Having a website that is both unique and compelling is a priority nowadays. Having a site that is poorly designed impacts negatively on that sites ability to convert, which results in loss of revenue. This is a reality that applies to a great many websites out there. A lot of business owners are more fixated on saving money when it comes to creating their sites. This results in them having a website but not having one that is well designed, leading to a site that doesn’t do very much for that business.
Web design is, essentially an art form, and as an art form, the web designer should be thinking about what they want the visitor to feel, when on their site. Proper web design should combine function and form in such a way to make that site navigable, fun, usable and interesting. In order to do this there are a number of rules, both spoken and unspoken that a web designer must adhere to. Oftentimes a web designer will not follow these rules and that’s when problems start to occur.
Make sure you don’t fall into that trap. From my own personal experience I can say the mistakes below are what most web designers fall into.
1. Online Reading via PDF Files
The vast majority of surfers hate PDF files while online, because it disrupts what they are doing. Doing simple things such as saving or printing a document can oftentimes be a chore as standard commends don’t work with them. Most layouts are optimised for your standard A4 paper size, which in most cases doesn’t match the size of your browser user window. The end result is tiny fonts on a large piece of paper.
In addition to that, PDF file tends to be unformatted, making it difficult to navigate through.
PDF has proven to be very good when it comes to printing and also for distributing flyers and manuals and other large documents that need to be printed. Thus, PDFs should be reserved specifically for this purpose while converting any data that needs to be read while browsing onto the actual page.
2. Use of Misleading Expectations
Another common issue that a lot of sites make is to use links that are misleading or they create expectations that are misleading for the visitor.
This means, if you add a link to a page on your website, that indicates that the end user will receive a reward for clicking on it, then they should receive exactly what they expect.
If you give the visitor the impression that there’s a blog post or video behind a link, then it should go to exactly that. Promising the visitor a video only to link to a slideshow or something else, breaks any trust you hope to establish between you and your visitors.
3. Prevent Text from Being Copied or Selected
One mistake a lot of designers make in their site is not allowing the visitor to either copy or select information.
Copy and Paste is undoubtedly one of the most common and basic commands that people use. When you restrict visitors from using these commands you make it increasingly more difficult for people to use the data on your site.
What happens if a visitor to your site wants to do the following?
- Share information on your site with a colleague or friend.
- Check your product or service out on Google before buying it.
- Take notes from your site before making a decision.
All of these things become almost impossible because you’ve prevented them from copying the text on your page.
If you prevent visitors from selecting and copying the text on your web pages, you must know that they won’t bother taking the time to write it down manually.
The end result is you losing out on another potential client, who was interested in your business, only for them to be thwarted by a silly web design element.
4. Not Changing Visited Links Colour
When you have an idea of your past navigation, it helps you better identify your location, since it all adds up, as part of your journey. When you know both your past and present locations, it makes it easier for you to determine where next to go. In this navigation process, links are very important. Users will hope to avoid links that yield very little results in the past. On the flip side, they may opt to revisit a page they found helpful in the past.
For a web surfer, knowing exactly which pages they’ve been on, frees them from revisiting any pages unintentionally, in a repeated fashion.
Such circumstances only occur under one specific condition. That is, when the user is unable to differentiate between a visited and unvisited link, because the site shows both in the same colours. When the colour of a visited link remains the same colour, it can and oftentimes does cause disorientation on the part of the user, resulting in them unintentionally visiting the same pages over and over again.
5. Opening New Browser Windows
Every time you open up a new browser window on your web site, it can be likened to starting off on the wrong foot for any salesperson. You don’t want to pollute the users screen with unnecessary windows. This is especially an issue, due to the management system of Windows, and how cumbersome many opened Windows can appear on your browser.
Many web designers like to open new browser windows under the idea that it keeps end users on their site. But even when you disregard the negative implications of cluttering up the users machine with many opened windows, the strategy does prove to be self-defeating, as the back button is unusable on these new windows. With the back button being the most conventional way people use to go back to where they were. In many instances the user won’t even realise that a new window has been opened, especially if they own a small monitor, where a maximised window takes up the entire screen. So the user may be confused by their inability to use the back button to go back to their original location.
For links that don’t behave as they are expected to, they ultimately end up undermining the user’s understanding. Any link you use should naturally replace the page that the user is currently on. Most users do not like pop-up windows. When a user wants to open a page in a new window, they will usually do it by themselves. So you shouldn’t feel that you have to or must.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.