Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design

By Daniel Scocco

The Useit website has a very interesting collection of yearly “Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design” lists. According to the site the lists include “the ten most egregious offenses against users, (…) web design disasters and HTML horrors”. The lists are organized by year, and below you will find the latest update, check it out because most of (if not all) the points apply to blogs:

1. Bad Search: overly literal search engines reduce usability in that they’re unable to handle typos, plurals, hyphens, and other variants of the query terms. Such search engines are particularly difficult for elderly users, but they hurt everybody.

2. PDF Files for Online Reading: users hate coming across a PDF file while browsing, because it breaks their flow. Even simple things like printing or saving documents are difficult because standard browser commands don’t work.

3. Not Changing the Color of Visited Links: a good grasp of past navigation helps you understand your current location, since it’s the culmination of your journey. Knowing your past and present locations in turn makes it easier to decide where to go next. Links are a key factor in this navigation process.

4. Non-Scannable Text: a wall of text is deadly for an interactive experience. Intimidating. Boring. Painful to read.

5. Fixed Font Size: CSS style sheets unfortunately give websites the power to disable a Web browser’s “change font size” button and specify a fixed font size. About 95% of the time, this fixed size is tiny, reducing readability significantly for most people over the age of 40.

6. Page Titles With Low Search Engine Visibility: search is the most important way users discover websites. Search is also one of the most important ways users find their way around individual websites. The humble page title is your main tool to attract new visitors from search listings and to help your existing users to locate the specific pages that they need.

7. Anything That Looks Like an Advertisement: selective attention is very powerful, and Web users have learned to stop paying attention to any ads that get in the way of their goal-driven navigation. (The main exception being text-only search-engine ads.)

8. Violating Design Conventions: consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles: when things always behave the same, users don’t have to worry about what will happen. Instead, they know what will happen based on earlier experience. Every time you release an apple over Sir Isaac Newton, it will drop on his head. That’s good.

9. Opening New Browser Windows:
opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer’s carpet. Don’t pollute my screen with any more windows, thanks (particularly since current operating systems have miserable window management).

10. Not Answering Users’ Questions: users are highly goal-driven on the Web. They visit sites because there’s something they want to accomplish — maybe even buy your product. The ultimate failure of a website is to fail to provide the information users are looking for.

You can read the full article here.



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4 Responses to “Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design”

  • Courtland

    I have always found your blog post very educational. I will certainly go back to my blog and see if any of these problems are occurring on my blog and website.

  • Daily Good Tips

    I just use template from webdesign master. I have poor knowledge in blogger template. I am learning

  • Cwd

    I have made the #5 mistake on one of my sites based on Drupal, and I’ll definitely try to fix it.

    Maybe that is a reason for high bounce rate of visitors on that site.

  • Bes

    #9 and #10 are extremely important. A few years ago I came across a site where the author wouldn’t use the “target” attribute at all when creating links, saying that the users should have control themselves as to whether they want a new window or not. I loved that simple thought and have been trying it ever since.

    About not answering questions, many people who write plugins, for example, never get back to people offering feedback or even asking the simplest of questions. If one can’t be ready to answer questions, one shouldn’t ask for questions in the first place.

    The other parts are so obvious, yet I’m sure they are so simple many of us haven’t paid any attention to them. Thanks for sharing.

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