How NOT To Design A Website

Web design don’ts

Some web design ideas we get rolling around in our heads are just not that great for user experience. Here is a list of some design don’ts, so you can make sure you avoid them. And if you already did some of these? Well, not the end of the world … but read on if you want your next website project to be user friendly.

Auto Play Audio

This is a pet peeve for me, and honestly for everyone I know who works in the tech industry. You go to check on a website, and you immediately get blasted with sound. It’s jarring; even if it’s quiet, pleasant music. Even if it’s your favorite song. It’s worse if it’s the sound of someone talking, which is reminiscent of annoying browser ads.

Choice Matters

Your visitors want to have the choice to click play or not to click play. They may find it annoying, or they may be in a public setting where they don’t want everyone around them to know exactly what they’re viewing online. I can tell you that most of the people I know will immediately close a website if they get unpleasantly surprised with audio. So, if you don’t want visitors to bounce, if you would rather they stuck around and browsed a while (and maybe subscribe to something?), then you should definitely not set your audio to auto play.

Audio is not a Dirty Word

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include audio. Audio provides great enrichment to your site content, as applicable to your website’s purpose. If you’re a musician, you will want site visitors to be able to sample your music. Or, if you have video content you will want people to be able to hear the speaker etc. Just make sure that listening is a choice the visitor gets to make for themselves.

GIFs And Flash Everywhere!

I have seen some websites that are just completely inundated with flashing lights, scrolling banners, moving images, and spinning objects. It’s a complete sensory overload. Brings to mind the old adage: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Don’t Distract from the Website’s Primary Focus

While clean, minimal websites are the order of the day in modern web design, I like to keep things interesting as much as the next person. Moving parts to hold your visitor’s attention are very user-friendly … but generally, they need to be interactive parts if they’re moving. It’s best to use these sparingly, though. You don’t want to distract from the main purpose of the website; whether that is to obtain subscriptions to your blog or email marketing campaigns, to sell products, or to inform. You also don’t want the various elements of your site to be competing with each other for attention. Each individual piece shouldn’t be jumping up and shouting, “Look at me!!!” (sometimes literally).

Overcrowding And Overuse Of Color

A website doesn’t necessarily need to be breathtakingly beautiful, but it does need to be easy to read and easy to look at. Don’t make your visitors run screaming from text and images bunched together or discordant color blocks. You know how to navigate and read your own content, so it can be difficult to see it from the perspective of a new visitor. Have someone else check your website for you to see how easily they can use it.

Websites From The 90s

Retro is cool, as always, but it needs to look intentional. Don’t design your website with the same boxy layouts you were used to when you first started using the internet regularly. People may think it’s an old, abandoned website that’s no longer in business. Or, they might think your product/service/information is obsolete. We all want the new hotness, so when we see a website that looks outdated, we look for something newer and better.

Antique is not Good in the Tech World

An old car might still get you from A to B, but the same can’t be said for a website. If your site looks old, it’s probably not going to convert. This is also a good reason to re-design or tweak every few years to keep up with new design techniques. At Design Rainbow, we’re updating constantly just to try out different looks. You don’t need to be quite that proactive, though. It’s definitely good to keep a consistent look if you need people to know they’re in the right place every time they visit. Just make sure that new visitors aren’t asking themselves whether or not they might have ripped a hole in the fabric of time & space.

Not Mobile Friendly

This should be a no-brainer. You might design your website on a desktop computer or laptop, but it needs to look good on mobile devices. That means the content needs to be able to squeeze onto a smaller screen without being too small to read or too difficult to look at. Navigation is one of the biggest problems with this as websites tend to have links that are too wide to properly display on a mobile device, which means the navigation menu usually needs to convert to a completely different layout for mobile devices.

Design with Mobile in Mind

Even if you don’t code, most site builders and wordpress themes have specific settings for mobile devices and often let you preview those settings. Be sure to use these tools while designing. Don’t go back and do it after you’re all done – you’ll end up having to completely redesign your website.

It may be disheartening that everyone is a technology zombie with face glued to cell phone these days, but remember: those are your customers! (And sometimes those are ourselves.)

One Website To Break Them All

Want to see a site that breaks all the rules? Check this one out:

The strange thing is, they actually do pretty well for themselves with this website. I think at this point, it’s become what they’re known for and actually attracts new visitors. So, you could roll the dice like this lady and see if it works out for you the same way. Or, you can stick with the tried & tested design rules. Either way, don’t be afraid to be a trend setter! Just as long as that trend is user friendly.

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