Designing websites & blogs is tricky. And designing your blogs on your own & avoiding the common design mistakes is very difficult if not impossible.
For 2 reasons : One, you have so much information to share, and so little place to put it so that they all appear in front of the reader at once. Two, there are so many softwares, tools & functionalities available to a designer, and most of them free, that you find it hard to choose one & eliminate 2 others.
In this post, I shall share my experience in creating very simple yet effective blogs & websites. Sure there are no golden rules but there are things that you should do to make your blogs & websites work effective for you with minimal problems.
This is extremely relevant to you if you are setting up your own internet enterprise from scratch or you are re-doing or re-branding your own web sites or blogs. You have to know & avoid the top 5 design mistakes that most people make!
Choosing what to share & what to use to share on your blogs & sites are where we make mistakes in designing our blogs & websites. More often we choose the wrong softwares, tools or functionalities & eliminate the essential ones.
The tricky portion in designing your blog or website is to have a balanced combination of what & how you want to show (the layout & cosmetics of web designing) & what tools & softwares to use to show them.
So here are the top 5 mistakes that designers make. Note that they are “top 5″ because they occur very frequently. They are also in the “top 5 design mistakes” because all of them impact your blog’s effectiveness.
This is a cosmetic design mistake. Colors have to be soothing to the eye & have to allow readers to see & read your content, view your charts & click on appropriate places.
Suggestion : Here is a good tip from Godaddy on using complementary colors in your design. The second point is the choice of fonts – choose simple & elegant fonts. Size usually varies from 11 to 13 & the best color for fonts is black or a deep shade of gray on a white (or off white) back ground.
We are tempted to showing pictures, buttons, icons & banners. Apart from distraction, these images could slow down your blog & website. Image files often do not include the “ALT” tag so that if any of the images do not show up, your blog would appear to have a scar from the missing picture.
Suggestion : Optimize your design to have the minimum images. When you are using images, use a tool like Adobe Photoshop to create image files of minimum sizes (usually around 40 – 60 K for 800 x 200 banners). Practice using the ALT tag for all images & putting a description. These descriptions also help your images being indexed by Google & other search engine.
Suggestion : Again, here, I suggest to be minimalist. Use only the essential plugins. Keep RSS feeds to the minimum. You could show your burnt RSS feeds for a little for stability. I have seen that JQuery usually takes a long time to load. So using J Query functions like Tabs, could slow the loading of your blog on the browser.
Most ads are served real time. So when someone types your blog’s URL, the page shows up & the ads on the page may not load as fast. This often causes other features of your blog to show up slowly too. For example, your CSS stylesheet will slow down if your ads take a long time to display. Again, if you have multiple pop-ups or pop-under ads, they would slow your visitors browser & could often crash them. Interstitial ads, that open up during page transitions, often slow down or even crash browsers.
Suggestion : Number & types of ads displayed depend on how much revenue you plan to generate. But refrain from using more than 2 pop-unders. Google for example, has worked our a measurement that if their ad providers take longer than a certain time to show up, they will not display those ads.
Too much of content could ruin the readability of the blog. And mixing up content, advertisements & sales offers could take the important away from the key message of your blog. Even important features, like your subscription requests, your latest offerings & your value proposition could be lost among a cluttered blog layout. The visitor will either not know what you are trying to say, or will not find what they came to look for.
Suggestions : I always suggest to group contents in logical & business sequence. Everyone of your visitor has a train of thought. If you layout follows that general train of thought, your essential contents & your key messages will be well delivered. It is not always how much you put in there, but how do you bring that forward to your reader, that makes sense. I also recommend creating a site index in case your blog is going to contain too varied information or too much information. The above 5 are the most common mistakes I have seen that webmasters & bloggers make while designing their blogs or websites. My years of experience in helping new bloggers & start-up websites tell me that the most effective & successful website / blog would be neat & clean, non-threatening to the visitor & display your key, focused messages reinforced with testimonials.