Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Top 10 Mistakes in Making A Website

1. Too many graphics:
A web page should load in a reasonable amount of time. If you use too many graphics, or graphics that are not scaled and saved in the most efficient format, your pages will take longer to load. Impatient users may bail out and go to another site. Clean and fast should be the goal. You can usually make a very nice layout using HTML and CSS without the whole page being a sliced up graphic. Of course I've built sites for people who insisted on pages based entirely on graphics and in that case I usually try to get the Adobe Photoshop files from the graphic artist and slice them and save the slices myself. This way I can mix and match file formats. For example sections with few colors can be saved as gifs which are usually very small, especially if you tweak the number of colors. Sections that contain more colors or photographs work best as jpg image files. Mixing file types like this can cause some issues that you should be aware of: colors may not match exactly between a gif and a jpg. For example if you have a background color in both or some other object in the images of adjoining cells you may have trouble getting a gif and jpg to look seamless because of slight color shifts.

2. Color Choices.

Just because it looks cool to you doesn't mean everyone will find it easy to read and appreciate your psychedelic color scheme. Try out your color choices on a mix of people before you get too far into your design.

Don't turn people away just because they have trouble reading your site. There are colors for backgrounds and text that perform much better than others colors for some types of sites, do your research first!

3. Animated Graphics.

You want your visitors to concentrate on whatever your site is about. If your pages look like the arcade at an amusement park with animated gifs everywhere they may never get to the part of the site that you want them to, such as the "buy" button. A little animation goes a long way.

4. Flash Splash Screens.

Flash is big these days and very useful for a lot of tasks, however, one thing you should avoid is a big flash welcome page as the default page of your web site. Most people find it very annoying to sit through it, or to have to click a skip button.

5. Cross Browser Compatible Issues.

Always check out your site on the main browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Firefox, Opera) a PC and Mac if possible. You'd be surprised how each web browser has its quirks. Sometimes a page will look really bad or completely wrong in one browser and you'll have to spend time correcting the problem. But, you won't know unless you test it... don't rely on your visitors to tell you.

6. Broken Links.

This one should be obvious, check you site's navigation and all the links occasionally. There are some tools available to do this for you if you have a really large site.

7. Disjointed Layout.

Make sure your site is easy to navigate. Have someone who's not familiar with your site use your site. Ask them to purchase something, or find the page for sending in questions, etc. Watch them as they work. Listen to what they have to say and fix your site to make it work better.

8. Incomplete Contact Information.

Keep the contact information on your site is current and complete. Do this as soon as anything changes.

9. Text in Graphics to Make "Pretty Text" vs. Real Text.

Font styles are somewhat limited for web pages. Some people want their site to look really good with fonts like you can use in word processing packages. So how do you do that? You can make it in Adobe PhotoShop or another graphic package and save out your text as images. This works really well as far as looking good, however, because images are naturally larger than text, the pages will load slower. But, the biggest drawback is not size, it's that you have your text, which tells what your site is about, locked up in images.

It's not accessible to search engines that crawl web sites.

What does that mean? It means that if you're relying on traffic to your site from search engines, you want real text, not images of text that only humans can read. If your site is not dependant on search engine traffic, then this may not matter other than the slower load time for the image laden pages.

10. Using Something Just To Be Using It.

When we remodeled our house, I wanted to use some stone somewhere. Our contractor kept saying that if we did, it would look like we used stone just to use some stone; it wouldn't look natural like a house designed from the start with stone. The same is true of web sites. Don't use flash, or background sounds, or videos that automatically load and start playing, or JavaScript that opens 900 windows. Only use those things when they are necessary, don't use them just because you may know how and want to show off.

11. Not Updating the Site.

As things change you should modify your site to reflect those changes. As you add new products or announce new products, you should add them to your site. As people change in your organization, you should update your site.


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