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What to avoid to make your website design effective

By Veselin Andreev

The most effective design is the one that is the simplest possible and that meets your users’ needs, because the needs and expectations of the visitors to your website are your main concern.

It is the one that announces, simply and clearly, what your website is about. It is the one that quickly offers users exactly what they are expecting to see on your pages, without troubling them with insignificant information.

The biggest mistake of lots of web designers is to design according to their own point of view, without considering what the users want and need.

Factors damaging website design effectiveness

• Long download times
• Badly written content
• Complex design with too many elements
• Difficult navigation, incomprehensible for the user
• Poorly written, unvalidated code that generates errors

Long download times

Your pages’ download time is extremely important. Your users will simply leave your website without viewing it, if you exhaust their patience waiting for your pages to download, and users are known to have low thresholds when waiting to view web pages. Remember, the other sites are only a mouse click away from them.

The download time is important no matter what type of element is under consideration: graphics, multimedia, scripts, or applets that are necessary for you to project your site’s message effectively; and to this end, you need to be cautious about where on your site you place such elements.

Don't put them in without thinking about the best place for them, and don’t include them just because you or your designer had an idea about it. Design them small-sized, as well.

Badly written content

Text prepared for print has nothing to do with text for the Web. According to Jacob Nielsen, the Web usability guru, users have more difficulties in reading the information on computers than in printed editions. They scan it, rather than read it carefully. Huge text blocks cannot be scanned and will not fit on a computer screen, and hence are unreadable by your users.

The following means can be used to make text more readable and effective:

• separate paragraphs
• titles
• subtitles
• indentations
• bullets
• bold type
• hyperlinks
• different fonts and sizes

Complex design with too many elements

Don't complicate users’ work by complex design with many elements, which makes the website unclear in terms of its downloading and its appearance on the screen.

Avoid frames. They could seriously damage your website usability.

Avoid having a site made exclusively in FLASH, because just to download a Flash site, before your users can see anything of your site at all, will take several minutes, so you won’t be able to explain to your users in a fast and clear way, what your site is about, who it would be useful for, or what your users could gain by using your services.

If you insist, however, on including FLASH elements, a much better option is to insert them into a regular html page as a small, separate file, but even in this case, you should have a clear purpose in including it, a purpose that contributes to the overall effect of your website.

Always include a comprehensible title tag, which explains clearly what is your page about (the title tag is the page title you see on the top of the browser).

Always include text on your homepage that explains to your users who you are and what you are talking about on your site.

Difficult navigation, incomprehensible for the user

Don't upset the user by poor navigation; it will make him feel lost. A visitor could enter your site by any one of its pages, not only by the home page. If he enters by a different page, it must be immediately evident to him where he is on your site, and where he can go by clicking on the links provided.

Don't leave your site without a site map. The site map gives the user the opportunity to orient himself quickly and easily.

Always put on each of your pages a link to the home page plus the firm's name and logo, and make them a link to the home page, as well.

Avoid orphaned pages, where a user could get lost.

Don't change the default color of the hyperlinks, because users expect to see them exactly that way. When a text is blue, the user is used to thinking it is a link, and if it is purple, that it is a visited link. Colors different from the default ones will confuse them.

Don't make blue a text that is not a hyperlink. That will also confuse them.

Don't place a link that leads to the same page, except those that go to other sections on the page.

Poorly written, unvalidated code that generates errors

The code your site is written in is validated according to browsers from different types and versions.

Incorrectly written program code will make your site users close it immediately due to its poor appearance in their browsers.

Correctly written code is the best way to ensure the proper appearance of your pages on the greatest possible variety of browsers. This includes both old and future versions.

About the author
Veselin Andreev is one of the founders of Svilaves, which offers website design and promotion services, the quality and effect of which are aimed at the successful development of their clients’ business. Read the exact details of their services at http://www.svilaves.com

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