Design Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these mistakes and your site will be steps ahead of your competition.

1. Not planning your site

Before you even have a website, you must have an idea, a focus. Why do you want a website? What are your plans and goals for the site? Sit down and draw out a map of possible pages and ideas for your site. Include your site’s purpose –whether it is to sell more product or make the public more aware of your issue — whatever it may be. Build your site from it’s strong foundation (your goals) and you’ll have a better, more solid site.

2. Failing to put contact information in a plainly seen location.

This could be disastrous. If a customer doesn’t see this information, they can’t contact you. You should consider a ‘Contact Us’ button or link from your Home page. Even better, make a link to your email address in your header or footer, somewhere that will show up on every page. Even if no one ever contacts you this way, just the presence of this information comforts edgy customers.

3. Broken Links

Do you enjoy clicking on a search result only to get a Page Not Found Error? No one likes them. Check your site statistics at least once a month (if not more) to make sure you don’t have bad or broken links.

4. Outdated Information

A sure turn-off to a potential customer is the presence of old information. If it’s July and your website is announcing the ‘new’ products available in February, your site just lost major credibility. Make sure your information is up-to-date. Consider adding a ‘Whats New’ button or a Business Blog.

5. Too Many Font Styles and Colors

This is a huge pet-peeve of my company. I’ve had people ask me to review their website and the first thing I notice is 4 different fonts. It looks bad, unorganized and unappealing. Different colors may attract the eye for a short time, but constant flashing or otherwise bright fonts (and graphics!) become annoying. Beware, this is a sure-fire way to scare people away from your site!

6. Orphan Pages

Every website has a hierarchy, a sort of tree that branches out from the Home Page. While most of your visitors visit you through your home page, there are times when a page further down interests someone, and they may copy that link and send it to a friend. This is where you need to pay attention. That friend may like what you have to offer, but they can’t find out how to contact you, or how to get back to your Home Page. That’s an orphan page. Every page on your site should, at a minimum, have a link back to your Home page. I would suggest adding a contact link at minimum.

7. Frames

Frames at one time were the talk of the industry. They were the original Content Management System (CMS) for your site. Nowadays they are few and far between. If you are designing a site, don’t use frames. Newer technologies such as server-side includes are much more common and accepted. Your pages look fresher and those silly bars don’t get in the way.

8. Disabling the BACK button and excessive Pop-Ups

Have you been to a website and decided that it wasn’t the information you were looking for? When you clicked the BACK button, did you suddenly get a barrage of windows (or, pop-ups) to your dismay? These things rarely actually work, and worse off, the reason you hit the BACK button is because you DIDN’T want any more information from that site. Don’t break the BACK button. There are other ways to get your user’s attention.

9. Slow loading pages

While personal and hobby sites may normally be slow, there should be no reason for your business or other professional website to be slow loading. Today’s Internet surfer won’t wait long for information from your site – there are too many others with the same thing! Make sure your pages load quickly. If the server is slow, consider a different host. If your webpages are full of applets or large graphics, consider a page/site redesign.

10. Using Leading-Edge Technology

While the Internet is all about new and fancy stuff, don’t be the first to do it. While it may ‘look cool’ to you, you ultimately need to decide if it actually enhances your user’s experience. Do the flashy cartoons make your customer more apt to buy from you? Probably not. How many of your customers have to install a Plug-In just to see your page right? Do they have to upgrade their browser to contact you? Not good. Wait until the technology is either more of a standard or gone – you’ll save face with potential and future customers.

Website Basics

The Basics You have a flourishing business – everything is in its place. You just miss one important piece of marketing: an Internet Presence a website. Like everything in business, getting a website needs planning. Getting an effective website needs even more planning. Here are some basic things to know and plan: The WWW What is the www or the internet? Basically a network of websites from all over the world you can access via your computer for which you need an internet connection and a browser. Internet connections are available from ISPs, and most of the popular browsers are free downloads from the internet. Just like writing/typing an address on a postal envelope, you type the website address in the browser beginning with http://www. and ending with either .com, .net, .org, .biz, .nz, .uk, etc. So if you want to access the Microsoft website, you would type http://www.microsoft.com in the browser and hey, presto! You get all the information about microsoft and its products on your browser. Just click on the available links and you are on your way. Your Website Your website will be a bunch of pages all linked together via hyperlinks. You can ofcourse have a one-page website or as many pages as you like – depending on the amount of information you want to share with your visitors. Hyperlinks are text or images pointing to another page, just like the heading of this article points to my website. Your Audience As the web has grown, so has the types of people who access it and how they access it. As we say, it is impossible to please everybody. It is very difficult to design a website which will be accessible to all. Carefully choose your content and design, keeping in mind who your target audience is and what type of equipment they use. Equipment here means the computer and other hardware and also includes the software used for connecting to the internet and browsing it. The best way to reach more people is to use pure HTML, and keep the use of scripting languages like JavaScript, Java, and other plug-ins to the minimum. While this may not make your site flashy,stylish or trendy, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your site is accessible to most of the people. Afterall, that is the whole point of this exercise, right? Designing your website means knowing your audience and their requirements. Content Now that introductions are over, lets get down to the core of your website: Content. The most important aspect of any website, content is the one thing that will keep your visitors at your site and keep bringing them back. The content should depend on what you want to let your visitors know – about the company, the products, the services. Keep the content interesting, updating it often for repeat visitors. Often this can mean providing more details about different aspects in your business, like seasonal discounts, etc. Your visitors will visit your site again and again if the content is relevant, and there is something new every time they visit. Layout A well laid out website will be a successful one. Whether you design the site yourself, or outsource the task to a webdesigner like us, first layout your ideas on paper. Choose text, color and graphics carefully, they all contribute to the page load time. Starting with your Home Page, keep it fast-loading, with a good navigational structure. Try to follow the same layout for the whole website. Change the layout only for different sections and not different pages. If the navigation bar is at the top on your HomePage, keep it at the top in all the other main pages. Consistency in layout is very, very important. These are just some of the basics about building a website. There are many more, some requiring a article all about themselves. Keep visiting, as I plan to write about as many as I can. Ofcourse, you are welcome to email me your suggestions/comments about what you would like to read about in webdevelopment.