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10 Common Web Design Mistakes

Published on September 2, 2011
Tags: Web Design London

Working in web design, the team at Ampheon often spend time looking through websites to see what’s out there, find out what’s new and research different options for our clients. Many of these websites are great, but sometimes we come across pages or even whole websites that leave something to be desired. So, in the spirit of sharing and promoting the benefits of top quality web design, read on to find out about 10 common web design mistakes that all web designers – amateur and professional – should avoid.

Graphics Overload

Of course, graphics are an important part of any website and web designers spend a long time making sure they are exactly right. There is, however, a need to get the balance of graphics on a website right. Too few and the website might look boring, but too many and it can look cluttered and become distracting to the visitor. Lots of graphics – especially big ones such as banners – can also slow the website down as well, leading to a reduction in the quality of the user experience.

Too Many Adverts

Adverts on a website can be a good way of promoting different causes and generating revenue, depending on the kind of campaign you’re running. If the site is just packed full with ads, though, it can be a little disconcerting. What’s more, if you overdo it you can actually lose positions on Google. So, before adding adverts, ask yourself what exactly are you trying to promote, the website itself or the companies whose ads you’re displaying? And, how important are Google positions to your site’s success?

Non-Customised Template

Lots of websites make use of templates that have been pre-made (although, we’ll add here that we don’t ever use templates for client web sites!). This can be useful for lots of companies, especially those who perhaps don’t have the budget to have an entire site custom-made. However, templates can often be easily recognised, especially when they haven’t been customised at all. If you want your site to stand out, it needs to be tailored to your business. This is why web design is so important; Internet users these days are savvy and will judge you on your site; if it looks like a template and a site that’s not been properly invested in, your site visitor will probably pick that up and head elsewhere.

Confusing Navigation

Sometimes, you go onto a website and you think ‘wow, this looks good. I want to know more’. As soon as you try to find out more, though, you get stuck. Websites with hard to find or confusing navigation are hugely off-putting to web users, and those visitors won’t hang around to find out more, they’ll just click off to another site. What’s more, Google and Bing will penalise you for visitors that click off your site too quickly. This is one of those issues that sound quite obvious, but it happens quite a lot. Navigation is something that web designers should be thinking about from the very beginning to make sure that the visitor is drawn in and stays on your site.

Odd Colour Palette

If you’re going to have a website, people need to be able to read it. Websites that have a colour scheme with little contrast can sometimes appear to be bland and also hard to read, especially if the text is a similar colour to the background. Alternatively, sites that are full of bright, zingy colours might look exciting, but it doesn’t mean they’re any easier to use. Finding the right colour palette for your market is important, and worth researching; don’t go with a colour set simply because you like it.

Broken or Missing Links

This is arguably more of a content issue than a web design one, but it definitely still counts as a website no-no. Links are great on websites: they can help people find more information and they can be good for your SEO – as long as they work. Links that don’t work or that appear to be there when they actually aren’t don’t sit well with anyone (such as a ‘click here’ instruction that doesn’t give you anywhere to click). Links that take you to the wrong place can also lead to a visitor’s immediate exit from your site.

Lack of Focus

All websites need a focus and this applies to both the web design and the content. Who is your website for? What is your core message? Your website needs to be tailored to the people who are going to be using it, so your aims and message need to be very clear. Good web design can help with this, directing people’s attention to the right place and giving them exactly what they’re looking for. In additional, Google likes well-focussed web sites with lots of unique content; so staying on message with your own uniquely written text will win you business and search engine positions.

Visitor Counters

You’ve probably visited sites that have a site counter somewhere displaying the number of visitors to the site. Circa 1995 this was great – decent statistics packages were in short supply, and finding out how many people visited your site was important. But, these days things have moved on; displaying your visitor numbers openly can actually make your site appeared unused or amateurish. There are free tools out there that will integrate with your site and give you loads more information than a simple counter – Google Analytics being the most well-known.

Buy Me! …But Where and Who From?

E-commerce sites are great and, if done well, can often boost sales. However, if you are going to have an e-commerce site, it needs to be easy to use, easy to buy and most of all appear trustworthy and genuine. If you want people to buy something from your website, the process needs to be as simple as possible. They shouldn’t have to go hunting for the ‘buy now’ button, or else they might end up going elsewhere. Similarly, making sure you’re on top of the site’s security, and that you clearly display contact details for your company and your terms and conditions of business can also instil trust (aside from being required by law in the UK).

Contact Us! … But How?

Ties in with the above, websites need to make it easy for people to get in touch. They need to be able to tell you if they have a question or give you feedback for things they might have bought from you or services they want to find. Making it difficult to contact them or writing at the bottom of the page ‘don’t hesitate to contact us today’ but then failing to provide a ‘contact us’ link can be off-putting. Cover your bases by making getting in touch as easy as possible, in a visible, understandable way.

As an example, we recently took over marketing and design for a client who displayed on their existing site their phone number in the top right of the page along with their email address underneath (we’ll add here we didn’t design the site!). The phone number wasn’t structured in the usual London format 0207 000 0000 but as 02 070 000 000 and the email address font was considerably smaller and exremely close to the phone number making it hard to see. The moment we restructured the phone number and separated and enlarged the email address to make it more visible the phone started ringing and emails enquiries started arriving. This simply points to demonstrate that adding things to a page isn’t enough; thought is needed to make sure that physiologically the site visitor can actually see and recognise them quickly and easily.

By Chelsey Evans

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