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The Ten Deadly Sins of Web Site Design: Visual Mistakes to Avoid

written by: Niki Fears•edited by: Robin L.•updated: 4/2/2010

Deadly web design mistakes can kill your web site. Read on for tips on what you should avoid.

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    Avoid These Visual Design Mistakes

    Regardless of what a great idea that you have, or if you are selling the latest and greatest product to hit the market, if your web site is a flop, it is going to hurt your business and turn visitors away. When designing your web site keep these ten deadly mistakes in mind to make sure that you avoid killing your web site before it even gets off of the ground. In the first part of this two part series, we will look at the visual mistakes that can ruin your site.

    1. Bad Color Choices:

    I am always amazed when I visit a seemingly professional site and find that they have chosen horrible color combinations that ruins the web site. What makes for a bad color choice? The key to choosing the colors for your web site are contrast and compatibility. A light colored text on a light background for example is a very bad combination because it makes your site very difficult to read. While you certainly want your colors to compliment one another, there should be enough contrast between them to make your text stand out and be easy to read. Likewise, you do not want everything on your site to be the same color, using complimentary and contrasting color choices for headers, navigation, or links helps your visitor to easily spot the different sections of your site and find the information that they need.

    2. Noisy Backgrounds

    Similar to the above problem, backgrounds that are very busy with loud or cluttered patterns or animations can make a page very difficult to read and bring undue headaches to your site visitors. If you want to use a pattern background, I suggest layering a solid block over the background, allowing the pattern to peek out from behind it. This way the text can be on a solid easy to read background while you still get the effect from the background that you desire.

    3.Media Overload

    While adding dynamic content to your website can enhance the site, be careful not to overload a page with a lot of videos, pictures, or animations. Having large files on a page will make it slow and difficult to load. Instead, consider using thumbnails that link to full sized photos or videos and using smaller file sizes on the pages where multiple files appear.

    4. Cluttered Ads

    While ads can often be an important part of financing your website, they should be placed neatly and appropriately. If your site looks more like a junksale at some backwoods flea market than it does a site of useful information, you are likely to lose your visitors after about five seconds. Additionally, visitors are more likely to stay on your site if they see your content immediately, if they have to scroll past rows and rows of annoying animated ads just to find the beginning of your site, then you are creating a recipe for site suicide. Place your ads neatly and evenly throughout your site and avoid over kills; using no more than one single banner sized row at the top of the page.

    5. Badly Designed Navigation

    Another site killer is having poorly designed navigation. If a visitor can not figure out how to get around your web site they are likely to become easily flustered and move on to another site. While you may certainly want to link to various parts of your site through links in the content itself, you should also take care to have an organized navigation that clearly defines the various parts of your site and it should be easily visible upon loading your page. Generally, the navigation should appear at the top of the page or on either the right or left side of the screen but still towards the top.

    Keep these points in mind when you are designing your site and read on to the second part of this article to learn about key layout and content mistakes that you will want to avoid.

The Ten Deadly Sins of Site Web Site Design

A two part series looking at common design mistakes that can ruin a web site.
  1. The Ten Deadly Sins of Web Site Design: Visual Mistakes to Avoid
  2. The Ten Deadly Sins of Site Web Site Design: Layout and Content Mistakes