The Deadliest Web Sins

As a website developer, are you guilty of any of the following sins? If so, it might be time for some self reflection, a good confession and a promise to fix the errors of your ways. These come from a recent article written by a web surfer (hey, aren’t we all?) that every developer should read:

1 – Slow Download Times. OK, so we’ve gotten used to getting what we want RIGHT NOW! But, as a “general rule, the longer it takes your site to download, the fewer visitors will stick it out ’til the bitter end to see it,” says the article. Some suggestions: Try delivering information in a text-only format, check out the available compression tools and strike a good balance between image size and quality.

2 – Poor background and text colors. Don’t frustrate your readers with “psychedelic kittens giving the “peace” sign.” Use black text on white background for a business site. And make sure your links can be distinguished from the background.

3 – Blinking Text. Get rid of it; it’s annoying and not professional on a business page. As for GIFs and other images, certainly use a few to decorate, but, as the author says, “You run into problems when you’ve got 20 or so animated Smurfs doing the Macarena on one page.” LOL. I like that imagery.

4 – Frames. What the heck is the purpose of frames, anyway? Yeah, they could help readers navigate a sight, but do they really most of the time? In terms of layout, they tend to mess things up. Also, some search engines have problems with frames when indexing your site.

5 – The Long Scroll. Don’t write your page to go on forever. Instead, break up your content into short or medium sections of information, or provide links to longer content. After all, you don’t want people getting out their electron microscopes to find the scroll bar at the end of the site. And in these eco-conscious times, you don’t want to cause people using up two trees worth of paper to print out your web page information.

6 – The Hard Hat Syndrome, aka, “This Site is Under Construction.” If it’s not built, they still won’t come. Real easy to remember: don’t put your site up if it isn’t ready. After all, who’s going to bookmark an “under construction” site based on the little hard-hat guy holding up a sign saying “Pardon our appearance but…”

7 – The Sound of Music. No offense, Julie Andrews, but I hate the sound of music on business sites. If you’re building a professional site selling your services or products, why do you need music – especially the kind that loops continually? Most of the time, unless you’re selling some music-related product, it’s just plain cheesy and, again, annoying.

8 – Haphazard Design and Layout. Pick a theme, style, whatever, and stick to it. Using different fonts, colors and switching methods of navigation confuses people and hurts the eyes, mine anyway. Another point, if readers click to a different page and that page looks totally unlike where they just came from, they’ll be tempted to think they’ve lost their way.

9 – Designing for a Specific Browser/Color Setting/Screen Resolution. Don’t make the mistake of designing your site for any specific browser because then you run the risk of a chunk of viewers not being able to access your site. Don’t forget, not everybody updates their browsers before hitting the sack. Why take the chance of missing these folks? Avoid designing for a specific color setting or screen resolution, too. If you design for a higher setting, it creates an annoying horizontal scroll bar for people using lower settings that only moves when you read more.

10 – Spelling and HTML Errors. Proofread everything before putting it up there because there’s nothing more embarrassing on a business site than spelling errors, or, for that matter, mistakes you make in coding that render half your page in bold. Think about this: what do obvious errors – that can be easily avoided – say to potential customers about the quality of your products or services?