Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what TO do. To that end I’m publishing a list of my no-no rules for web dev. Follow these rules and you will always know what not to do.
1. Animated gifs – there is really no reason to use these horrible little miniature pixelated blobs. Long gone are the days of cramming cutesy moving objects into every empty space of a web site. That’s so geocities…
2. Full-screen flash – what are you? Coca-Cola? Cause if you’re not then you should not be using full-screen flash. It’s ridiculous, hard to update, hard to develop in, doesn’t look good unless you are really pro and have a ton of time. It is not indexed by google and most of all! It is hard to navigate and has sound.
3. Sounds – you know that awesome new song you have that you think everyone should hear? Or that cute little ding or bing or bloop that every button needs to have? Nobody cares and nobody wants to wait for it to load. Is this myspace? There is no time for buffering Kenny G or any G-Unit ballads for a web site. Bandwidth is precious, don’t clog it with your website noise.
4. Anything blinking – if it blinks, you better be able to justify it. Maybe it’s a simple flash movie to explain what the site is about? Maybe it’s a promotional blinker item… other than that, if it blinks permanently, nobody will take the site seriously. There is a reason why all the major browsers removed the parsing of <blink> from their repertoire.
5. Too much text – this one is simple but keep this in mind. People hate to read, they hate to scroll and they hate to wait. Anything that doesn’t slam them in the face with info quickly or direct them to where the info is will be passed over. Even the most basic Communications course teaches you about white space. Break up the copy so you have room for the eye to roam or better yet, get rid of it altogether or edit it down to be more concise.
6. Ugly pictures – this includes pics that are blurry, out of focus, don’t fit the page, have poor anti-aliasing around the edges, take away from the site or are just plain amateur. One of the most important things about web design in general is quality pictures! Get them from Getty, get them from anywhere. Use a photographer if you have to, here is a good one, http://www.collateral-photography.com/
7. Offensive colours – (yes I’m Canadian) here is another one. Seriously, you might think it looks good but if it’s hard to read… abandon ship. I would even go so far as to say black backgrounds are offensive. I used to love the contrast, I loved how striking it was, but there are better ways to make things stand out. Don’t use yellow… ever and don’t use too much purple unless it’s a nice light background or a gradient somewhere and it’s balanced out by another colour. Take advantage of the beautifully crisp LCD monitors with high res screens and put something on them people will want to view. I’m a fan of bold colours, just not ones that F up the design. Green and red do not go together, purple and orange do not go together, yellow and black hurt my eyes and too much contrast really isn’t a good thing.
8. Impossible to read text – too small, too yellow, weird fonts… your font can’t be anything other than the windows/mac system fonts or I will shoot you.
9. Ultra small navigation – it’s cute for hipster coffee housers but most people simply don’t have time to play hide the nav. It looks good in photoshop but the number one thing people have told me when I’m making a web site is to make the navigation bigger!
10Too many ads – now I’m a fan of monetization and yes I’ve been known to view about.com (a serious offender of number ten) but just keep them to a minimum. Ten blinking flashing animated banner ads will just piss me off, and if i can’t see the nav for the ads i will leave and most other people will. Use google ads sparingly and follow their limitation guidelines to stay in a reasonable boundary.
Stay classy San Francisco.