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December 2008
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Common Web Design Mistakes To Avoid

Whether you already have an online presence for your business, or if you’re just thinking about setting up a website, you should be aware of these common mistakes to avoid.

Typography Problems

There is really no excuse for misspelled words on a web page these days, since most every computer has at least one program with a spell checker.  The real issue with typography problems however, is the use of inconsistent fonts and illogical blocks of text.  Bolder and bigger are not necessarily better.

Use the same basic fonts throughout your website to create uniformity and keep your visitor’s attention focused on the message, not the delivery.  Only use large, bold or unusual fonts sparingly for effect.

Information Overload

The home page of any website sets the image of the company and creates the all important first impression for your visitors.  The mistake commonly made here is to overload the home page with too much information. 

Don’t try to cram everything in to one page.  You only have a few seconds to grab your visitor’s attention – your goal should be to try to funnel their path through your site to the information or products they’re looking for, without making them click through too many pages.  The general rule of the thumb is the “three click rule”, if a visitor has to click through more than three links to get to the information they’re looking for, they are much more likely to give up and leave your site.

Optimize From The Start

Many people focus on things like color, content and function when designing a web site and they neglect to plan for search engine optimization.  SEO is extremely important to a site’s potential traffic level, as well as its ranking in search engines.  So, in order for your site not to be buried on page 12 or beyond in a search for your product, you need to plan your SEO strategy while designing the website, not later.

Be sure to include page titles, meta tags, keywords and alternate text for graphics from the very beginning.  SEO is essential to the online marketing of your site, but it isn’t difficult, so be sure to at least learn the basics and include them in your pages.

Bucking Convention

Trying to reinvent the wheel with unique buttons, non-traditional navigation or cute terms for common things may set your site apart from others, but it also serves to confuse customers who may not be Internet savvy or may simply not get your humor.  Changing traditional terms, such as using customer love instead of customer support or shopping bag instead of shopping cart may seem like a good idea, but not if they annoy or confuse your potential buyers!

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Author, Instructor & Pattern Designer


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