Dec 5, 2012
Guest Writer

Do You Make These 6 Common Web Design Mistakes?

Web browser

Web browser (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to 2011 research by Netcraft, there were about 582,700,000 websites at the end of 2011. And even though only around 175,000,000 were actually active in that year, there’s still a lot of competition out there.

The great thing is that if you can avoid the most common web design mistakes on your site, you’ll stand out from the crowd. So when designing your website, take the time to be sure you’re avoiding these six common, traffic-killing errors on top of the SEO errors webmasters usually focus on:

1. Stuffing pages too full

Web pages that are visually confusing or that don’t leave enough white space around words and graphics turn users off. These pages take too much effort to read, so your visitors will just click somewhere else.

Not sure if your pages are too full? Make an exercise of looking at your web page for just ten seconds. If you can get the main message of that page in ten seconds, you’re good to go. If your eyes just aren’t sure where to settle or you can’t immediately see what the page is about, it’s time for a redesign.

2. Employing too many complex tricks

Using all the bells and whistles available to you as a web designer is one of the marks of an amateur. Sure, you know how to use Flash and fancy coding for moving graphics and rotating headers and whatever else. But just because you know how to use something doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to use in every situation.

Again, using too many elements and design tricks on your site can crowd out the actual message of the page. And it will also make your pages load more slowly, which is deadly in the world of have-it-now websites. Plus, most modern web visitors prefer a minimalistic look, anyway.

3. Not changing the colors of visited links

This is such a simple thing to miss, but it can make a big difference in how well users can navigate your site. When users can automatically see where they’ve already been, they get a better sense of where they are in relation to the rest of your website.

This is an easy fix: just make sure your hyperlinks change color after they’ve been visited.

4. Using a fixed font size

If your CSS style sheet overrides a web browser’s ability to change the font size, fits that. Sure, it might make some of your design options easier if you don’t have to worry about users messing with the font size. But, especially if you attract visitors from the over-40 crowd, it’s vital that visitors be able to read the page in a font size they’re comfortable with.

It may take some work, but be sure that your web pages will look good using different font sizes, and that you aren’t overriding visitors’ abilities to change the font size.

5. Opting for a non-traditional checkout

It might seem “cool” or “fun” to do something outside the box when it comes to your website’s checkout process. But don’t. When it comes to the web, users come to expect certain conventions. And while you can get away with breaking certain design conventions, breaking conventions for the checkout process will just lose you money when visitors can’t figure out how to pay.

When you’re setting up your checkout process, go the conventional route with a standard credit card checkout. To you, it might seem boring. But to your visitors, it will seem comfortable and familiar.

6. Not optimizing for mobile

Despite the astonishing rise of mobile web browsers from Smartphones to tablets, many websites still aren’t optimized for mobile viewing. If your site isn’t mobile optimized, you had better get on this as soon as possible.

The great thing is that your mobile design doesn’t need to be anything fancy to get the trick done. Just make sure users can comfortably access the most relevant parts of your website on their phones and tablets. Ideally, you’ll also want to have a separate mobile layout for phones than for tablets, since the screen dimensions vary significantly.

Competing online is both simple and difficult. There are so many other content sites out there to compete with. But the great part is that a majority of those sites aren’t designed properly, so they turn away visitors faster than they gain them. Just by getting these six design issues right, you’ll already have a leg up on the competition.

Stephanie Phillips from CreditDonkey.com helps online entrepreneurs compare credit card offers for small businesses. Visit her website at http://www.creditdonkey.com/ or follow her at @CreditDonkey.

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