There are all kinds of articles and training in the ethers of the Internet about what to do, best practices, tips and tricks for creating a website. This site included!
But what about all the things you shouldn’t do? What about all the pitfalls to avoid from the beginning? Do you even know what they are? If you don’t know, how can you avoid them?
Fear not! I’ve compiled a list of what NOT to do when creating a website. Feel free to share it so together we can make the web a more beautiful, user friendly, resource for all potential customers.
Problem No. 1. Stuck in the 90’s when it comes to design. Black backgrounds, fireworks, blinking lights and neon text may have been “cool” when the interwebs was in its infancy. But it’s growing up now. Please evolve with it.
Solution No. 1. Peruse some of the websites you use most often, what do they have in common? Sophisticated, easy to read, higher contrast is better for readability, usability, and in order to not invoke an involuntary twitch. Many sites these days have a white or very soft grey background color with black or dark text. Many sites use bolder fonts or a different color font to make that content stand out from the dark paragraph text (no longer making it blink incessantly). In addition, using a larger font helps set in place that hierarchy of information. As for the blinking text and chase-the-mouse to click on something graphics of yore; they too have matured into sleek image sliders, embedded videos, and slight movement of graphics to help capture the eye.
Problem No. 2. No purpose. No direction. No clear reason to the site.
Solution No. 2. Identify the purpose of your website before you ever begin building it. If you run a non-profit business and your goal is to have browsers share your cause – make this very easy for them to do, in multiple ways, on every page. If you want them to walk into your brick and mortar retail location – include a map and directions on your site, in more places than just the contact page.
Problem No. 3. Sending people away too quickly. This can be caused by a lack of focus, challenging navigation, or by not making external links open in new tabs or windows on your browsers’ computer. It could also be caused by making it so hard to find the information they came for in the first place people run away to a search engine for the answer.
Solution No. 3. Add a search box to your website. Make sure navigation is in an acceptable location (either at the top of the screen or down the left side). Don’t hide the navigation. Even on mobile browsers navigation still exists and needs to be looked at and designed well. When linking to external websites make sure it’s very easy for browsers to come back to your website when they are done looking at the external site. Don’t make them click their browser’s back button a dozen times. They won’t do it. Would you?
Problem No. 4. Your site is non-usable on a mobile screen. 50% of mobile users view the web on their device as their primary or exclusive browser. If your site doesn’t render well on this screen it’s unlikely a user will ever stay long enough to figure out what you want them to do.
Solution No.4. There are numerous solutions to ensuring your desktop website degrades gracefully onto smaller screens. Look into responsive design or a completely separate mobile website. If you are creating your website with WordPress, there are thousands of themes available with built in responsive functions. There are also a plethora of plugins to add in order to make your site responsive if the theme doesn’t do it, or even those that will help you create a fully functioning mobile website.
Let’s start with those four elements. If you really think about the design and usability of your website, its purpose, keeping people on your site long enough to fully engage with it, and how your site will look on mobile browsers you’ll be ahead of the curve.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what NOT to do when designing a website, feel free to leave a comment below.