Web design is a technical undertaking. Doing it right requires learning HTML, PHP, MySQL, Flash, CSS and… well, that’s a start anyway. Suffice it to say, there’s always a new skill or programming language to master when you design and build websites for a living.
With so many technical considerations simmering in the background, it’s easy to lose track of the user. A website can be a technical masterpiece, but if it doesn’t appeal to users then it is a bottom-line failure.
With that in mind, the following are five not-so-obvious faults that often creep into web design:
1. Too much deep linking
Deep linking gets a lot of positive press in terms of SEO, and this leads web designers to go overboard linking pages within a site to one another. This is not to say that deep linking should not be leveraged. It has, after all, been shown to reduce bounce rates and lead potential customers toward that all-important sale. B y the same token, it also generates user fatigue. Make us click too many times, and we’re liable to become confused or – worse yet – flustered. In either event, we’re getting out of here.
2. Using HTML tags to reduce images
Yes, it is possible to use ‘height’ and ‘width’ HTML tags to make an image fit tidily on a page. However, in order for this to be properly executed, the user’s computer has to download the complete image first. It’s better to use picture editing software to reduce the image to its correct size before adding it to your site. Pages load faster and website performance increases because users are less likely to bounce.
3. Poor choice of font and background colors
This one may seem a bit too obvious for this list, but all it takes is a cursory tour of the Internet to see that plenty of web designers out there insist on using font colours and backgrounds that do not have enough contrast. If I have to copy text from your site and paste it into a word processor just so that I can read it, I’m going to assume that whatever you’re selling is just as poorly designed.
4. Inconsistent design
There are designers, and then there are Web designers. While you can certainly be both, most Web designers don’t have a strong design background, and this makes them more likely to gloss over some of the more aesthetic details of design. At bare minimum, a site needs to have a unified design, which builds confidence and makes the user feel more comfortable.
5. Design that resembles advertisements
You and I both understand that your site is a means of advertising your product. To be fair, your target clients realize that, too. Just do your best not to remind them of it while they are having a look at your content. The average consumer is exposed to something on the order of 5,000 advertising messages in the average day. Five thousand ads! They’ve seen enough, and as soon as they feel like you’re pitching too strongly, they’re going to zone you out or close that browser tab.
Nicole McLean writes for NCC Group, a company that offers businesses across the world with expert website performance monitoring, software escrow and verification, and security testing services.