Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2003

Jacob Nielsen has posted his annual round up of what’s being done wrong on the web.

Actually, many of the problems he highlights are fairly minor, so if this is his list of consistent worst offenders, then the web is becoming a much more useable and accessible place.

Anyway, in a similar vein, here’s my own top ten list of common web design mistakes/annoyances (in no particular order):

1. Grey Text

It’s harder to read than black. Period.

2. Generic Stock Art

There are still lots of sites that are still using versions of the “smiling lady” / “smiling lady on the phone” stock art. Please stop it. It doesn’t give your site a personality injection.

3. Unintuitive Ecommerce Sites

There are still way too many (big name) ecommerce sites that are hard to navigate through. I hate it when I actually want to give a site my money and I can’t because I can’t find what I want to buy.

4. Small Default Text Size

Added to this is setting text size in pixels so that visitors can’t resize it.

5. Slow Loading Sites

I’m on broadband and there are sites that take too long to load. You know I do when this happens (90%+ of the time)? Go somewhere else.

There are just too many ways to make your site load quickly not to be doing this by now.

6. Unnecessary Use of Multimedia / Flash

The web is still a place where people primarily read to get information (Why? Because you can scan and quickly see if the page you’re on has what you need).

I would say that it is likely to remain so for some years to come. If I want to watch TV, I’ll turn on the TV set. If I want to find information, I’ll read it on the web.

7. Too Many Required Fields on Forms

I don’t want to give you my information and get even more spam. Forms should only require that I submit the absolute information needed.

Hell, I may even provide some real extra info instead of the junk I type in when forms ask me for unnecessary details.

8. Using Images for Content

Using images rather than real text to present blocks of content makes the content harder to read, impossible to copy and paste, and less accessible (it’s generally not accompanied by a descriptive tag).

9. Uninformative Page Titles

Sites still often just put their company name here. Descriptive page titles are an essential tool for sites to drive traffic from search engines. Waste them at your peril.

10. Not Designing for Both Search Engines and Human Visitors

There’s too much on this subject to write anything meaningful here, except to say that successful web sites are optimized for both audiences. I see missed opportunities all over the web.