- TOO BUSY (OR JUNKY) – When a user first views your website they are either struck with a pleasant feeling of calmness due to the simplicity, or they feel uneasy about how much information is randomly scattered around the screen. The information should be organized and presented in a way that allows the user to take in small chunks before scrolling down or clicking a link. There are several design concepts that can cause business and they all should be incorporated into reaching the goal of creating a calm presentation of your information.
- COLORS DON’T MATCH – Some colors match and some don’t match. It’s that simple. There are tools available to designers for determining what colors go with a certain known color. If you have a logo with 2 colors in it, additional colors can be chosen using these tools and then incorporated into the design theme. Don’t take chances by relying solely on your eye and what you think looks good together! This includes colors on top of other colors, background colors and text colors. It’s often a great technique to sample colors from a great photo you plan to use prominently on the home page, and spread one or two of these colors around the page in headings, text, navigation, etc. You don’t have to be good at matching colors to know when you visit a website that the colors don’t look right together or they look great together!
- POOR ALIGNMENT OF ELEMENTS – This is the one I’m most OCD about! Elements such as text boxes, headings, paragraphs, and images should line up somehow on the page. Whether it be left aligned, right aligned, or centered, there should be some thought behind how things are laid out and how they line up. In web design with HTML and CSS, paddings and margins are your best friends. This alignment holds especially true for mobile and may have to be changed to fit properly on a phone. In general, a user’s eye should see a perfect alignment top to bottom and usually left to right.
- DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE (TOO CONFUSING) – No matter how appealing a web page looks, it must be organized and easy to navigate or your visitors will leave. The information should goe from general to specific and when the user is ready for additional related information or ready to learn more detail, the link or button should be staring him in the face. This requires anticipating properly what the typical user will be experiencing and how their learning about your services will progress. If a user clicks a link and ends up somewhere else on the page or on a different page, it should not be hard to find a way back. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on a website to find information and get totally lost in all the different clicks and pages. This should be picked up in the user experience testing before production. Also, this disorganized problem can evolve over time as a site gets updated and changed. Logical and organized navigation needs to be constantly considered as changes evolve.
- NOT RESPONSIVE – You are in trouble if your website is not responsive today since the majority of users are using smartphones. Colleges are now teaching “mobile first” in web development classes and desktop second. This means that it’s more important that your page design fits and looks great on a smartphone, even if that means compromising an idea you had for its appearance on a desktop. If your current site is older and not responsive, basically you need a responsive re-design, since its more trouble than it’s worth to try to make a static, outdated website responsive. A web page must adjust itself to the screen width where it’s being viewed. It’s almost guaranteed that when a user sees a website on their phone that is showing the entire desktop design shrunk down to fit on their phone screen size, they will immediately ignore your site and search for another. This means you’ve basically lost about 80% of your users. It used to be that this only applied to younger users 30 and under, but not anymore. Now smartphone web surfers can easily be in their 60s, 70s, some even in their 80 or 90s!
While there are many problems and aspects of good web design, these are five big ones, and you will have a great website if you’ve effectively covered them in your design. If you find a good web designer who demonstrates the ability to build websites that handle these things well, he or she will help you during the requirements gathering phase. Be sure to listen to the suggestions and make sure you have the same goal in mind, which is to end up with a calming, color-coordinated, well aligned, efficient and responsive website. You’ll be well pleased!