Web design mistakes that can be fixed (unlike spilled milk)

5 Web design fails (and how to fix 'em)

Good Web design is important for success online, but big companies implement bad design all the time. So, if you've been struggling to design a site then we can help you avoid some big mistakes.

Above all else, a clean, fast, responsive and lightweight theme is almost always the best option. And, using a top Website builder means you can avoid all these issues at the click of a button - without having to learn HTML and CSS.

So here are five sites doing things badly and earning themselves a spot in our top 5 list of bad Web designs...

1. Madame Zingara

Madame Zingara uses a heavy flash based, slow design

Heavy & slow Flash site that won't load for target audience in South Africa

The designers of Madame Zingara's (who run Bohemian style restaurants) website bought into the brand of Bohemian whimsy, and created a magical and beautiful browsing experience...

  1. in Flash
  2. without any way to access a lightweight HTML version
  3. in a country with notoriously slow Internet

So the site may be full of wonder, but 90% of visitors will never find out because they need to make dinner reservations before nightfall.

The fix: Avoid heavy, slow Flash animations in your Web design. A certain portion of visitors will lose interest for every additional second the page takes to load. Many mobile users cannot access Flash at all. Flash is like a black hole as far as Google is concerned, so your site will also suffer in search rankings.

2. Google search

Google search results nearing 100% ads above the fold

Google search - aiming for 100% above the fold ads

I often wonder if there are people at Google losing sleep over the monumental hypocrisy going on over there?

Their guidelines for a good user experience on the Web clearly state that excessive ads "above the fold" (basically the top part of the page) are an absolute no-no. And, in fact, they have an algorithm that penalizes Websites that insist on placing too many ads above the fold.

So how on earth are they managing 100% above the fold advertising? It's a clear sign that investor profits are steam-rolling over all other considerations (like user experience).

The fix: Make sure the content that visitors are after is clearly displayed at the top of the page so that they can find it easily. While advertising is important for revenue, don't let it disrupt the quality of the browsing experience on your site - and visitors will return again and again.

3. Entrepreneur (amongst others)

Entrepreneur forces you to view an ad before you have a chance to look at anything

Making me watch ads before anything else makes you... just... not... worth it

I'm using Entrepreneur as an example - but this problem applies to many, many large sites.

For me, an interstitial ad that blocks access to a page before I have even seen anything tells me something important about the site,

They value ad revenue more than my time.

By forcing someone to watch an ad before they access their content they are basically saying "we are so important you have to sit and wait before enjoying the privilege of reading our content".

Fair enough, you can skip the ad if you can locate the usually well hidden "skip ad" link. But its the principle of the thing that irritates me. I have decided that my time is more valuable than their ad revenue, so I simply won't use sites that force advertising on me on the first page view.

The fix: Value your visitors. Put them first. Give them access to what they need as quickly as possible. Don't put obstacles like interstitial ads in their way.

4. Groupon

Groupon starts out with a mistake that's difficult to correct

Get's it wrong and makes it hard and confusing to correct

If you look closely at the above screenshot, you'll see it wants me to provide my email address so that it can send me deals in St Johns. That's great, except:

  1. I haven't even seen what's on the site
  2. I've never heard of St Johns
  3. There are no obvious ways past this issue

From what is presented, I either leave the site or sign up for deals that apply to somewhere I've never been. Brilliant... I'll leave the site.

The fix: If you are going to make assumptions about your visitors and force them into an immediate conversion (which I really don't recommend), then at least try to make the right assumptions.

5. Yale (school of art)

Yale - Web design so bad it makes your eyes bleed

Fine, be artsy with your site... but I can't use it

I know that art is meant to be controversial; to inspire debate. But at some point one has to draw a line. I'm not sure that I even need to discuss the above page since it is pretty obvious what the problem is.

It doesn't matter what industry you are in. People still need to be able to use your site. They need to be able to consume content without getting a headache.

The fix: Always opt for a clean, lightweight, responsive theme so that reading and navigating the site is quick and painless. That doesn't mean you can't show off your artwork - just that it must be confined to specific, logical parts of the page and not vomited out everywhere.

Are you struggling with the design of your site? What other problems have you encountered? Share your Web design tips and ideas in the comments.

Old HTML tables can be upgraded into a responsive design with CSS3 and media queries

Mobile first, responsive Web design is something that can't be ignored because devices likes tablets and smartphones are quickly becoming the dominant browsing device of choice for the burgeoning millennial market.

If you are one of those unlucky people to have built your site more than a few years ago, on a platform that used the old table based Web design paradigm, then you have two choices: