People have a saying in the music industry “Everyone is a DJ”. The same is true on the web: “Everyone is a Web Designer”. People think that web designing is easy. They just pull up Adobe Dreamweaver, put together a few elements in blocks (or even worse, tables…), set a few background colors and call the end result web design.
This is, of course, not true. Today, we’ll look at some of the most common misconceptions about web design.
1. Anyone can do it
If you ask your neighbor who knows something about computers to create a website for your business, he might be able to do it, but what he’d do is definitely not web design.
If you can mock up a website in programs like Dreamweaver, Xara Web Designer, etc., then congratulations! But that’s not web design.
Web design is an art of crafting websites guided by certain principles such as information architecture, user interface design, typography, colors, fonts, etc. One needs all these skills to do it right.
2. Users don’t (like to) scroll down
In 1994, when the web was new, they didn’t. Now they do. They do so much that Apple killed the scroll bar everywhere in the Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion“ operating system in 2011.
Also, a data research from 2006 (that is eight years old already!) shows that from 120.000 page views, 76% of the users did scroll down to some extinct, and 22% of the users scrolled down all the way to the bottom of the page.
These are just 2 facts, and there are dozens more. Don’t shrink your website to a height of 550-600 pixels. Your users will scroll down if you get their attention!
If you want to read more on scrolling down, don’t miss the article Life below 600px.
3. Fill all the empty space
Don’t. Whitespace (or negative space) has a very important role. It is present on a page either on purpose (active whitespace) or is created implicitly by the surrounding elements.
Whitespace is a fundamental building block of a well-crafted website. It creates attention, makes the design easier to scan and consume.
See how well Apple is using whitespace on their pages?
Now, of course, whitespace doesn’t need to be white at all. See the example of Over.
Don’t fill in every single corner of your website. It will never, ever look good without proper whitespace.
4. Everything should stand out
One of the common typographic misconceptions in web design is that everything needs to be bold. Yeah, we put content on our websites because they have to stand out. But there are other ways to do it right.
You can use proper typography instead. Try a different font family, play with font sizes, experiment with using different colors, casing or letter-spacing. Oh, and did I ever tell you about using whitespace?
If everything stands out, nothing will stand out!
5. The “Make the logo bigger” syndrome
One of my personal favorites, the Make the logo bigger syndrome. Logos are the first thing your customers will see on your website, their attention should then go towards your navigation or the content.
After they learn your website and get used to where things are, they won’t ever look at your logo again. Don’t force them to do so by making your logo bigger than it should be.
And now, check out the “make the logo bigger” song!
6. Websites should look the same in all browsers
No. Different browsers render websites differently. This is mainly because web browsers use different engines to display websites. And we have to accept this. Furthermore, you can never make your website look perfectly (100,00%) the same in every single browser out there! Or can you?
Please read more about websites needed to look the same in all browsers at DoWebsitesNeedToLookExactlyTheSameInEveryBrowser.com!
7. Justified paragraphs
Many people (talking about clients here) read books. They read justified text there, which makes reading print easier. But it’s not true on the web.
Browser engines render fonts differently. It’s a huge problem when one browser can fit that one last word onto the end of the line, while another browser breaks it down to the next line, therefore possibly created “rivers” in the text. This can never be a problem when you use left-aligned text.
As you can read on Arts Assistance: Content is king – readability is the bomb. See how easier the left-hand side text block is to read?
As the W3C Standards Committee stated:
“Many people with cognitive disabilities have a great deal of trouble with blocks of text that are justified (aligned to both the left and the right margins). The spaces between words create ‘rivers of white’ running down the page, which can make the text difficult for some people to read. This failure describes situations where this confusing text layout occurs. The best way to avoid this problem is not to create text layout that is fully justified.”
You heard the Gods of the web, just don’t do it.
8. Stuff our paragraphs with keywords
Keyword stuffing they call it, and it’s bad. No matter what your “clever” clients think, it is a strictly black-hat tactic, and can easily get your site banned from search engines.
Sure, you need some keywords, so here’s the deal: the adequate keyword density you should consider is 2-5%.
Also, make sure you don’t use the same keyword over and over again, use long-tail keyword variations instead!
9. We need a splash page
Or should we call it a Flash intro? A splash page is an added page before users can reach your site, requiring them to click on a button or a link to continue. There are still many clients who think that a cool Flash-based introductory page will excite customers about their website.
We must know that on the Internet, we have a maximum of 15 seconds to earn our users attention, and a splash page is not going to do that. What will do, however, is our actual content.
Furthermore, by not having a dumb splash page, we can nicely reduce our bounce rate!
10. Let’s Google for images to use
You can never know what image you’ll download from search engine results. There are a huge number of copyrighted material on the internet which you shouldn’t (and you mustn’t) use. Believe me, the last thing you want is to pay a fine for copyright infringement.
Instead, buy a subscription at a professional online stock photo library like Shutterstock or iStockPhoto, and pay that humble $9,99 for a professional photo. There are also free stock photo websites such as SXC.
And to sum it all up…
I would like to introduce you to the Make My Logo Bigger Cream, the Whitespace Eliminator, and the Starburst Dust. You’ll thank me later. ;)
I hope you guys had some fun but also learned something with this article. Please share it with friends with the social buttons just below.