Avoid these (Expensive) Errors!


Christopher Merrill


Top Ten Web Design Mistakes



Designing yourself into a corner. Beware of emphasizing the aesthetic over the practical. While your menu structure or navigation bar may be beautiful, if you've designed it in such a way so that you won't be able to add and remove links easily, you will end up having to redesign that navigation bar every time you want to add a link. Always make room for more.


Not knowing when to stop. Unless you are careful, it can be easy to fall into the trap of adding and adding and adding to the point where the user is bombarded with conflicting information and doesn't know where to look first. Prioritize before you visualize — then assemble the design from there.


Building a difficult-to-navigate navigation structure. Now, where was that again? Links to important information should be displayed prominently on every page, and in the same place on the screen. You can help users navigate your site by placing prominent guideposts that will always let them know where they are. Don't put important links low on the page! You may like how it looks to put links in a "unique place," but if users have to scroll in order to get to that all-important link, they may never find it, and the most important function of your website — getting your information out to your users — may be lost.


Failing to promote your website after it is has been launched. If you build it, they will come? No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Posting a website doesn't automatically mean that people will visit your site. Yes, search engine optimization is important, but it's also important to actively and consistently promote your website outside of the internet as well.


Posting your contact information in a place that is difficult for your users to find. Your e-mail address and phone numbers (if you choose to post them) should be displayed prominently on every page of your website, if you want your users to contact you.


Posting a maze of links that all look alike. Users can go numb seeing long lists of links that all start to look the same. Try to limit links lists to 7-9 links, so that users won't be daunted by too many choices.


Mistaking a computer monitor for a television set. While television shows look essentially the same within the frame of the TV set, every computer monitor is different. Novice web designers often make the mistake of trying to frame their site on the screen — but there is no such thing as a static frame for websites! Your site will display in a different manner on each computer screen, depending on the screen resolution your users have set up on their systems.


Using too many colors (or not enough). Oh, let's add another color. Fledgling web designers are often tempted to bring in another color so as to draw attention to this and to that on the screen — the results can often look amateurish, and not very well thought out.


Allowing your website to become out of date. Urban legend has it that the average life span of a website is 44 days. The world is full of people who open a site and then do nothing more with it. Launching a website is only the beginning. If you are not prepared to keep your website up to date, then maybe opening a website is not for you. (Also, remember that search engines give precedence to sites that are constantly updated.)




Failing to design a website that promotes the product or services represented by the website. But enough about me — what do you think about me? Unless you are a movie star, people are not likely to come to your website to hear all about you. Users respond to website's that provide them with useful information that they can take away into their daily life. Tailor your website content to benefit your users, and they will be more likely to come back for more.