How to Avoid Common Web Design Errors - dummies

By Bud E. Smith

When you are designing your own Web page, you want to create attractive pages that load quickly so your visitors keep coming back. Of the many design mistakes you can make, three of the most common among new Web-page creators are creating slow-loading pages, and using ugly color combinations, and small text.

Slow-loading pages

If a page of yours loads slowly, check to see whether you’re committing one of two major errors:

  • Including large graphics files: An uncompressed screen image of a page at 1024 x 768 resolution is over 2 MB in size and takes about 8 minutes to load on a dialup connection.

  • A profligate use of graphics in general: Pages with lots of little graphical elements can cause many separate file transfers as the page loads.

Keep the use of graphics on your page simple until you get really good at designing with graphics, or until you can get help from someone who has that particular talent.

Ugly color combinations

Just because the Web makes it possible to use various color combinations doesn’t mean you should do so. Black text on a white or off-white background is easy to read. And with this combination, the standard link colors show up well. You can use a graphical bar on the page and add one or two useful or interesting graphics per page to give your Web pages a colorful, graphical look without sacrificing predictability and readability within the body of each page.

Some users run their monitors in 256-color mode and that displays only 216 colors out of the 256. So a color combination that looks good on your system may look poor on a system with fewer colors; likewise, colors that look good on a PC may not look so hot on a Mac. Use Web-safe colors.

Small text (and large text, too)

A common mistake people make is to use small text on their Web pages, packed closely together. Small text does look kind of cool, and it allows you to pack in a lot of information. The trouble is that small text becomes very small text when viewed on a high-resolution monitor and people who visit your Web site may not be able to read the text on your page.

Less common, but equally harmful, is text that’s too large. You don’t need to design Web pages with text that’s readable from 20 feet away. Large text looks awful, especially when viewed on a system with relatively low resolution (such as 800 x 600 pixels).

Both of these problems are made worse by the increasing tendency to embed much of a site’s text in graphic images.

Compare your site’s text size to other sites’ and ask several people of varying ages tell you if they can easily read the text while sitting a couple of feet from the computer monitor. If not, fix the problem.