Being a website designer can be tough. Your work is out there on display for anyone and everyone to critique
(and believe me, they do). While you shouldn’t take everyone’s opinions to heart, there is one group
whose voice should always be heard — your site visitors.
Naturally, a Web design needs to look good, but it
also needs to be user-friendly. Many Web designers
will find a brand’s message lost in translation if they
forget who the website is really for.
The biggest Web design blunders occur when
a designer puts creativity before function. A welldesigned
site may attract a few visitors initially, but
those users won’t return if the site isn’t easy to use
and consume. Design too many of these low-traffic
sites and the digital business will tank (and
probably your reputation too). So what are the
most common usability mistakes to avoid?
Just Plain Hard to Read
Legibility is an integral part of good Web
design. A site may have knockout visual
elements, but that doesn’t guarantee repeat
visits. Sure, content is king, but if that
content is impossible to read, users will leave as
fast as they came. To improve digital legibility, consider
• Use sans serif fonts for body copy. If you
absolutely must use serif fonts, save them for
something special, like headings.
• Stay away from hard-to-read color schemes.
Visitors always prefer black text on a
• Don’t use more than three font sizes. Any
more than this makes a site distracting and
difficult to read.
• Avoid bolding, italicizing and underlining
• Break up copy with smaller paragraphs,
which are less daunting for Web readers.
Overly Cumbersome Forms
Registration forms can be a pain. It is necessary to
obtain certain information from your visitors, but
you don’t want to turn those users away because the
form is too complicated. If there is one important bit of guidance for website owners who must
have a registration form, it’s this: be brief. You
wouldn’t want to waste time filling out a
form that requires a million answers, so why
make your visitors? If you’re not sure where
to start, begin by comparing your websites’
form with those in your vertical that also require
registration. Find out what details
they’ve made mandatory, and how much you
feel is too much. Then, consider what your
website needs and start designing.
Poor Information Accessibility
Missing search boxes and a downright messy
structure (e.g. site architecture) can cause information
(and conversion paths) to be all
but inaccessible to users.
For example, over time, your site will
amass an impressive archive of information.
As you accumulate that store of content,
think about how a user would navigate
through it. Would a search box make it easier
for website visitors to find what they
need? Solutions like Google Custom Search,
and its numerous alternatives, are effortless
to implement (after a bit of copy and paste
on your part) and provide an efficient means
by which visitors can search for and locate
the information they want.
Good Web design isn’t easy. It requires a
commitment to testing to discover what
works. Find the balance between too much
and not enough, and the critiques you receive
in the future are sure to be positive.
About the Author
Jarrod Wright is a website designer
and owner of Subtle Network Design & Marketing. The company offers
search engine marketing and creative design services to a wide variety of
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