If you are considering designing your own website and you've never done it before, there are a lot of things that you need to consider when it comes to web design. There are far too many things that you can do to a website that will only frustrate your visitors and make them never want to return, and it's nothing that you intended to happen. However, most of the common mistakes made are things that are very easy to fix or to prevent in the first place.
It is important that all of your pages on your site contain good content and offer something valuable to your visitors. Even though this is not actually part of web design itself, it is probably even more important than the actual design of your website. Sure you may want to make your site look pretty and attractive but if you have nothing interesting or valuable to offer your visitors beauty will fall by the wayside. And if you are trying to make money from advertising on the site make sure that you don't go over 25% ads and 75% content. You website has to have more than ads to be any kind of success. After all who would watch TV if there was nothing but ads and no programming?
Avoid loading your web design with sleazy items. Avoid distracting your visitors with a bunch of scrolling text, animated GIFs and sounds that auto load. A bunch of animation and sounds can be very distracting. No one finds it very easy to concentrate on trying to read what your site has to offer if there are all kinds of sounds and things flying all over the place. It would be like trying to read a book or newspaper all the while someone is poking you on shoulder or back continually. Plus not everyone has fast connections and they often resent websites that make it even slower for them to pull up a website.
If your web design includes a bunch of blinking ads or pop ups they will more than likely leave your website right away and not even consider clicking on anything to further explore your website. They won't bookmark it or tell others about it either.
Scrolling text is annoying for a variety of reasons but the biggest reason is that the visitor cannot read the text at their own personal pace. It forces them to read it at whatever pace you have the speed set at. This can cause them to just move on, even if they may have wanted to actually read it.
Always remember to design the site for your visitors not for yourself.
Not a single person likes pop up windows. The only reason why websites contain them is because the owner is thinking of their own personal interests and not that of the visitors. As the owner of the site you need to put yourself in the visitors shoes. So consider this when considering a pop up window. If it were you, which of the two reactions would you have if you went to a site that had pop ups?
1.) “Oooh a pop up window, oh boy! I really love websites with pop up windows! I am going to make sure I bookmark this site and come back often. I'm going to click on all the ads and links too cause I love pop ups so much.”
2.) “@#&$! Whoever did this site sure has no respect for me as their visitor! I'm out of here and don't plan to ever come back!”
So, which would be your reaction?
Never put text over any image backgrounds. The first thing this does is say “Hey! I'm an amateur!” Why? Because it is only amateurish websites that use this technique. Not only does this scream low quality but it also is a hint that the website is going to be user hostile in other ways as well. Often the ones with text over image backgrounds will also have very slow page load times and internal links that will pop up into new windows, links that are the same color as all the other text and a lot of cheap looking animated GIFs, tons of keyword stuffing and often a lot of misspelled words as well. These sites are often nearly impossible to navigate as well.
Make it easy to find things on your website and put a lot of thought into your organization. Think about your content and how it should be organized on your website. This is just as important as what your pages look like. Make sure that there is minimal clicking for the visitors. The fewer clicks there are for your visitors to get to the information you are offering is best. The more you force them to click around on the site the more likely they are going to leave your site.
If your homepage is what is called a splash page or a page that contains no useful information on it and just welcomes visitors, you need to get rid of it. Don't make your visitors have to knock on more than one door to get to your site. If your page doesn't have at least 400 words on it combine it with another short page. Also try to minimize scrolling as well.
You want to also make sure that each page on your website gives your visitors a way back to your homepage. Often if a visitor gets lost on a site they want an easy way to get back to the beginning in order to start over again. So always make sure all of your pages include some sort of text and link that either says “Home” or have a logo that takes them back. However, the word “Home” is probably the best because many visitors don't realize that logos will take them back.
Try to have several navigation menus on each page. Don't just put them on the bottom. It is advisable to put them on the top as well as on the left of all your pages. Try to avoid using frames in your web design as well. Even though it can be tempting to do so because it is easier to have the same header or menus all through the site. Studies show that users may consider frames easy to navigate there are downsides to them. The address bar won't change from page to page, so there is no easy way to bookmark or share a link with others and second when a page on your site in a frame set shows up on search engines visitors who click over to the page is only going to see the sub page and no surrounding frame.
Don't bog your website down with huge files, make sure all of your graphics are compressed into smaller files and don't use a lot of flashy multimedia that can actually ruin your entire site. Most people today try to avoid sites that are Java controlled and have a lot of Flash.
Make your text readable. There is a reason why newspapers print in columns. It is because the lines are shorter and easier for people to read. So, make sure that your text doesn't go past 650 pixels wide. Also make sure that your pages aren't too wide or too narrow. As of 2011, studies have shown that 99% of users now have screens that are at least 1024 x 768 pixels. You can get away with as small as 770 pixels wide and still please most users. So you should try to limit the page content to 1200 pixels or less.
Make sure the color combinations for text and background work and that the text on the page is large enough to read. Try to go with Verdana that is 11 or 12px or Arial that is 12 or 13px. On the average this is the most comfortable for most visitors. Never use more than one ! Either and avoid putting a lot of words in caps, a couple here and there is fine but not entire sentences or paragraphs. It's like you are screaming at people. Also never underline a word if it is not a link. When a word is underlined on most sites it generally means it's a link to someplace else and when you do use links make them blue or underlined or both because blue is probably used in 99% of all websites. And always make sure you explain what the link is.