by: Stefan Mischook of www.killersites.com
1 Don't use background music on your web pages!
Some web designers like the idea of a little background music
to set the mood of the page. In special cases like say an MTV
or Disney website, this can work. But for most websites this is
just a bad idea for a few reasons:
Music files are typically pretty ‘heavy', and take time to
download. Most surfers will not think that it's worth the
wait. Besides, many computers simply don't have sound capability,
so it seems silly to force these people to download something
they can't use.
Unexpected music/sound spewing forth from ones PC can be very
annoying and potentially cause problems.
If you want to have music on your web site, make it an option
that the user can turn on and off. A good way to do this is
with a Flash movie; most browsers come equipped with the Flash
plug-in and the Flash supports compact MP3 files.
Of course, if you just want to give users the option to hear some
piece of music, like your bands latest tune, or a sound clip from
an interview, the easiest solution is to create an MP3 of the
audio, and then create a link to it.
2 Don't use Internet Explorer's scrolling ‘marquee' tag.
Internet Explorer came out with the infamous ‘marquee' tag in
version 3. This HTML tag (that only works in IE), allows you to
create a stock quote like horizontal scrolling display of whatever
text you put in-between the tags.
There are options in using the tag in terms of how the text is
animated, but in a nutshell, you get animated text scrolling across
your page. Some web designers like it, but most surfers don't.
Scrolling marquees make your page look cheap and take away from
the rest of the page.
Tickers like that make sense when the information it displays
is constantly changing. Stock quotes are a great example of when
you might use a marquee display. But for static text, it is just
a bad idea for the most part.
3 Do keep the structure of your web pages consistent throughout
Some web designers get bored with what they're doing and decide
to create a different structures to their web pages within same
web site. A classic example is found in the way navigation works
on different pages; one page may have the navigation menu across
the top of the page then on the next page it will along the right
side and so on.
People like things consistent, so your web pages should be too.
That's why all windows programs have the same look and feel; the
same goes for the Mac programs.
4 Don't create automatic pop-up windows!
things you can do to someone visiting your website. If you want
to annoy your visitors go right ahead.
Pop-ups are typically used to present ads and other ‘non-core'
material to users. If you use pop-up windows, you have to learn
how to integrate those elements into your main pages and forget
about pop-up windows.
5 Do use standard design styles for your navigation.
Sometimes as web designers we may be tempted to use some funky
navigational system. Things like navigational links arranged in
a circle, or some sort of freaky 3d cube that you have to rotate
to find the web page links; this serves only to confuse people.
Big companies like Apple and Microsoft have spent a tone of cash
to figure out what types of navigation works, and what they found
is that left side navigation and top navigation is what people
are used to.
6 Don't automatically resize a visitor's browser window.
Some designers will come up with a style is that looks best with
resize the users window to fit that size. This is another surefire
way to tick people off; people will typically set their browsers
to the window size they are comfortable with.
If your style requires such precise window sizing to work, you
need to change your style! There are many factors that can affect
the screen real estate that visitors may be viewing your web pages
with (window size, screen resolution, browser text size), as such
you should strive to create fluid and flexible page layouts because
it is not possible to control all those factors.
7 Do make you web pages viewable at 800 x 600 resolution.
Many web designers have computers that can display higher resolutions
like 1024x768 and 1280 x 1024. They design there pages to fit
in that resolution, when someone hits those pages with a computer
that can display only a maximum of 800 x 600, the visitor has
to scroll to see the page properly.
Scrolling web pages vertically (top to bottom) is ok, as long
as it's not more than two and half pages or so. But scrolling
horizontally (side to side) is really bad and annoying to visitors.
In a nutshell, you want to design all your pages these days for
800 x 600; they make up about 40% of the web audience!
8 Don't automatically redirect visitors except in very
redirect visitors from one page to another for various reasons.
This can confuse people, and it can cause problems with the search
engines. If you want to send people to another page, create link
with a little explanation as to where they're going.
The general theme here is that you should not try to take control
away from the visitor except under special circumstances.
9 Do create a custom 404 ‘Page not found' page.
We've all seen them, 404 pages. On websites that are served by
Windows servers it is a plain white page that has this text:
page cannot be found
The page you are looking for might have been
removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily
Please try the following:
If you typed the page address in the Address bar, make sure that
it is spelled correctly.
Open the www.fakesite.com home page, and then look for links to
the information you want.
Click the Back button to try another link.
404 - File not found Internet
Technical Information (for support personnel)
Not very friendly and not useful to visitors, since the page itself
doesn't give you much information. The solution is that you can
create your own 404 page and have that appear instead of the practically
useless one that you see above.
A 404 page is just an html page like any other, you just need
to ask your host to set it up so you can use your own home made
404 page. A good 404 page will be clear to the visitor that they
found the right website, but just not the right page. 404 pages
should include a link back to your ‘home' page and maybe the site
map page. If you have a search engine built into your site, then
include the search too.
10 Do create a site map page.
A site map is a simple web page with text links to all the websites
sub-pages organized in proper categories; a lot of people will
use a site map if they can find one.
11 Do keep your web pages under 60k in size.
Web pages can be made up of text, images (GIF, JPEG and PNG) and
multimedia content like Flash movies and QuickTime video etc.
When you add up the size of all those elements in kilobytes, you
get the total amount of kilobytes someone will have to download
to see the entire page. This is typically referred to as simply
the ‘page size'.
If someone has to wait over 10 seconds to see your page, you are
probably losing most of your potential audience. High speed Internet
is growing steadily, but the majority of surfers are still on
old 56k dial-up modems. That means that you are begging for trouble
if your pages are over 60k.
12 Don't center everything on your web pages.
Centered text on pages is just hard to read; just think about
having to read a book where all the text was centered! Print rules
have been refined for well over a hundred years now, and they
work well. When in doubt about layout, think about how they do
it in print.
With that in mind, for western cultures, left justified text (text
that is lined up on the left side of the page) is the way to go.
You can center major titles or something similar, but do it very
The last statistic I've seen, about 10% of people on the web can't
but it does mean that if you do, you should provide an alternative
like simple text links at the bottom of your pages, or a link
to a site map so that people can still navigate your website.