Learn how to avoid the top 10 web site bloopers --ranging from poor color selections to spelling and grammatical errors -- which can cause people to exit your site far too soon.
Designing your own web page or web site is a project that can be as fun and creative as you like. There are so many free resources on the Internet that you don’t need expensive web page designing programs. Many of the major ISPs provide adequate templates to design your site. AOL features Easy Designer, and Yahoo also has several starter templates.
You’re putting your work out there for potentially millions of people to read. Whether your page showcases your prized collection of stamps, your photos of family and pet[s], or you’re trying to build a new business; your web page is the best window of opportunity to make a good impression. Keep in mind that most surfers will give your page about 15 seconds. This means one thing: make it memorable! To do this, here are 10 very important gaffes to avoid. [They’re not listed in any particular order].
1. Too many fonts. There are hundreds of available fonts from the standard size Times New Roman to extra large and bold Goudy Stout. Using more than two, possibly three, fonts are not recommended. Sure it’s fun experimenting with the right font for your page, but unless you’re creating a web site where you’re featuring fonts, keep it simple.
2. Text and background colors should be harmonious. In the olden days, computers had one color background – basic black. Text was either amber or green. Some people go haywire and decide that lavender and bubble gum pink look really sweet together. I recently surfed onto a site where the Webmaster or Webmistress had decided that a cool blue background with a violet font would entice visitors. I scrolled down to see if there was a hit counter and there wasn’t so I have no idea how many others endured that color combo.
3. With the advent of animated graphics [GIF’s], most of them available for the rock bottom price of nothing, people can go crazy decorating their site with the visual equivalent of Disney World. Some of the animations do more than move; they make noise! Remember, folks, less is more! One or two appropriate animations per page can enhance it. Yes, animation is fun. But too much can be distracting.
4. Banners away! I understand that displaying banners can equal financial increase. Many companies gladly give you their banner and you earn money every time someone clicks onto it. Surely there’s nothing wrong with a few of these banners, but when they begin multiplying all over the page like Tribbles, then yes, there is difficulty in navigating around your site. If you have enough room, try displaying them on a separate page or section and name it appropriately. We do understand that it’s all about commerce, or should we say, e-commerce. But try not to go overboard with the banners.
5. Spell check your page. Read it. Then read it again. Even if you have a graphics’ intensive site, you will have some text. When that text is misspelled and/or full of grammatical errors, you will turn away a proportionate amount of traffic. I once discovered a site with TWELVE misspellings on one page! Now that’s a lazy writer/editor. No matter what you’re selling or showing on the WWW, being able to do so in proper English is always appreciated. After all, it’s your web site with your name on it. Do you want to be thought of as a dummy? Most word processing programs include a spell check. And it you’re in doubt, have someone who likes to read and write proofread it.
6. Text only sites are BORING! If we want to read a book online we’ll go to an e-book company and download one! Or to the library…get the point? Even if you’re writing a serious reference site, there’s always a way to include an elegant little graphic, a neutral colored background, [other than white!] or a line to break up the paragraphs. The Internet is a visual medium for most of us [except those who run their browser in a text-only format to save time], so make it look attractive. After all, you are inviting people to share something with you.
7. The other extreme would be sites that are so graphics intensive that we spend several minutes waiting for the last picture to load. While it may be a very entertaining site, the epoch it takes to show us how fantastic those photos/graphics really are may be too long for impatient surfers. Balance pictures with text. Find a way to make the photos a little smaller so they don’t take as long to unfold into their full glory. If you absolutely must have a lot of visuals, please warn people in advance. A simple ‘please refill your coffee while graphics load’ might suffice. Then again, it might not!
8. Broken links don’t make you very popular. Who likes seeing that ‘404 File Not Found’ on their screen? CHECK YOUR LINKS before launching your site.
9. If you need to add music to your site, please have an off switch. That someone will share your taste in music isn’t always going to be the case. During the weeks before Christmas how many sites did we come upon that played various versions of “Jingle Bells” and other carols? While music can enhance a site, it can also detract from it. When I was researching various web hosts, I came upon the most appalling example of what a web site shouldn’t contain. The blaring techno music was so relentless that I immediately searched for the off button. I never found it. I was next visually assaulted with a growing font that looked like it was going to jump out of my computer. Instead, it froze. The screen, now almost completely lime green with font, had just enough space for me to read the words: “...will design a site like this for you.” As my speakers were going: “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyy” from the stuck music and the monitor displaying that parody, I shut my computer off. Enough said?
10. Update your site periodically. You’ll know when it’s time. Signs like ‘last updated 1998’ give clues to the surfer that this is a cobweb. The more you freshen your contents, the more likely you are to remain fresh in people’s minds. Plus it helps your rankings in the search engines.
Hope you have fun designing your web page. It’s your way to show off what you know. If you’re interested in checking out a music-free and [currently] banner-free example, here you go: