When It Goes Wrong: Examples Of Bad Website Design

Description: Just as you know a well designed website when you see one, it's also easy to spot a badly designed one. That doesn't make it any easier to design your own, but it does throw up some warning signs for you to steer clear of.

It's said that the best way to learn how to design a great website is to have a look at websites that just don't make the grade. Luckily for us there are plenty of these online - and they have much to tell us. At least in this sense bad websites aren't a total waste of time, as they can advise us how not to do what they're doing.

The incorrect use of color is a big sin as far as web design goes. You can tell someone is trying too hard to get your attention when the background color of their website is scrolling past you in all the colors of the rainbow. That is to say, it would be the rainbow if it consisted of luminous shades instead of pastel ones.

Unnecessarily flashing icons and banners are another big turn off. If you need to say ?click here' in an annoying manner then your banner or advert really isn't strong enough to get anyone to ?click there'. One of the most important things to bear in mind when you are designing a website is to remember that your words matter the most. People find your website via search engines through the words that come up in the search results. Flashing banners don't appear in search results and neither do any other visual means of trying to get someone else's attention. The words matter the most - so make use of them.

With that said, you need to make sure that you display your words in the best way possible. However good your web copy is, you need to ensure it's readable. Some of the worst sins of bad web design include trying to fit too much copy on a page by using small, hard to read fonts and type sizes; shouting by using capitalized text; using italics to emphasize whole paragraphs when it's simply not necessary; and not using common sense design methods to split the text up and make it easier to read, like well constructed sentences and paragraphs.

If there is one thing everyone should ensure their visitors don't experience when they reach a website, it is confusion. Graphics certainly have their place in web design, but they should never take the place of words. Firstly any site that relies too heavily on graphics runs the risk of not doing well in Google or any other search engine results, since there will be no text for the Google bots to do anything with. Secondly if the reason for the graphics isn't clear, the visitor may well get frustrated and move on to another site to find the information they want.

Bad - or non-existent - navigation is another huge sin that many people commit. This goes hand in hand with not having a site map. If you want people to stay on your site, don't try and achieve it by ensuring that they get lost in its myriad of pages as soon as they arrive. Give them what they need and make sure they can find their way around - otherwise they will leave via the back button.

But perhaps the biggest sin you can commit as a website designer is to create a site that serves your own purpose. Now at first glance this might not seem like a big problem. But why are you creating a website in the first place? Presumably you want to attract the attention of the right people and hopefully sell them something while they're on your site.

If you want to do that, you'll have to appeal to your visitors - and that means your website must be designed with them in mind and not you. Of course you will want to make sales and make money from your site, but in order to do that you will need to ensure the site has plenty to offer your visitors, instead of indulging in everything you like, regardless of whether it has any real interest for your audience or not.

Web design is an ongoing process, but if you can learn to avoid the worst potholes you can start creating good websites right from the word go.

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