – visitors, browsers and the search engines do not like them!

7. Broken Links – these can be frustrating to visitors (and the search engines). Use a broken link checker to keep your links updated. Create an appealing 404 error page to help visitors find what they are looking for if they click on a broken link.

8. Standard Fonts – use a single, web-safe font, and try to standardise the look and feel of the content on your site. Don’t over-use headers, or text decoration.

9. Social Media – you are not obliged to cover your site with social media buttons, especially if you have a niche / low traffic site. Use your Twitter / Facebook buttons sparingly.

10. Keep it Simple – the most visited sites on the web are often very simple. They are well designed, easy to navigate, and have compelling content – look at the BBC news site, for example. One of the best examples of a well designed website.

If you are interested in finding a new role in the web design world, try Web Design Jobs for some inspiration.