Designing a website can be a minefield. It is easy to make mistakes that will ultimately lead to failure in achieving the site’s desired purpose. Here are some dos and don’ts that will help to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.
Do provide relevant, compelling Content
Although this is not actually a design element, content is even more important than the design of a site, which is why this tip has to be included here. There is no point in having a gorgeous looking website if it is meaningless and has nothing of value to offer. Essentially, content must be rich in information, making it worth a visit. If advertising is part of the ways to make a profit on the site, it should not take up more than 25 per cent of the content. Any more than this and the site will be like a TV channel with nothing but adverts – visitors will switch it off.
Don’t use sleazy Elements
Scrolling and/ or blinking text, animations and auto-loaded sound will not only slow the loading of a website significantly, they can also be intensely annoying and distracting to visitors. The same goes for pop-ups. Background images also tend to make a website look garish, as well as slowing load times. Visitors want the information they are looking for, not gimmicks.
Do make things easy to Find
It is of utmost importance to ensure that visitors can find what they are looking for with ease. This means the website needs to be well organized, as well as using the minimum of necessary clicks possible. Having to click on multiple links to get to the info they are seeking is enough to put visitors off, as is having to scroll down reams and reams of text. Each page should contain no more than two screens of information, or up to six or a maximum of seven screens for long articles. Links to the top of pages and a home page link should also be included on all pages.
Don’t bog down the Website
Images need to be sized down to ensure they will not take excessively long to load into the visitor’s browser. There is a wealth of graphics software out there to do this efficiently, without compromising the quality of images. As mentioned above, avoiding auto sounds and animations will also greatly improve load times. The main point to remember is that visitors do not like to wait for ages, just to see some flashy image rushing across their screen.
Do consider Readability
To keep a website readable and improve the visitor’s experience, text lines should be no more than 650 pixels in width. Anything wider than that will make it hard to read, as will fonts that are too small or too fancy. Placing the text onto a textured background may also make it hard to read. Ideally, text should always be placed onto a plain background, with the font being in a color that is contrasting enough to be seen clearly.
Finally, it is wise to be sparing and considerate with links. Too many of them will confuse the visitor, and links to questionable sites will damage reputation. All necessary links should be explained, so visitors will know where they are heading when clicking on them. Again, home links should be provided so visitors can get back to where they started easily.