3 - DON'T With Web Design
Posted in the Web Design Forum
Since: Mar 10
#1 Oct 29, 2012
1. Don't distract your visitors with blinking or scrolling text, animated GIFs, or auto-loading sound.
Animation and sounds are distracting. How can anyone concentrate on reading what's on your site when there are things flying around the page? It's like trying to read a newspaper when someone's poking you in the shoulder repeatedly. Also, visitors who have slow connections may resent that you wasted their time by forcing them to load animations and sound files against their will.(If you think that every has fast connections these days, think of the thousands of people at hotels, who are all sharing the same connection.)
2. Don't annoy your visitors with pop-up windows.
Nobody likes popups. Here again, the only reason a site would have popups is because the site owner is thinking of his/her own interests rather than the readers. We all know that when we're browsing we hate popups, but suddenly when we switch hats and become the site owner, we lose our ability to see through the users' eyes. So let's remember to put ourselves in their shoes. Which of these reactions to popups is a visitor is more likely to have?
(a) "A popup window, oh goody! I love sites with popups! I will make certain to bookmark this site and visit often. I will also certainly click the ad or links in the popup because I love them so much."
(b) "@#&$! Whoever made this website obviously has no respect for me as a visitor. When I leave here I will never come back."
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3. Don't use put text over image backgrounds.
Text over image backgrounds scream "amateur", because it's mostly amateurish sites that use them. Quick, can you name a single professional, respected site that uses image backgrounds behind the text? Not Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, the New York Times, Webmaster World, or any others.
One reason that text over backgrounds scream "low quality" is because sites that use them are often user-hostile in many other ways as well. For example, when I visited a site recently and saw that they used an image background, I wasn't surprised to find that the site also has extremely slow page-loading times, internal links that pop up into brand-new windows, links that are the exact same color as the surrounding text, cheap animated GIFs, blatant keyword stuffing, and numerous embarrassing misspellings.[As further proof, I had to remove my link to that site from this article, because they went out of business.]
Unfortunately, just as people were finally starting to clue in to the fact that background images behind text are cheap and garish, along came MySpace to repopularize a bad idea. It's not surprising that MySpace is a poster child for bad design in other ways, with obtrusive advertising, force-loading music, distracting animations, and super-slow-loading pages. I'm not the only one who feels that way. Here's how the world-famous Dan Piraro put it: "Badly designed, impossible to navigate, ugly, loud, depressing, reeking of death. How did this beast that is eating the fabric of our civilization and puking it up on the shoes of our future achieve such popularity?"
But back to image backgrounds, another problem with them is that they take longer to load. One site I checked had a whopping 144k image background. Its home page takes sixteen times as long to load as the one you're reading now — even though it has far less useful information.
That said, image backgrounds are fine if you know what you're doing. They can work if you make sure the contrast is very high (e.g. August Marketing), or you don't put any text over them (e.g., Flowers in Frames).
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