Avoiding Simple Design Mistakes

Avoiding Simple Design Mistakes

Many of the world’s websites suffer from mistakes that can dramatically impact their effectiveness.We’ve compiled a list of the 17 common mistakes with helpful advice on how to avoid them.

Many of the world’s websites suffer from mistakes that can be easily avoided. It is our hope that this list will help you to ensure that your site is not similarly afflicted. Some of these problems merely result in irritation, whilst others will inhibit or prevent visitors to your site from accessing the material or functionality that you have placed there.


No matter how well or how poorly your site is implemented, by far the largest mistake occurs when the website’s role in the overall strategy of your organisation has not been well thought through. Only once the strategic purposes and role of the site are understood can the site be built in a manner that achieves those objectives. For a pilot, this is akin to bringing your plane in for a nice, smooth landing only to find out that you’ve landed at the wrong airport.

Lack of Accessibility :

Accessibility refers to the ease with which a wide spectrum of users can access your site. On one level it can relate to the specialist web browsers that are used by people with a disability – a significant market in their own right. It also refers to the vast array of equipment, operating systems and browsers that are used to surf the web. Some examples to consider include: Visually impaired people surf too: Does the font size on your site increase if a visitor changes the text size from “medium” to “largest” in their browser? Does the page layout of your site fall apart when a visitor changes the text size? Small devices: What does your site look like when accessed from a PDA or mobile phone? How long does your page take to load at GPRS speeds? Other Operating Systems: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer doesn’t run on the Mac or Linux. How does your website design look on Opera, Safari or FireFox? Old Browsers: Believe it or not, there are still plenty of users running browsers that are 4 or 5 years old. A good website designer will take advantage of the formatting and presentation capabilities of the newer browsers, whilst “gracefully degrading” when viewed with an older version. Screen Sizes: There has been an explosion in the variety of screen sizes. Your site needs to be able to display appropriately on different sized screens, and it can’t be assumed that the user will have their entire screen allocated to their browser.

Infrequently Asked Questions :

Have you looked through an FAQ page and been irritated by the irrelevance of the questions? Have you wondered if the questions had ever been asked, let alone frequently? If so then you’re not alone. Many sites no longer have FAQ pages and have instead updated their content to provide that information. However the point here is not so much about how fashionable the FAQ is or isn’t – the point is that all of the content on your site needs to be relevant to the people who are likely to visit the site. Relevant content will give them a good impression and will increase the likelihood that they will take the next step towards becoming a customer.

Can’t find contact information :

We’re constantly amazed by sites that make it difficult to find physical contact information. For small and medium businesses this is critical as your contact information provides a key link to reality, giving customers confidence that they are dealing with a real business rather than a scammer. Contact information should include conventional contact methods such as phone and your business address.

Click Here To Enter Site :

Don’t waste your home page with a “Click here to enter site” link or a gratuitous splash screen. Your website visitor is already here, so reward them immediately with useful, relevant content.

Audio :

Audio should be used sparingly on any website and it should never be played automatically, especially if you are trying to reach users in a corporate setting. The best sites that use audio require the user to click a “play” icon. For sites that need a voiceover, you will dramatically enhance your organisation’s image by having the track professionally recorded.

Too Much Flash :

Flash is great when used sparingly and tastefully. Flash can add excitement and movement to your site, adding capabilities that are difficult or impossible using only HTML. Unfortunately it has two key detractors: not everyone has flash and not everyone has the bandwidth to support flash. If you have decided that it is appropriate to use a sizeable flash component on your site then make sure that the user receives visual feedback while it loads.

Too many meaningless graphics :

The graphics on your site should enhance the user experience. This needs to be kept in balance – enough to ensure that the site is attractive and functional, but not enough to create clutter and slow down the user experience. Site graphics need to be optimised to ensure that the site is displayed at a respectable speed.

Search Engine Unfriendly :

Whilst having a search engine friendly site won’t guarantee you high rankings on your favourite search engine (that’s a discipline called Search Engine Optimisation), there’s no excuse for not having done the basics. These include having a site map, concise and relevant content, use of standard mark-up tags that are recognised by search engines as well as meta tags such as keywords and a description.

Welcome to Our Website

Commence your content with something a little more compelling that “Welcome to our website”. Such an opening appears amateurish and communicates to a visitor that the site is in no hurry to provide them with useful information.

Poor Navigation :

Navigating through your site should be intuitive. This means that the site navigation should be organised and presented in a manner consistent with accepted web navigation conventions. Stick to standard techniques and standard locations for navigation elements such as links and menus. Links should look like links. It should be easy for a visitor to find the “home” and “contact us” links. As well as having navigation elements that are easily recognised, it is important to think through the logical organisation of your site. One useful metric to keep in mind is the average number of clicks required to find a piece of information or to access a page. Another key aspect is how easy/obvious is it for a visitor to find out which link to click on. For example, to find “double sided tape” on your website, should they look under “Art & Craft” or “Office Supplies”?

Poor Colour Schemes :

A poor colour scheme will distract visitors from your message. At worst, the message will become unreadable. It is also important to keep vision impaired users in mind, so if your site features coloured text on a coloured background then it would be wise to offer a high contrast option. This can easily be done using style sheets.

Expecting that people will read your Web Pages :

Very few people read a web page in its entirety. Rather, people scan web pages looking for relevant information, zooming in on the elements that catch their interest. It is therefore important that information be well ordered and easy to locate on the page.

Pop-up Windows :

Unless you have a very good reason, avoid pop-up windows. They are irritating and many browsers block them.

Dead Links :

All of the links on your site should work. Having users visit your site and encounter broken links will look unprofessional, cause frustration and undermine the confidence of visitors in your site and hence your organisation. All links on your site should be properly tested. Links to external sites that are not under your control should be tested on a regular basis, especially if they link deep into the content of that site.

Requiring That Surfers Install Software :

Generally, users will not want to install software to view content on your site. By default, most browsers block websites from installing software. Exceptions to this rule are some extensions/applications that have gained widespread acceptance such as Acrobat and Flash.

Pages that are slow to load :

Web surfers are notoriously impatient and will punish slow sites by leaving them. A good site will load in no more than a few seconds. Reasons for slow loading pages often include such factors as overloading a site with pointless graphics, sub-optimal graphic formats and hosting factors such as using an overseas hosting company or a “backyard” hosting company. If there is a legitimate, unavoidable reason for having a slow site, then provide visual feedback for the visitor while it loads.

Not monitoring your site :

There are numerous tools available for monitoring your site. They can provide valuable insights into the behaviour of users on your site, allowing you to determine where they come from, how they found your site and the kind of content that they are interested in and which links are the most popular. With excellent tools available free of charge, there is no excuse not to monitor who is visiting your site and what they do once they arrive.

Is It Time to Move from Flash to HTML5 ?

Is It Time to Move from Flash to HTML5 ?

For years we’ve been told that the increased proliferation of smartphones would make sites made with Adobe Flash fall by the way side. Since Apple products and most smartphones were either not running Flash or not running it very well, developers looked towards HTML5 for media-rich content (animation, videos) that could run on a mobile device from a browser.

Benefits of HTML5

Now HTML5 is here and we can see the advantages. Because it is natively supported by web browsers, it does not require the user to download any plugins or players to run Rich Internet Applications. It’s open source, not requiring the purchase of Adobe Flash products for website design. It’s said to run 58% faster than Flash on Linux and the Mac OS. It is compatible with touch screens and runs smooth on mobile devices and laptops without causing the device to overheat.


Why Stay with Flash ?

But do these advantages mean HTML5 should replace Flash immediately? Not so, since Flash still has many advantages over HTML5. It offers more advanced multimedia and animation tools to create animations and videos. And even though Flash is incompatible with iOS and has performance issues on Linux and Mac OS, HTML5 is still not supported on 50% of user browsers including all versions of Internet Explorer. Until HTML5 is more widely accepted, there are a few reasons why it might be best to wait before you look for a Flash to HTML5 conversion.

What is Adobe’s take on Flash ?

Observing the current trend, Adobe recently launched the ‘Adobe Edge Animate’, a suite of web development tools to create animations, videos and motions using HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. Adobe Edge combines the canvas tags of HTML5 with the broad functionality of Flash, giving a suite of more robust options for website design.

This left the community skeptical about Flash’s future and whether Adobe was gradually giving up on Flash. However Adobe soon announced that Flash will stay.

In near future, we can expect to see further enhancements in Flash as Adobe plans to add tools for yet more complex multimedia tools for complex animations and motions.

The Verdict

At this stage, HTML5 cannot completely replace Flash. But will it ever? The question may not be as relevant as we’ve been led to think because Flash and HTML5 may not be in such direct competition with each other. Flash has a strong hold on rich graphics and animation while suffering from incompatibility on many mobile devices. On the other hand, HTML5 is lighter and web-friendly, but lacks offline and desktop support. HTML5 offers numerous advantages with web-based video and audio support, but with its limited features it cannot completely replace Flash.

Should You Convert ?

There are indeed some major benefits to converting heavy Flash files to HTML5 on a website. It will increase page loading speed and performance, and it will be mobile-friendly and supported by more web-browsers. Flash to HTML5 conversion is possible through conversion tools such as Adobe Toolkit for CreateJS (formerly known as Wallaby) which can convert basic Flash files to HTML5. The process is more of manual. Google Swiffy can also convert Flash files into HTML5 and has extended support for ActionScript2 (but not yet ActionScript3). Swiffy, on the contrary, offers tools to automate the conversion process.

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