The Most Deadly Mistakes in Website Design

 Avoid these gaffes, and your site will be far better than much of the competition.

1. Disabling the back button. Evil site authors long ago figured out how to break a browser’s back button so that when a user pushes it, one of several undesired things happen: There’s an immediate redirect to an unwanted location, the browser stays put because the “back” button has been deactivated, or a new window pops up and overtakes the screen.

2. Opening new windows. Once upon a time, using multiple new frames to display content as a user clicked through a site was cool–a new thing in web design. Now it only annoys viewers because it ties up system resources, slows computer response and generally complicates a visitor’s experience.

3. Failing to put a phone number and address in several easy-to-find locations. If you’re selling, you need to offer viewers multiple ways to contact you. The smartest route is to put up a “Contact Us” link that leads to complete info–mailing address, phone and email address. That link should be on each and every page of your website. Even if nobody ever calls, the very presence of this information adds real-world legitimacy and transparency to your site and comforts some viewers.

4. Broken links. Bad links–hyperlinks that do nothing when clicked or lead to “404” error pages–are the bane of any web surfer. Test your site–and do it weekly–to ensure that all links work as promised. Include a “Contact the Webmaster” link in your site’s footer so users can quickly let you know if they find a broken link or other mistake on your site–and fix those errors immediately.

5. Slow server times. Slow load times are inexcusable with professional sites — it’s an invitation to the visitor to click away.

6. Outdated information. Again, there’s no excuse, but it’s amazing how many sites include old, dated content. Make sure to keep your site fresh and updated daily for best results. You can’t afford the loss of credibility that can come from having dated content. Also, make sure your content is accurate, and if you should find a single error, fix it immediately.

7. Poor navigation. The internet promises speed. If surfers can’t figure out where to go next quickly and get there easily, they’ll simply surf on to the next website–your competitor’s!

8. Too many font styles and colors. Pages ought to present a unified, consistent look, but novice site builders–entranced by having hundreds of fonts at their fingertips, plus dozens of colors–frequently turn their pages into a garish mishmash. Use two or three fonts and colors per page, maximum.

9. Orphan pages. Memorize this: Every page in your site needs a readily seen link back to the home page. Sometimes users will forward a URL to friends, who may visit and may want more information. But if the page they get is a dead end, forget it.

10. Failing to link with your social network sites. Most businesses have their own Facebook pages, others use Pinterest with boards full of photos, while some broadcast their latest activities on Twitter. The point is that social media is here to stay and businesses are benefitting from having a presence in it. Forgetting to link to your social media platforms is a big no-no. People should be able to go from one to the other effortlessly.