Designing an attractive web page that keeps people coming back is fairly simple these days. There are many programs available to help individuals easily tailor their website to their audience, or customize it to meet their personal design preferences. However, as any web designer can tell you, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. When your page is too busy—or not interesting enough—you can quickly lose viewers. You may be unaware that you are guilty of many of these common web design mistakes.
1. Distracting Text Effects
Strike-through, superscript, subscript, bold and italic text should be used where appropriate within the content, but not as a means to visually impact visitors. There is rarely a good time to use scrolling or blinking text aside from temporary announcements. If your company is showcasing a new deal, or you are highlighting a new feature of your site, using text effects is fine; otherwise, keep it simple.
2. Auto-Playing Audio and Video
Audio and video are both excellent interactive tools that many users love, but it is best to set players so that users can start and stop the content when they want. The larger the content file sizes are, the longer it takes a page to load. If audio-visual elements are set to auto-play, they compete with other content to load, especially ads, which often causes a page to hang up.
3. Intrusive Ads
Ads are a necessary source of revenue for many websites, but they are ineffective when users are bombarded with them. In-text ads that pop up on mouse-over and obstruct the text, display over the content with no apparent way to close them, and pop up ads, will all cause users to flee. Limit the amount of advertisements you display on each page, and try to make sure they don’t interfere too much with the user’s experience.
4. Harsh Color Schemes and Busy Textures
Use an advanced color wheel when designing a website to avoid unfortunate color combinations. Just because yellow and purple technically go together, it doesn’t mean that lilac and ocher do. Avoid textured backgrounds that appear too busy or distract from the content as well.
5. Difficult to Read Text
Decorative fonts are useful when designing posters for movies, plays, concerts and other events—but are horrible for a website. If the font looks “cool”, it is likely not the best choice. Go with the same fonts used in books, magazines and newspapers. They are easy to read and look professional. Additionally, avoid layering font over images. If trying to decipher a couple sentences takes readers more than a few seconds, more often than not they’ll move onto the next site.
6. Confusing Navigation
When users have to click more than once or twice to find something or have to hunt to find menus obscured by visual elements, they have done too much work. Organize pages appropriately, and make popular pages easier to find. Keep user options, like search engines or links to a home page or blog, clearly visible on each page.
A lot of clutter makes it difficult for users to focus on what they came for. Pages riddled with ads, animations, unrelated content and other distractions create a design without any cohesiveness, and users will often leave right away. Keep your content clearly organized, and limit the amount of information on each page.
8. Multi-Page Articles
Users like short articles, because they take very little time to read. Pages laden with heavy navigation, tons of ads and other slow-loading elements are frustrating the first time around. Making users reload that same interface more than once for the sake of making an article look short when it isn’t is a great way to lose them.
As with blinking text, auto-playing audio and video, clutter and poor color choices, animations that have nothing to do with the content are annoying to users. Keep animations to a minimum, if any, and ensure they are not on an endless loop. Instead of using numerous animations to add flare to your site, use one or two to highlight important information. Consider giving visitors an option to permanently ignore the animation, or any other flashy features.
Clayton Jennings is a freelance marketing and technology blogger, and he contributed this post on behalf of Excalibur Exhibits. Once you have mastered the art of web design, keep your brand marketing sharp with Excalibur Exhibits’ custom exhibit design at your next trade show.