Just because your website “looks nice,” doesn’t mean that the website will build traffic. Choosing creativity over usability is a disastrous mistake. Effective websites have global design similarities. Most people that search the web are on a mission. 2,802,478,934 people visited the Internet in 2013. Asia had the most users, at 1,265,143,702. Similarities help webpages be legible, including font, navigation, interface, layout, media, resolution and more. These design habits cannot be taught in school and change annually but six bad design habits can break your site.
6 Common Design Mistakes to Avoid
Confusing Site Navigation
Users should be able to find their way around your site easily. The best site navigation is intuitive and consistent; therefore, users should be able to find what they need within three clicks. The best places to put site navigation are the top menu, footer and side bar.
If you are familiar with SEO, I am sure that you are aware of internal links. Your site navigation improves when users have multiple gateways from which to access pages. Links should be a different color than the text, with various anchor text.
Different link colors and fonts can make your links confusing. Stick to one color and one font!
Your text should be easy to read. In 2013, the best fonts for websites were Concorde, Open Sans and Proxima Nova. You should use no more than two fonts because the contrast can obstruct the flow of the content. Using italics and bold already makes four.
Your font is not a circus act! Fancy fonts can be fun but leave flamboyancy for day-care posters. Papyrus is a font to avoid. Content is created to make a point. Your content is more powerful when easy to read.
Media can be powerful but should be an option. A website’s primary goal is to get users the information that they need. Flash media can stall the visitor from receiving the content. If you must introduce your website with a video, give users the option of skipping the media. Auto-play media can annoy your audience and increase your bounce rate.
You may be the most creative video developer in your state, but auto-play media has the same effect, universally. Leave auto-play media for a personal blog.
Unorganized Content Layout
Distracting websites are not functional. Your content should be divided wisely into categories where readers will not have to seek information. If a photo that you love does not make sense on the homepage, leave it out! Poorly placed photos, written content or ads will distract the reader.
Don’t make readers think too hard!
Inconsistent Design Interface
A solid template uses consistent design. Each page should be formatted with the same sidebars, menu and content layout. A standard format keeps the design aesthetically simple; therefore, the site remains relatable and readers can find what they are looking for immediately.
Inconsistent designs can be confusing, especially with internal links. If you have a great idea for another layout, build another site. Websites are often the first impression to a company and should appear uniform between departments.
Weak Screen Resolution
Mobile devices are quickly becoming the main way for people to access the Internet. Responsive software optimizes smartphones and tablets for vertical, compact scrolling, whereas a non-responsive website requires horizontal scrolling that is a challenge to maneuver.
There are now templates with responsive designs programmed in. Your content is automatically formatted into the proper screen size.
Web development is not slowing down! Your website should work in unison with the growing Internet to remain legible. To increase visitors, it’s more important that your site be fully functional than gorgeous.