Top 5 Web Design Pet Peeves

The evolution of web sites over the past ten years has been amazing. What started out as a motley gathering of crassly designed personal sites has evolved into a varied collection of multimedia presentations, dynamic online journals and stylishly designed online brochures.

What has not changed, however, is bad web page design.

As a small business owner, it is usually wise to hand over the design of your web site to an expert. After all, your time and energy is best spent attracting and providing service to your clients.

However, the more you know about web design, the more you can guide your web designer towards an end result that fits your needs.

This is YOUR web site, and is the online face of your business. Do not let your designer make these mistakes on your site - please.

My Top 5 Web Design Pet Peeves:

5. Page Overboard

Your web designer might enjoy showing off his or her mastery of the latest techniques, but that does not mean they belong on your site.

Going overboard by adding animation or a "splash page" not only adds to the page loading time, but it can really irritate visitors who just want to see the information they came for.

Irritated visitors equal lost revenue and lost opportunities, so keep your web site clean, simple and easy to navigate.

4. Irrelevant Content

Content Is King when designing your web site, and is equally important to both of the major groups who will determine the success of your web site.

The first group is your web site visitors. They have come in search of specific, current and relevant information, and they want it now. If they cannot find it, then poof, they are gone!

The second group is the search engines. If the search engines find relevant information on your site, then they will pass along your site as a source of that information.

To keep your visitors and the search engines happy, a web site requires your ongoing attention. Outdated information sends a message to your visitor that you are not taking care of business. They can easily assume that you also will not take care of them as a customer.

Oh, and do not even get me started on the kind of impression you will make with bad grammar and typos; enough said.

3. Graphic Takeovers

Do not let your web site be taken hostage by your graphics. Whenever you introduce non-text elements to your web design, you reduce the accessibility of your pages, and this creates problems for visitors with special needs.

You may have visitors who are visually impaired and rely on screen readers, or who are still relying on dial-up connections (up to 30% of Internet users).

So, to make your web page dial-up friendly and accessible, limit the number of graphics, displaying only those that truly complement your page. Then, make the graphics web-ready by taking these four steps:

1. Compress the file to either JPG (for photos) or GIF (for icons, buttons, etc.) format.

2. Crop out any dead space.

3. Resave the image with a resolution of 72 dpi, which is the ideal resolution for web sites.

4. Add appropriate "alt" tags to all graphics so that screen readers can properly "read" the graphics, menus, buttons, and text.

2. Graphic Monstrosities

Having large graphics that slow down your page is bad enough. Blinking, scrolling, or animated text is even worse. But using fuzzy, distorted, or unprofessional graphics is the absolute worst offense you can commit on a web site.

This will immediately create the impression that your work is of a low quality - remember, your web site is the online face of your business.

Adding professional graphics does not have to be expensive. You can pick up web-ready photos at istockphoto.com for a buck!

1. And my NUMBER 1 WEB DESIGN PET PEEVE is -- Keyword Stuffing

There is a very disturbing and unethical web design trend occurring right now. Designers will "stuff" a site with keywords so that it is identified in the most popular keyword searches, WHETHER OR NOT that web site has anything to do with the subject of the search.

Disappointed visitors may spend a couple of minutes at your site trying to find what they were looking for, but the naive hope that they will then get sidetracked from their search because your site is so interesting is a risky tactic.

More than likely they will click away in frustration and you will have lost their trust forever by misleading them.

Folks, web design is really quite simple. People visit web sites because they need something - information, a product or a service.

When they get to your site, they want quick access to accurate, relevant and up-to-date content that is easy to see and not cluttered by advertisements.

Your web site does not have to be the prettiest or have the latest gizmos and cool tricks to get your point across and serve your visitors.

Stick with the basics and if your web designer is pushing you to commit any of these pet peeves, watch out!