When considering web design, just about everyone has an opinion of what is “good” design and what isn’t. It can be difficult to know what advice to take and what is best to be ignored – or at least taken with a grain of salt. What follows are three common pieces of website design advice that are outdated or just terrible.
Removing whitespace to keep content “above the fold.”
The fold is generally an outdated concern for most websites. Visitors are typically used to scrolling through sites and realize that some important content or action items may be found below the height of their screen. Eliminating whitespace from a site design solely to bring content higher on the page is never a good idea. Keeping whitespace helps organize content and places emphasis on particular content. Squeezing as much content as possible into the first 600-700 pixels of the page height will kill a design and typically overwhelm a visitor.
“Let’s make that block (insert crazy off-brand color here) to make it stand out”
While in some cases it is a good idea to leverage a particular color for an element to imply an action or attract attention, this idea can also destroy a design. It is always a good idea to stick to brand colors as much as possible. There are always ways to find brand complementary colors to draw a visitor’s attention. More subtle design elements go a long way.
Users will never find information if it isn’t visible on page load.
One major task for designers is organizing a lot of data or information in a relatively small space. Do not be deterred from using tabs, accordions, or toggle menus to present information to users. Tools like these make it easy to collapse large amounts of data and prevent long, unusable pages.
“Let’s not worry about development. We’ll worry about that after designs are approved.”
The development aspects of a site should always be a consideration, especially during the design phase. Many times beautiful aspects of a design or user interface look great on a flat composition but do not translate well during implementation or do not make functional sense for the site. Development should always be considered to ensure that design elements do not negatively impact the project or budget.
“Establish the full page design and worry about mobile later.”
A few years ago, this approach would not be a problem. With the state of the modern web, mobile must be a design consideration from the very beginning of a project. When mobile is an afterthought, the tablet and mobile experience typically suffers. A design now must be built up to desktop using the mobile-first approach – adding elements to enhance user experience as the device size scales up.
What advice do you wish you ignored? Are you looking for some help with your website design?.
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