I’ve seen it happen time and again, someone is just starting out with their first web design and they get too ambitious, or they simply don’t know that they’ve even made a mistake. But for the experienced Web Designer, things like code validation, optimized images, and uncluttered and easy to use websites seem to come as second nature.
My inspiration for this post comes from a recent post I read on DesignersMind, titled “The 20 Most Common Mistakes in Website Design“. The article focuses on not only on some basic design principles that should hopefully be common sense, but also on other problems a designer might encounter, such as an Untested Web Site, No Contact Information, Old Content, and No Prices.
Many times a new designer will ask for a review of their site and the first thing that I will notice is whether or not their code validates and what the site looks like across multiple browsers. From there I can dig deeper into the site and see just how up to date the content is, how easy the site is to navigate, and how hard it is to contact someone if I have a problem.
One of my biggest pet peeves are designers that build the majority of their site using Flash, or Image Slices, instead of using good ol’ HTML and CSS. It’s great that you can create a beautiful website out of 20 different images or some cool flash interface that I can’t understand (it’s not by the way), but it doesn’t mean a thing if no one can find it (search engines or otherwise). Remember most search engines are looking for text and links, some search engines will even look at images (or at least the alt tags associated to them), but good luck having that search engine actually index the content of that Flash interface, not to mention accessibility usually suffers too.
So as a new web designer what steps should you take to avoid these mistakes?
2. Images are great but if you can do the same thing with a little HTML and CSS, do it! And when you do use images on your site, make sure to optimize them as best you can (gif/png for images with text and logos, jpg for everything else).
3. Flash has its place too. Flash can be used to help make a site more dynamic, and interesting for your viewers but remember to Keep It Simple (a small banner, or section is ok but stay away from an entire site or interface).
4. As if you don’t already have enough to worry about, always TEST TEST TEST your sites in as many browsers as you can. It’s best to test your site design in a standards compliant browser such as Firefox first, but remember that many people still use Internet Explorer 6 and 7, and some of us like to use Safari and/or Opera too.
5. Finally, and probably a much more important piece of advice is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for on your site, and don’t overload your site with links, and columns, and ads, and popups, and all of the content you can possibly squeeze into one page.