The holidays are here again, so it’s time for more helpful advice inspired by a Christmas carol. So instead of thinking about the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” let’s look at the “Twelve Don’ts of Websites.” Pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate, and read on to see how your website fares!
1. Don’t use animation just because you can.
Remember the early days of the web, complete with its flying toasters, opening and closing mailboxes, and peek-a-boo eyes? We put lots of animation on our sites because we could, not because we should. Fast forward 15 years later. If you still have this stuff, get rid of it. We’ve grown up a little.
2. Don’t automatically play sound on your website.
It can be shocking and annoying, so if your website has sound, allow the user to control it.
3. Don’t use splash pages.
Those annoying Flash intro pages to a website—like a short animated movie that plays before you see the actual website—are quickly dying. Thank goodness! Not only are they so five years ago, they interfere with your search engine visibility, hurting your chances of ranking well. If you still have one of these, it’s not too soon to dump it!
4. Don’t cram too much content on any one page.
Yes, people don’t mind scrolling vertically, but there are limits. Each of the pages on your website should have one purpose and/or make one point. Stick to it. If something doesn’t fit, cut it, or give it its own page.
5. Don’t make your website visitors scroll horizontally.
People don’t mind scrolling up and down on websites, but generally, they hate scrolling side to side. Well-designed websites can avoid this.
6. Don’t use images for text.
Some people like to make images to display written text on their websites rather than using real text. They do this because images look just like they want them to, and they can use pretty fonts. The problem is that search engines can’t read images, so you lose any SEO benefits in the text.
7. Don’t ignore legibility.
Your website visitors need to read your site’s text in order to take action. Make sure that fonts are large enough, simple to read, and contrasted well from their backgrounds.
8. Don’t make your website complicated.
Ever been on a website where you just want to find a phone number, buy a product, look for an address…but no matter where you look, you can’t figure it out? Know what your site visitors are looking for, and make it easy to find.
9. Don’t assume all your website visitors use one browser.
There are so many different web browsers—Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari—as well as all sorts of mobile options. Test your website to be sure it works in different situations. You might be turning away customers from a broken website you don’t even know about!
10. Don’t publish your email address anywhere on any website.
If you love getting tons of spam, ignore this rule.
11. Don’t forget your customers.
So many times, it’s easy to get wrapped up in promoting your website and making changes to it that you forget that it’s there for your customers. The overall goal of your website is most likely to gain business, so every change you make should be for that purpose…not to trick the search engines.
12. Don’t be something you’re not.
Most of all, your website has a better chance to succeed if you remain true to yourself. Keep focused on your mission. Know what you enjoy. Do what you love, and you’ll keep at it for the long term.