When PDFs go bad (and four other stupid web design mistakes)

Posted April 16 2013 @9:46pm by admin

Instead of focussing on best practice, sometimes it is worthwhile to look at worst practice for a new insight. After all, they say you learn more from your failures than your successes. Hopefully here, you can learn from other people’s failures instead:

1. PDF files for online reading

We know it’s easier to plonk a PDF in there rather than reworking it but really? Not only does a PDF take extra time to load, it breaks the user’s flow. Simple things like printing or saving documents are difficult because standard browser commands don’t work when in PDF view. Layouts are often optimized for a sheet of paper, which rarely matches the size of the user’s browser window. Worst of all, a PDF is an undifferentiated blob of content that’s hard to navigate.

And if this hasn’t put you off, it’s not going to help your SEO score either.

2. Cheesy stock shots from the eighties

Yes we know photography can be expensive but do we really have to have all those cheesy stock shots and animated cartoons blinking at us? If you are a serious business you’ve just blown it bigtime. Stock shots aren’t a sin. Bad stock shots are. Spend a little more time and effort (and even money) on shots that enhance your brand as opposed to ones that that actively try to sink it.

3. Look at me ‘n me truck!

It’s a wonderment to us as to why tradespeople have to show you their truck or van. Why oh why? Am I buying a tradesman’s time and skill or am I going for a ride in his econovan to the nearest drive-through?

Why not show me your team, or a picture of what you can do for me?

The need to show off your signwritten vehicle stems from a misunderstanding of what your customers are interested in: Themselves. They want to know that you’ll arrive on time, be polite, be prompt, be efficient, charge what you said you would, and leave having done a great job. They are interested in your service. They really don’t care about your truck or van. Honestly.

Bad website example

4. Flashing disco lights.

If you have a good message, say it. If your message is crap, try this instead (http://www.dokimos.org/ajff/).

My cat could do a better job.

5. Text in a JPEG…how cool is that?

Not cool at all actually.

In a similar vein to the rant on PDFs, many sites use images containing text, rather than actual text. One issue here is that load times are higher for images so your prospect will be waiting for the file to appear. But the biggest issue is that Google won’t see your text. So you take a hit on the SEO and another hit on load time. We suggest you let your fingers do the typing rather than take a short cut.

Have we missed any Web mistakes? You are more than welcome to use the contact form here to send us your biggest web hates and fails.