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Common Website Design Mistakes

It has pretty much become essential these days for a dance or history group that wants to be found to have a website. Since most of these groups don't happen to have a web designer among their members, they have to do the best they can, and, unfortunately, many if not most, make a lot of mistakes.

As someone who actually makes a living at web design, and also as someone who has, personally, made a lot of the same mistakes, here are a few pointers I would like to offer on web design.

Common mistakes:

Text on a background: The web allows you to put a wallpaper style design behind your web page. I would suggest you refrain. Some backgrounds, like those that suggest parchment, are fine but never put a pattern behind your text. You can never go wrong however, with white background and black text. Keep it simple.

A music clip that plays automatically: Don't do it. It makes your page load slower, and the dark secret about the web is that a majority of your visitors are visiting from WORK. If your viewer is living in Cubistan, it will be a problem if he loads a page and subjects all his fellow cube dwellers to a clip from a Strauss waltz on a continuous loop. What he will do is hit the "back" button as soon as he hears the music, and you will lose a visitor. Keep it simple.

Animated Images: It's all very cute to have people dancing on a dance oriented website, but remember that people are, genetically, predators and prey. Our eyes are attracted by movement. If you have an animation on your website, that is what people will be drawn to, and they won't see the other stuff on your site. Animations can be used strategically, and aren't always a mistake, but unless you are really clear on the subtle pros and cons of animation on the web, steer clear. Of course, the worst is multiple animations. Then your visitors REALLY don't know where to look. Keep it simple.

Too many images: Images are important, but they need to be used strategically. Unless the page is actually a photo gallery or some other sort of list (which your "home page" should not be), then a good rule of thumb is one, perhaps two, and no more, unless the image is part of your logo. Keep it simple.

Images that are not optimized for the web: The number one rookie mistake is taking an image from a digital camera, pasting it into Front Page, and then clicking on the lower right hand corner and shrinking it to size. When you do that, you haven't actually made your image smaller. You have just made it denser. It will still take just as long to load, and an average uncompressed camera image could take as long as two minutes to load for someone on a dail up connection. Have mercy!

All web images should have a resolution of 72 dpi (Dots per Inch) and be sized to the actual size they will be on the page. You should open them in an image editor like Photoshop Elements, and then experiment with different sizes. You will probably find that your image will work best, depending on your design, if it is between 2 and 4 inches wide.

That's enough to start. I will go into more details in future posts.

Related posts:
More Web Design: The Power of Boringness