Blog Audio: Read/listen time: 6 minutes
In this 5 part series about ‘Unforgivable Website Mistakes,’ I discuss some common mistakes business owners make that stop them succeeding. All of these issues could have been avoided by employing an experienced web designer.
In this third part of the series, we cover another five important errors that it’s critical to avoid. As always, if you have any comments, improvements or spot some errors please let me know.
- Too Many Fonts
- Poor Colour Choice
- No Phone Number
- Not Responsively Designed
- Excessive Demands on The Visitor
By Paul Edwards
1. Too Many Fonts
Fonts are amazing. Fonts help create hierarchy, structure, flow, improve aesthetics and so much more.
Many think that typography is basically what web design comes down to. I’m not sure I quite agree to that extent but the first part of what I wrote I am sure is true. Next time you look at a good website stop and pay attention to the typeface, the fonts used.
So, fonts are great, yes they are. However, too many fonts on a page are bad. When there are two to three different fonts on a page then that is normally sufficient to assist the eye in differentiating between the main body of the page, titles and other areas that demand our attention such as callouts or menus.
Once we exceed three font styles on a page the page will become visually confusing. The more styles we put on a page then the more confusing or disorienting the content can become. The fonts themselves can start to detract from the content of the page, the appearance of the words becomes obstructive to the understanding and the ease of which information is absorbed by the visitor.
If your page is confusing or difficult to read then visitors won’t read it.
- Free hosted web fonts from Google
- Web fonts from Adobe Edge
- Free unhosted fonts to download from Font Squirrel
2. Poor Colour Choice
Colour choice or ‘color’ to web designers everywhere (CSS uses the spelling color, not colour) is so important. Different colours are associated with and can stimulate different emotional reactions from those that look at them.
Not only does colour relate to different emotional states but in some countries, particular colours have very strong associations both positive and negative. In some countries black relates to death, in other countries white is associated with death. Red may be lucky or it may be inappropriate to display. Consider the target market for your website and do some research to see if there any taboos which you may unwittingly be breaking.
The human eye is an amazing thing, however, it does struggle with some colour combinations. In the above image, I give an example which should illustrate the importance of choosing good combinations of background, foreground and text colours. I hope that the image says enough without further explanation.
- I use Adobe Kuler to find complimentary, contrasting and even clashing colours. I cant recommend it enough.
Giving potential and existing customers a simple way to get in contact with you is such a basic element of doing business. If you don’t make it easy for people to contact you then you are wasting all the effort that you have put into your website.
Your phone number should ideally be in plain sight on every page of your website. Have a look at your website now. Can you see your phone number? Is it obvious to a new visitor? Then you must change this immediately.
One of the major selling points for my business is responsive web design. What that means is that all the sites I build now give a great user experience on smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
Time and time again I witness small businesses and sometimes not so small businesses arrive on Twitter with a fanfare and declare that they have a new website. Naturally, I go and have a look. To my surprise the vast majority of these new sites are static, which means they are a fixed size and don’t change size and shape to fit different screen sizes such as mobiles and tablets.
75% of visitors to my site were using mobile phones and tablets
What is the significance of this I hear you ask? Well, while networking I have Google Analytics open on another screen and I watch in real time as people from networking events and hashtag hours visit my site. In yesterday’s #sussexhour (a hashtag hour on twitter) 50% of all visits to my site were from mobile phones, 25% from tablets and only 25% from a regular desktop or laptop computers.
If 75% of my visitors were using mobile devices doesn’t it make sense for my website to give a good user experience on mobiles and tablets? Does your website work well on mobiles? If not you could be disappointing the majority of those visitors to your site.
Don’t know how to make your website mobile friendly?
Customers now expect your site to work on their mobile or tablet. Don’t lose out.
5. Excessive Demands on The Visitor
Steve Krug famously wrote a book titled “Don’t Make Me Think”. The title really does embody the essence of what it is to design a site which is easy to use, popular and is successful in making conversions. Incidentally, it’s a fantastic book and although written a long time ago it still applies to modern web design now.
Every step you make a visitor take is a barrier between them and your goal. For example:
- Avoid linking to a form on another page when you can add a small form to the page directly
- Don’t hide all your contact details on the contact page. Put phone number on every page
- Put all important information ‘above the fold’ to prevent unnecessary scrolling
- Don’t use a splash page its just one more thing to have to click on and a barrier between visitor and site
- When using forms, only ask for essential information. People resent giving away personal information
- List most popular menu items at the top or to the left so visitors don’t have to look far
This only scratches the surface of the topic but if the only thing you take from this is to remember ‘don’t make me think’ when you are designing a page, then you will improve your site dramatically.
- You can find Steve Krug’s book here. It really is worth the read.
- Wikipedia entry for ‘above the fold‘. Just in case you aren’t familiar with this term.
Coming Up in Part 4
In the fourth and penultimate part of this series, I will discuss the following items. Check back soon and please do feel free to comment.
- Auto Play Content
- Too Many Words
- Slow Page Loads
- Not Submitting to Directories & Search Engines
- Third Party Email Addresses