The 7 Deadly Sins of Web Design

Since most of the graphic designers we know have been involved mostly in web projects, we asked them to confess their guilty secrets – and we got an earful. Let’s be honest, we’re all a bit narcissistic about our work and when it’s out there, in the world wide web, we like to think that everyone is looking at the things the way WE wanted and designed.

Now, as hard it is to swallow this pill, but designing a site is not about you, the designer. It’s not your canvas and you’re not Picasso. The main function of a website is to be user friendly and informative.

Keeping this purpose in mind, here are the top crimes against website functionality that we still see:

1. Your Design Is King

Umm….it is not. Your vision may be a close kin to Salvador Dali’s melting clocks, but the frustrated user who can’t find the navigating menu will not appreciate it. Instead, he will give up on the site and look for another which he can actually navigate to find the information he needs.

The rule is simple: design is secondary to ease of use and fast loading. Not the other way round. Imagine a person getting online for the first time and who needs the information contained in the website. Or a busy commuter, who must find out the information before the next train stop. These are the people who will most probably access the website, not an art critic from the Metropolitan Museum.

2. Let’s Have a Nice Welcome Page

How about we ditch it? It is a pointless appendix from time long gone, when multi-lingual websites first appeared and users were invited to select their language. Today we integrate language selection on every page of the site, as a discreet drop-down menu at the top of the page.

These days, people decide whether they stay on a web page in a couple of seconds. If all they see on the main screen is a pointless language selector, they will move on.

3. You Can Never Have Enough Flash, Right?

Wrong. With HTML5, Flash has become obsolete and burdensome. It takes up a lot of hosting space, loads slowly and is no longer a novelty to keep people watching as if it’s the latest Academy Award winning movie. No matter how entertaining, a Flash animation is not the reason why someone visits the site. When was the last time you heard “I bookmarked this site, it has such a cool Flash intro”? Exactly…never.

4. Muted Colors Are Classy

Not when the text is white and the background pearl gray and you can barely read anything. Low contrast is not good and it is not classy. If you have to squint your eyes to read the text, then the main functionality of the website – to inform – is lost. Pass the readability mark, and then think of artistic effects.

5. Let’s Make a New Page Order

People are used to seeing certain things in certain places. The company logo top left side of the screen, the navigating menu as horizontal tabs and the Disclaimer and Terms of Service at the bottom of the page. These basic functionalities were tried and tested by various algorithms related to people’s visual fields and focus points. Do not try to reinvent this simple order. It is not something that will get you remembered by.

6. Tag Cloud Looks Hi-Tech

Tag cloud is also pointless. No one ever spent time clicking through key words. If people are interested in a certain item on the website, they will type it in the Search box. So, you could serve both your art and website functionality much better by designing a catchy, easy to use Search box.

7. The Invasion of the Stock Photos

Some stock photos are so frequently used, that viewers can immediately identify from what website they were purchased. This is design suicide. It’s one thing to include a few tasteful graphic vectors – such as the ones you can find in our e-shop – and it’s another thing to turn your design into an advertisement for stock photos.

There is one single advice we have for all graphic designers: moderation, consideration of who uses your design and the realization that you get paid for a product, not the showcasing of your ego, will help you avoid these deadly web design sins.

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Ionut B
Digital Art Director with an innovative creative thinking able to translate ideas and concepts into useful and memorable interactive marketing campaigns.

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