The Biggest Mistakes in Web Design

There are many factors to keep in mind when designing a website. Sometimes in the vast scope of Web projects, however, some simple design mistakes inadvertently occur and may have a detrimental effect on website success. There are so many preventable errors that occur when creating new websites that listing them all would be impractical, but here are the design flaws seen over and over again on the Web.

Perhaps the single biggest mistake is designing around what is important to your company, and not what's important to your visitor. Too many websites have an air of self-righteousness, believing that readers want to read about 'company goals' and 'organizational ethos', but they couldn't be more wrong. There are three basic needs that readers may be looking to satisfy when they arrive on a site: to be entertained, to be informed about a solution to a problem they have or to be engaged in a communal activity, such as sharing thoughts with other individuals with the same issue. In short, website visitors need problem resolution. Companies need to address the needs visitors had before arriving at the website.

There are numerous other common mistakes in Web design that must be addressed. How many of these is your company website guilty of?

Forcing Registration

Viewing a website is called "browsing" for a reason. When you enter a clothing store you wouldn't expect to surrender your credit card details at the door before you've had a chance to look around. The Internet functions on the same principle. Unless it's absolutely necessary for the functionality of your site (or you purposefully want to screen out most of your site's visitors), do not force visitors to submit their e-mail addresses or personal information early in the visit. Most people simply will not share this information until a site has proven that it contains valuable information.

Not Communicating Purpose

Company websites needs to explain their purpose, and fast. If viewers have to rack their brains to figure out what is being offered, the game is over. Make sure that your company name, slogan and introduction make its purpose immediately clear. Frequent offenders of this are often non-profit organizations with nice sounding names and slogans that say little about their purpose. A slogan such as 'leading the way' may be true, but leading the way in what? Don't be afraid to say exactly what it is that you do or are offering your reader. If your company helps fight poverty in the third world then say so. 'Leading the way in fighting poverty in the third world' is much clearer than just 'leading the way'.

Burying Important Features

Sometimes, in the effort to keep a website 'clean', an important feature might end up hidden, forcing the user to search for it (assuming they are even aware of it). Well-designed websites should consider making use of tip balloons that highlight key features and walk users through them, so users don't get lost in the middle of a process. Since it can be complicated to develop complex, multi-step tool tips on your own, look for solutions that can help you create these features.

Unreadable Text

There is no point having a compelling slogan or clever idea if your visitors cannot read it (e.g. dark green text on a black background, or impossibly small font that require microscopes to read). The key here is simplicity. Make sure your text is in a readable font and in a size that most human beings can read unaided - read