When designing a website, there are many things that you need to take into account. From connection speed to the device they're accessing it from, there are many factors that you need to determine before implementing anything on your website. Here are a few things that you need to avoid when designing your website.
Don't use Flash
Flash is actually pretty cool, but there's a problem: not every device supports it. If the person is accessing your site from a desktop, it's fine, but what about those mobile users? Apple doesn't support Flash at all, so anyone using an iPad or an iPhone is left out in the cold. Android users could possibly run it, but not well. You really have two options here. You can avoid using flash altogether, which most web designers are doing. If you absolutely must use flash, then you need to design a second version of your website dedicated to mobile users.
Avoid Adding Audio and Video
Adding audio and video can really add layers to your site. Unfortunately, it'll alienate your users. Let's be honest: How many times have you had multiple windows open on your computer and had audio start playing? Your first reaction is to quickly check all of the windows to find the source and make it stop. It's extremely annoying. The last thing you want to do is annoy your website visitors. Avoid using embedded audio altogether.
The same goes with video. Mobile platforms are getting better about displaying embedded video, but it's still not perfect. Not only that, but it'll make your site take a longer time to load. When mobile users are paying for the data they use, the last thing you want to do is force them to pay for data they didn't even want. Avoid using embedded video and link to the source instead.
For instance, take a look at DirectTV’s Direct Ticket site. It's the perfect example of a site with every user in mind. It's mostly text based so it'll load quickly, and there's no audio, video, or flash, so the site offers the information that the user is looking for with nothing that they didn't ask for. If someone's happy with your site, they're going to visit it over and over.
Don't Play With the Fonts
There's a lot of fonts, and some look really awesome. There's a lot of fonts that make it appear like you're writing text in an old cursive script, which makes everything look really cool. However, again, it's going to create issues for certain users. With more and more educators removing the need to teach cursive writing, some people may not be able to read it. Mobile users will have a particularly difficult time as they'll likely have to zoom in to read it. Your goal is to make everything as clear as possible with the user not having to take any additional steps to view your content.
Stop Hiding Content Behind a Wall
A new tactic that many designers are employing is hiding their content behind some sort of wall. That wall could be a mailing list, a forced login through a social media site, or forcing someone to “like” their content to view it. This should be avoided at all costs. You will lose the user if you hide your content behind a wall. Instead, encourage them to sign up for a mailing list, or give them the option to follow you on social media pages — but don't force them.
Avoid Full Screen Ads
This is also another growing trend across websites across the web. Some sites, such as IMDB, get revenue from ads. On some days, usually the days before and after a major movie launches, IMDB will roll out an ad that takes up the majority of the webpage, leaving users scrambling to find the “X” button in the top right hand corner. Even worse, some of these ads will force video and audio content on the user. Having a website that's supported by ads is almost expected these days, but keep the ads either at the bottom of the page or along the side of your content. Never hide your content behind ads.
Don't Make Navigation Complex
With so many plugins these days, it's tempting to add everything you can think of to a site. Don't get carried away. You want your site to be as streamlined as possible, and you don't want to bombard the user with options. If you do, they're likely to go to another site that doesn't force them to learn how to navigate it. As stated above, the ultimate goal is to have content that's easily accessible with little to no complications. Not only does a huge navigation menu look clunky, it can frustrate mobile users as they struggle to tap on the correct link.
Don't Use Pop-Up Windows
This has been a problem for nearly two decades. Once web designers discovered that they could create a new window for the user, they decided to run with it. It quickly became abused, with sites often spawning multiple pop-up windows, and even worse, additional pop-up windows once another is closed. If you want to use pop-up windows, ask the user if they want to display the content in a new window or stay on the same window. You want to make a site that's convenient for the user, not one that causes them to get frustrated.
Be Mindful of the Colors
Like with most things, text looks best on a white background. If you want to display your content on a different color, use a light background with dark text. Some combinations of background color and text can cause the user to have a headache or make the content unreadable. If it's possible, stick with the default choice — black text on a white background. It's the most commonly used choice for a reason. There are several other options available, though.
When designing your own website, there are a lot of things to consider. These are the biggest issues that web designers face. Can you think of any other design mistakes that a web designer should avoid? Leave a comment below.