You’re a good designer (and you know it!) but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily immune to falling into some less-than-stellar design habits from time to time. There are lots of common design mistakes web designers make, but it’s better to make mistakes and continue to grow than to avoid trying anything new. Take a periodic review of your own habits and be sure you aren’t regularly making any of these errors:
The copy is difficult to read
A lot goes into making copy easy to read, from selecting the right fonts to choosing the best colors to formatting in a logical manner. One pitfall to avoid is having a fixed font size. These days, with visitors using an enormous variety of devices, screen sizes, and resolution settings, a fixed font size is only going to turn off a big portion of your site visitors. When it comes to the font itself, sans-serif font is best for presenting content on a screen.
Pay attention to the way you lay out the copy. It needs to be scannable, with headlines, subheads, and small paragraphs. The goal is to make it easy to scan, so the site visitors can find the information they need quickly, without being hit in the face by a wall of text. You also need to keep an eye on the colors you use in your design. Keep an eye on some of your own favorite sites and take note of what within the color scheme makes them easy to read.
The layout is confusing
Quite a few factors can contribute to a confusing layout. The structure of the website itself needs to make sense, arranging information in a logical way. But each individual page’s layout needs to make sense, too. There should be plenty of white space in the margins and around each element. The page design from page to page doesn’t necessarily need to be identical (that wouldn’t work in most cases, anyway), but every page on the site needs to be consistent with the rest of the site, too.
Watch out for clutter, also. Too many images, graphics, or animations will get in the way of the site visitor being able to find what they need. Clutter just gets in the way and causes frustration — and when there’s too much frustration, the audience isn’t going to stick around.
The navigation is ineffective
Both the site navigation and the navigation within a given page need to be designed with an eye to usefulness. On individual pages, any hyperlinks or shortcuts within the text need to work — broken links are frustrating and should be fixed or removed. In addition, it’s very helpful for a site user to see the difference between a clicked link and one that hasn’t been clicked; this distinction is most easily made when the hyperlink within the text changes color after it’s been clicked.
The overall site navigation needs to make sense, too. The menu needs to present page content in simple, one-word tabs or buttons. The information on each page needs to be relevant so that when a visitor clicks the navbar, they’ll find what they’re looking for.
To help with any potential navigation issues, it’s also really helpful to have an effective search box.
There’s no contact information
Having a way to contact the site owner or someone within the organization is essential. Many internet users these days expect to find a prominently placed contact page on the site, and they’re frequently used. It’s best to include a contact page with at least one method of contact in every site design.
The forms are annoying
Have you ever had the frustrating experience of trying to fill out and submit a form on a website and it was hard to read and required all kinds of inane fields? Don’t be that designer.
It’s not uncommon for websites to attempt to collect contact information from site visitors. There’s nothing wrong with this, but there’s definitely something wrong with using forms that are lengthy, bulky, or otherwise annoying. Forms should work smoothly, not be obtrusive, and ask for as little as possible. Be sure that any form you design only collects the data you actually need, and that the required fields actually are necessary.
Keeping your head in a web design
The key to avoiding most of these common design mistakes is simply focusing on designing a website that looks good and is intuitive. The content should be presented cleanly and effectively, and all the little things we come to expect from great websites should be included. Keep an eye on user experience, and you’ll be at a much smaller risk of committing any major design boo-boos.
What web design mistake do you see most often?