Fugly Fashions for Your Website

Good Web Design vs Bad Web Design

If there’s one thing that’s more striking than good web design, it’s bad web design. Good design is sometimes breathtaking, but more often it’s unobtrusive, because not everything needs to rely on razzle-dazzle. Just look at the insistently clean interface of Google’s front page, or even the busier Facebook (whose simple blue-on-white probably helped it kill the garish Myspace). The first requirement of good web design is the absence of bad web design. Here are four faux pas you want to avoid:

1. The Font Fiasco

Good Web Design with IPad Air For a long time, web fonts were limited to a handful (Arial, Times, Courier) that were chosen because they would consistently appear on any browser running on any OS. This state of affairs has resulted largely from the proprietary legal status of many fonts, which foundries are highly protective of. Nowadays, the world of typography is starting to open up for webmasters with services like Type kit and Google Web Fonts.

Unfortunately, this also has the effect of unleashing a Pandora’s box full of tackiness and excess for the inexperienced graphic designer. Font choices must be thought through carefully, and matched for both aesthetics and legibility. The bottom line is that if you’re using more than two of them, you are probably overdoing it. Also, Papyrus is the new Comic Sans; use it and people will judge you with maximum snark.

2. The Casino Shakedown

For many website owners (who are not selling another product), monetizing your website through advertising is key. Watching those precious pennies add up through Google AdSense can be addictive, and your eyes might flash dollar signs like Scrooge McDuck. Still, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

You don’t want your users to open your page and be bombarded with a zillion blinking bedazzled banners, pop-ups, pop-unders, expandable video ads, pictures of bikini models, and “Congratulations, You Have Just WON a New iPad!” No, I haven’t, and I now hate your website for being spammy.

3. Speaker Check, 1-2, 1-2

You should pretty much NEVER have audio, music, or video with sound that automatically plays when your page is opened. This drives users absolutely crazy and they will penalize you by avoiding your website whenever possible. It is extremely embarrassing if it happens in a public place like work, a library, or a cafe. Even if the user is at home, if the last thing they did with their computer was rock out to some loud music, your audio file will coming blast through the speakers and they’ll jump out of their skin. Always give people the option to hit ‘play’ or not.

4. The Dead Sea (of Text) Scroll

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is trying to cram too much text onto one page. This recently kept me from going to lunch at Indian buffet near my office — like, isn’t this an overly complicated set of rules and information for a restaurant? I felt like I was reading a legal contract or an instruction manual.

The internet term of art here is TL;DR (for “too long; didn’t read”). That’s what your users will think if you make them scroll too much. Also, unless you have some really well-designed and clever graphic design concept behind it, NEVER make people scroll horizontally.

That’s it for our roundup of “don’ts” — so now that you know what not to do, you can start concentrating on what will make your website stand out. Hint: it’s not WordArt or an animated GIF.