7 Mistakes Web Designers Make. pt2

Continuing on from the previous post about frequent mistakes we as designers spot on websites when surfing. We don’t spot them on purpose, we don’t set out to pick holes in other people’s work, it just happens. Just like a car salesman checking out the traffic when he is stuck at the lights, it’s in our blood.
So in the last post we covered four of the seven. They were browser inconsistencies, confusing messages, not having a clear idea of the client’s needs and designs that use Flash when they shouldn’t.
So the fifth mistake, and one of my pet peeves is a search function that doesn’t work properly. If you want to include a search function on a website, make sure it works properly. The more barriers there are between the user and the information they want, the less likely they are to stick around to find it. Poor search results are a classic example of this. If you code your own, make sure you test it thoroughly, otherwise use something like Google’s Custom Search Engine. Nothing is more familiar to users than the big G.
Number six, and an all too familiar one is the use of poor quality images. There really is no excuse for this one. Graphics and images are so prevalent on the internet now that you should be able to find something suitable. There is a plethora of free stock photo sites, graphics repositories and other sources of images for a design. Or, if you really want to, you can make your own. If you have a graphic artist on staff, or know of one then you should always leverage the original.
Using original images is the ideal way to make the design stand out from the crowd. The same with photographs. Stock photos are all very well, but they have the potential to have been used thousands of times. If you can source your own, original pictures the site stands a much higher chance of making an impact.
When you have an image, make sure that it’s formatted and resized properly. There are way too many poorly manipulated images around, and there are plenty of free tools if you don’t have Photoshop.
The last web design annoyance as far as we’re concerned is URLs that make no sense. This is becoming an increasingly popular problem with the advent of CMS like WordPress who default to a dynamic URL structure. They do however have the option to be reconfigured to make sense.
A URL should always be meaningful, especially if you have even half an eye on SEO. Including a keyword in the URL is worth a lot of points in an SEO campaign. It adds quite a bit to the optimization as a whole, if not on its own.
Seven is something of an odd number, but a nice word. I’m sure there are plenty of other web design faux pas that we could think of, but nothing else springs to mind at the moment. These should be enough food for thought for now.