According to the Urban Dictionary, “fail” is the term for anything that’s — to put it lightly — very bad. Since the current form was born on the Internet, it makes it especially relevant (and embarrassing) for all those ill-trained web designers and their website “fails.” While the web design fail is common, it’s not unfixable. Find out what to look for when it comes to terrible designs and how to fix the “fails.”
1. Fail: Cluttered Layout
From overstuffed, unpadded layout tables to parallax designs that feature an overwhelming amount of graphics and transitions, a cluttered layout can haunt even the most well-intentioned web design. More than their nauseating look, cluttered layouts impact findability — this can keep visitors from vital navigation links and more.
Fix: “Whitespace” — use it wisely and often. This means choosing your words and your images sparingly. Your content, no matter what the media, should be succinct and easy-to-scan; e.g., for text, make use of header tags to label and break up long landing page paragraphs.
2. Fail: Impossible Accessibility
Design fails are not just aesthetically displeasing; they hinder usability, as well. Low-accessibility sites often include harsh or poor contrast, small text, improperly sized images, and non-responsive templates (those that don’t adjust to meet screen size).
Fix: Test the site with different types of users. Ask people young and old, near- and far-sighted, etc. to review your site’s content. Sometimes a project needs a second set of eyes to show you what’s out of focus — literally. Give careful consideration to those elements that testers find frustrating and do your best to adjust them. Sure, black and red may be your favorite color combo, but that doesn’t mean you need to impose it as background and text tones in that order.
3. Fail: Overwhelming Intros
That “ENTER” page? Yeah, it’s overindulgent. You may think the snappy HTML5 animation is intriguing, but your users have better things to do then contemplate your experimental art project. Add to that, most splash pages don’t include a clear path to the home page and you have yet another design fail.
Fix: Skip the splash page — simple as that. Your “Home” page should always be your index page. It’s a policy that’s not only good for design, but SEO (search engine optimization), as well. Search engines can better crawl your site if keyword-driven content is included on the main, index page.
4. Fail: Too Many Design Styles
Sometimes the biggest website sin happens when a designer goes overboard on trends. Perhaps he or she mixes flat design with other elements including drop shadow or 3D effect. Or maybe a single parallax page links to 15 unique pop-up sites. Whatever the monitor mashup, it’s likely destined for disaster.
Fix: Choose timeless layouts whenever possible and incorporate new trends sparingly. Remember, what’s hot this year, may be as cold as your generation one iPhone the next. The best way to ensure a classic look is to build on a basic template that features responsive, usable attributes.
What Makes a Good Website?
Good design is more than the sum of a website’s looks. It’s the content inside that counts. Strategic user experience development marries design and accessibility with useful information. Although these fails focus mostly on artistry, don’t discount the other ways your site may disappoint its visitors.