Easy navigation and usability are one of the most important aspects of creating a "user friendly" website. However, there are still a "plethora" of web-sites out there that are, to be politically correct, "functionally challenged." Does your website keep people captivated, or does it send them fleeing as soon as they get to the first page? Do you offend your visitors by employing these ten web design faux pau's?
1) Music, or any voice recording that automatically plays
when you enter a site, without giving me the option of turning
it off. Yes, there are still website owners who think that putting their Midi version of "Play That Funky Music Whiteboy," will some how impress their visitors. Always give people the option of listening to any recorded information you have on your website. Don't automatically assume that your visitors will be captivated by your voice, or your music.
2) Spinning or animated GIF's of any type. Floating cursors
that follow me around while I am visiting your site. If you want to distract me from viewing your information, then incorporate this "flotation device" into your design repertoire! It is like having a security guard follow me around in a retail store to make sure that I'm not stealing!
Oversize font that takes up the whole landing page, and web pages
that do not fit in my viewing screen. If you are not sure how your website looks on other browsers, then use this free tool called Browsersizer..
It helps web developers check to see how their web pages look on different screen resolutions. Slow loading web pages. Compress, or eliminate large lumbering graphics. Your landing page should load in 10 seconds or less. Here is a website that will analyze your load times:
Web-sites that are "Under Construction." Don't promote what you don't have. It is almost guaranteed that once I see that logo on your site, I will not visit again to see if your construction is finished. Web-sites that don't not allow me to use the "back button." Eliminating my ability to move out of, or through your website, has me looking for the X button. If you want people to visit much, and often, then make your site with the dynamic content that will persuade people to add your site to their favorites file.
3) Any website that looks like it resembles Times Square in New
York City. Multitudes of "flashing" or "blinking" banner ads shoved in my face as soon as I reach your landing page will send me running. Flashing banner ads are the equivalent of a carnival barker trying to lure people into his sideshow! You don't need to shout to people to get you message heard on the Internet. Keep you banner ad's limited, and your content abundant!
4) Website owners that make it too hard to navigate their site.
If I have to jump through "link hoops" to get to your
information I am outta there. Make your product, price, or
service, clear, precise, and easy to find. The "about us,"
or "frequently asked questions" section of some web-sites,
leaves me with more questions than answers. Design your content so that even elementary school children can understand the purpose of your website.
5) Pop-Ups..Pop-Ups...Pop-Ups..I don't mind one, or even
a few. But, if I have to close multiple pop-ups to get to your
website, I will flee the scene. I have encountered some sites that had so many pop-ups they froze my computer screen, even with blocking software. The same applies for any of those "fly-in" or "hover ads" that bounce across my computer screen. If you have to use anything, incorporate a pop-up that loads when a visitor leaves, not before, or during my visit to your site.
6) A page full of dead links and constant "Page Not Found"
error messages. Keep your links up to date and take down the
links that are no longer active.
7) Cursing or using worn out phrases like "Kick Butt," or "Kick
Ass." (Example: "Kick Ass Copy-Writing Service," "Kick Butt
Web Marketing"). I can't exit fast enough when I see anyone
using that phrase in website advertising copy. It maybe an
excellent marketing headline, but for me, it is a total
turn-off. Impress your visitors with intelligent, informative,
advertising copy and content.
8) AND SOMEONE-ANYONE-PLEASE! Stop the "ultra" dark background accented with an equally dark font! I have discovered many a website in which the background, and the text fonts are
indistinguishable from each other! It looks like your are staring
into a black hole! Lighten things up a bit, and don't make me
turn the brightness controls on my monitor to full! And no, I
don't want to highlight the text so I can read the information
on your website!
9) While I love Marcomedia's Flash, I think it should be used sparingly. Unless you have a film site, or a product that
requires a detailed visual description, just forget about using
flash for e-commerce. There is a majority of people out
there who still use those pokey dial-up modems (me being
one of them) and I "hate the wait!"
Even when I use the skip feature it still takes to long for the
page to load. While doing research for The Ultimate Guide
To Products For Resale: http://www.productsforresale.com I noticed that some designer clothing wholesalers where using
flash to sell their product. The same applied to retail sellers of designer shoes, designer handbags, and designer clothing.
My question is why? If you are using your site to sell a product, just stick with high quality, fast loading photos, followed up with good creative descriptions of each item. If you have to make people wait to buy your product, people will buy your product somewhere else! If you absolutely, positively, must use Flash, then make your files as fast loading as possible, especially if you are selling a product.
10) Solid blocks of text with no breaks between paragraphs.
The only industry that gets away with that format is newspaper,
book, and magazine publishers. The Internet is a different world
altogether. People not only want their information quick, but they also want to read it in smaller, "bit size" portions of content.
I like to skim over articles for the main points. If I have to
"slog" through content that looks like a rambling diatribe with
no paragraph breaks, I'm gone! Make your content clear and concise. Break up your paragraphs, and use plenty of "white
space" when possible.
So there they are. My "Top Ten" pet peeves of dysfunctional
design! Do any of them apply to you? Remember, you only
get one chance to make a good impression. There literally
billions of web sites out there, and you need to capture your
visitors attention within seconds. Make your site neat and
ready to greet! For more information about how to make your
site user friendly, go to Jakob Nielsen's Usability
Site: http://www.useit.com/ site for tips on better website design.
Robert C. Potter is a wholesale and retail surplus products specialist. He is the author of "The Ultimate Guide To Products For Resale!" Over 300 Wholesale & Surplus Supply Sources For Ebay Auction Sellers, E-Commerce Websites, Flea Market Vendors, and Retail Store Owners! You can find his 160 page ebook at: http://www.productsforresale.com.