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Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design

What contributes to a good design? What are the top 10 common mistakes that many websites are making? Does a good design contribute to good business? Web Design is critical as it is a fundamental component of your Online Marketing strategy. A well planned and appropriately constructed website is essential to achieving high rankings in search engines.

1. Bad URL Names

We are not just talking about visually appealing sites. Of cos the design of your web pages must be able to capture your audiences, but what about structure of the site that helps bring more traffic? When the search engine crawler scans through your web site and work out its relevance, it will pick up web pages with unique filenames like in the case of a page on Web Design, the file naming should be 'web-design.php' and a page on Google AdWords will be 'google-adwords.php' and so on. The next time you create a website and is about to save your file, remember this and name your page accordingly.

2. Page Titles With Low Search Engine Visibility

The Page Title in the HTML <TITLE> tag is usually used as the clickable headline for listings on the Search Engine Result Pages also known as SERP. Search engines typically only show the first 66 characters or so of the title. Using good page titles also help your visitor to find your site again in their bookmark lists. It should clearly defines the content on this page and be relevant to the message on the page to attain better Quality Scores that search engines record for your website.

3. Pop-up Windows or Pop-up Advertisements

It can be really annoying to surf a website that keeps having pop-up advertisements or on every page especially if it is not going to be useful information. Hence most browsers have the option for the user to turn off or block pop-up windows and if you have important message for your visitor, this message might not be seen at all.

4. Opening New Browser Windows

Opening too many browser windows from links in your site can cause your visitor to lose track of where their navigation and close all the tabs quickly. Note that there is such a function to open a link in new browser window determined by the user, so it can get fustrating trying to find the right window for the content that your user is looking for. A link should simply replace the current page onclick. Annoying the user will only result in them not coming back to your website again or leaving immediatly. So next time any designer or developer suggest a pop-up browser, ask them for the reason first.

5. Advertising Banners

Avoid having distracting banners that do not serve any purposes. Unless you are promoting something, try not to have advertising banners that will result in your visitors leaving your website to other sites and lost the goal-driven navigation not matter how attractive your promotions are. Design nice web banner that looks like part of the content but prominent enough to drive the user to attaining your online marketing goals.

6. PDF or Word File Hyperlinks

Some website has pages that are hyperlinked to PDF or Word Doc files and this can result in your visitors avoiding clicking on it and instantly hit the 'BACK' button simply because it normally takes longer to load the PDF in the browser as the system needs to first open the application. Worse still, some browser setting has it such that a user can only view the PDF or Word Doc file upon downloading. Try duplicating the content from the PDF or Word Doc files into HTML format and give your visitor the option to download the PDF file upon request should they want to read or print out. This method prevents your content in those files from being avoided.

7. Consistency of Your Web Pages

It can get confusing when consistencies in a website is lost, resulting in people leaving your website. Consistency can be your navigation format of your website, the look-and-feel of your web pages, the choice of imageries and colors used, the font size of typeface used for headers, the hierachy of how the content is being layout and so on. Try to keep everything consistant on your website so that your user can easily find what they are looking for or and knows what to expect. Everytime they want to go to another page they know where to click, when they see bolder and bigger text or sentence they know it's the heading or something that you want to emphasise etc. Good consistency on your web pages drives better navigation and thus a more pleasing experience for your visitors.

8. Bad Flash Animations

When flash was first launched, everyone wants their website to be designed in Flash. Appealing as Flash animations maybe be, they are not search engine friendly unless the contents are created in XML. Many people are ignorant of this and only see the beautiful surface. Despite most flash graphics are beautiful and nice to look at, most of the Flash that encountered by web users each day is bad Flash that can be annoying. Most splash screens and Flash intros are almost extinct as most do not serve any purpose. Flash should not be used just to jazz up a page, it should only be used should it serve a purpose. If your content is boring, get them re-written to make it more compelling or hire a professional photographer to shoot better photos that means something to your target market. Most people associate animated content as useless contents and a waste of time to wait and view them thus will simply ignore them. Flash navigation is also a bad idea as it sometimes take too long to load the next page compared to static menus. CSS can be employed in this case to create some animation on mouseover. Solution – Convert Flash to HTML pages.

9. Tables... Tables... And More Tables...

Nesting tables within tables is bad design. It not only takes longer to load the page and is not Search Engine friendly, it also gets messy for whoever takes over the maintenance of the page. The latest way to design and layout your web pages is to use CSS aka Cascading Style Sheet. It is easy to control the look and feel and is fast for downloading. Also maintenance is much easier than using <TABLE> as you don't have to go into every single page to change the hard-codings on the table. It's almost like using a template and only make amendments to the template. Say you need to change the font for the entire site, the old method is to go into every single page, every single line of the HTML code and edit them. This is time consumming and it is easy to omit some areas. CSS fixes every page in one go as long as you have defined it in your <DIV> layers. Of cos it is not entirely bad to use tables. They can still be utilised with assigning the "class" or styling to them for easy updates and maintenance.

10. Cross Browser Incompatibilities

Have you ever came across a website that has text all over the place where you have to scroll horizontally to read it? Or what about images that look funny with grey boxes or worse, scripting errors showing and you can't view the site properly? A good website should be viewable on most browsers. The designer or developer should take care to note that the page looks good or as close as possible no matter which browser the user is using. The site should basically be working properly in most major browsers like FireFox and Internet Explorer of minimum version 6. Consideration for the different versions affects readibility of each page for different browsers should be taken in while designing and building the site. Also take note of whether your javascriptings will be compatible in the cross browsers and should the user disable javascript, will the site still be functional and so on.

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