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Ten Common Mistakes of Web Design in 2008

1. Crappy form designs.

One of the biggest turn offs for any user is forms! Cut down on extra fields; let the user fill them later in his profile if he wishes to not right in the first go! Highlight clearly the optional and required fields. Also mention the privacy policy you follow. This builds up user trust and experience.
A very good article you must see here.
Read a very good pdf here.

2. Overdone layouts. Confusion while choosing between fluid and fixed.

Simplicity is the key to gaining pleasant user experience. Do not complicate simple tasks such as contact, navigation, products/services, and login. Choose the right experience – flash / static pages / dynamic or a CMS?

Also another very important aspect usually neglected is choosing between fluid vs fixed layout. Usually a content rich site is fluid and a personal/corporate site goes well with a fixed layout. Judge carefully what YOU can pull off!
CSS Layouts – http://layouts.ironmyers.com/

3. Inconsistent color schema, color palette undefined.

Uneven use of colors gives a disturbed user experience. A website should reflect an integrated environment and different sections of the site should belong to the same family. Keep your logo as the most important standpoint of your site and follow a strict color palette.
Life can be simple using http://www.colorlovers.com , http://www.kuler.adobe.com

4. Unreadable and cluttered text.

Brilliant content, great design but cluttered typography! Typography can make or break your entire site. Select carefully the font and their sizes for various headings, tags, paragraph text. Font size should never go below 9px-10px. This is the effective threshold for human readability. Use white spaces around text for better readability and composure.
Fall in love with TEXT @ http://www.ilovetypography.com

5. Separating SEO from Design and Development.

A lot of times design, dev and SEO are seen as three different phases all together. I believe that SEO has to begin right with the design and development. For eg: Using appropriate Image names, Use of [h1] tags effectively so on and so forth. Give due importance to it while laying out your project plan.
Loads to learn @ http://www.forums.digitalpoint.com

6. No browser and resolutions compatibility.

This is the biggest pain that a designer or a developer has to go through. Call it the ‘Labour pain of Web –Design!’
IE inherently does not support a lot of CSS and JavaScript’s hacks making our lives complicated. With no good parallel for ‘firebug’ extension on other browsers consistency goes for a toss. Also make sure to test the site in wide screen monitors. During development make sure you have the site tested on top 4 browsers and top 6 resolutions. Avoid ignoring sets of users based on your clever understanding of site analytics!

Try using IE developer toolbox.

7. Trying hard to be web 2.0 and user generated content.

I really wonder if we all need so much of so called user generated content at every other place. Be very clear why UGC on your portal / site is required. Never succumb to it just because everybody else is doing it. Also certain ‘web 2.0ish’ fundas don’t really go well with what you want to communicate at times!
On a lighter note, excellent example of effective site with no web 2.0 – http://www.indianrail.gov.in

8.Design Imbalance due to uneven flow of layout.

Subtle yet important! A design has to be balanced and consistent. The icons, typography, navigation, interactions and all other elements need to ‘belong’. Simple things like use same Font Family, a same icon family, use of CSS based forms etc.
Try not to use extra icons and graphics just because they were offered free!
MindBlowing stuff @ http://www.smashingmagazine.com & http://www.cssbeauty.com

9. Whitespaces hamper effective space utilization.

One of my favorite things in design is white spaces. The more of it the more focus on the things that you want to communicate to your target user! Clarity is evident around white spaces.
A must thing to adopt in any design is space and minimalist approach.

10. ‘Beta’ used as an excuse for bad user experience.

Don’t kill me for this. But give it a thought. Why is beta used so damn commonly used?? For a certain period of initial launch I completely agree but anything more than that becomes an excuse!
Eg: Google did that with GMAIL!
Avoid ‘Extended’ Beta tags to gain user trust is what I would say.

The above points do have exception at places but that definitely happens after getting few basic things right. Enjoy designing the user experience and allow your creativity to try new never before things!

The author also blogs at http://www.netbramha.com

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