Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design

Since the advent of the World Wide Web, marketers have struggled with how best to engage customers and prospects in the new digital world. Usability labs became quite popular in the 1990’s when human behavior was changing rapidly in response to this new communications medium. Jakob Nielsen ran one of these labs and is now often called the “king of usability.” This year, he updates his “Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design” list. Here are some of the top no-no’s for 2007.

1. Bad Search: If you have a lot of content on your site (and we highly recommend that you do in order to sell products and services to CXO’s, technical managers, or engineers and scientists), you may need a site search engine. The problem is, most site search engines are weak – unable to handle typos, plurals, hyphens, and unable to prioritize results based on the document’s importance vs simply reacting to the number of query terms each document contains. If you’re going to add site search, test it thoroughly and make sure it delivers relevant results. Otherwise, focus your efforts on reworking your site navigation so it’s easier to move through the information.

2. PDF Files for Online Reading: To this day, switching from an HMTL page to a PDF is not seamless. It breaks the site visitor’s flow and is hard to navigate. Make PDF files optional.

3. Not Changing the Color of Visited Links: OK, this one drives me crazy. When I’ve finally found a site with good information that I’m willing to invest time in, I need to know what I’ve already looked at. Change the link colors so visitors don’t get disoriented, frustrated, and, inevitably, walk away.

4. Non-Scannable Text: People interact with copy on a screen differently than on paper. Don’t use walls of text. Break things up with bolded items, bullet lists, and short paragraphs.

5. Anything That Looks Like an Advertisement: As a communications medium becomes more familiar to its target audience, the more immune they become to the advertising within it. Magazine readers often skip right over small and large ads. Television viewers use TIVO and bathroom breaks to avoid commercials. And so it goes with the web. If it looks and smells like an ad, your site visitors will ignore it, whether it’s a banner or flashing text or pop-up windows. You need to find a way to integrate your message in a credible and educational manner throughout the web site. Otherwise, no one will pay attention.

Your web site is to crucial to not take seriously. Read the full list at “Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design.”

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