Not every design idea is a good one. The scores of horrible sites on the web are testament to that. How can you ensure yours isn’t among them?
Look, I get it. Web design is hard sometimes. After all, you’ve gotta put together a website that’s not only visually appealing, but also easy to navigate, interesting to browse, and unique to your brand.
Small wonder that some people just say ‘sod it’ and just decide to go with whatever first comes to mind (even if what comes to mind is absolutely terrible).
There’s no shortage of terrible websites online – though it’s worth noting that some poor design choices crop up more frequently than others. Today, we’re going to speak about some of the most common. And then we’re going to drive home why each one is terrible, and what you should do instead.
The thing about modern web design is that it’s not really a ‘one and done’ thing. It’s an ongoing process in which a site changes and adapts based on your needs. That’s why I can’t help but cringe whenever I see a site whose owner insists on informing everyone that their site is ‘under construction.’ Bonus points if that site is a portfolio of some kind, with no projects present.
What you should do instead: Don’t put a page online until it’s actually ready to be there.
Anything Involving Flash
Flash is effectively a dead piece of software (at least it should be). Once ubiquitous, Flash grows more obsolete with each passing day. It’s a closed, proprietary piece of software on a largely open web. It’s chock-full of horrendous vulnerabilities. And at least on mobile, it has the potential to slow things down to a crawl (if it allows pages to load in the first place).
Factor in that most designers who incorporate on-page flash use it for stuff like overly-obnoxious animations or sounds, and Flash itself becomes a poor design choice.
Clutter, Clutter Everywhere
I want you to do something for me. Take a look at this website. The fact that it’s in a foreign language aside, do you have even the faintest idea what it is, or what it’s supposed to be about? No?
Neither do I.
While Arngren.net is a somewhat nightmarish example of the effect too much clutter can have on one’s browsing experience, it’s the perfect means to drive home one of the most important tenets of web design: the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
What you should do instead: Remember, where websites are concerned, less is often more. Streamline things as much as you can – because unnecessary clutter is often nothing more than a distraction from your brand.
This one’s noteworthy for the fact that some of the largest news and entertainment sites on the web engage in it. I’m talking about slideshow posts – the practice of splitting a single article or blog post into multiple pages. Generally speaking, it’s little more than a means of artificially increasing traffic and ad exposure, and at its worst, it forces users to sit through the loading process each time they click ‘next.’
At the end of the day, this does little to improve the browsing experience – all it really serves to do is interrupt the user.
What you should do instead: Subheadings exist. Remember to use them.
Stop me if this experience feels familiar to you: you’re minding your own business reading an article online, and suddenly, from out of nowhere, you’ve music blasting through your speakers, and some schlub bellowing about their newest story/product/idea. If you’re anything like most people, your reaction will range from mild annoyance to a decision to navigate away from the site and never come back.
People don’t like their browsing to be interrupted by anything, least of all obnoxiously loud media that has nothing to do with what they’re currently browsing through.
What you should do instead: Nothing.
Last but certainly not least, your color scheme. While you definitely shouldn’t ignore it altogether and settle for a boring blend of browns and grays, it’s also important that you avoid hurling every color that seems pretty onto a page. Because if you do that, you’re likely to wind up with something like this.
What you should do instead: Study colour theory. Seriously. Do it.
So, there you are. Some of the most common, irritating, and downright foolish mistakes in web design. Take a look at your site, and make sure you’ve avoided all of them. And in the meantime, browse over to the world’s worst website. How many bad choices can you spot?