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Common Web Design Mistakes


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Very Large Images

Important images should never be too large. Artwork should be linked via small icons and the size of the full image clearly stated.

HTML Reduced Images

The "height" and "width" HTML tags should never be used to reduce the size of an image as this forces the browser to download more data than is needed. A graphics editing program should be used to reduce the image to the appropriate size.

No Text Alternatives

All images should have a text equivalent, either as an ALT property or in a separate description. This is especially important if they represent links. This allows users to see what their options are without waiting for the entire page to finish downloading.

Java Script Required

Activation of Java Script should NEVER be required to navigate your site.

Cookies Required

Cookies are unreliable and often a nuisance. Users worried about being targeted by marketing databases usually disable them. Some functionality performed by cookies can be accomplished via hidden form variables. Whenever you are using cookies, for any reason, you should say so clearly. You should also make sure that cookies are only returned to the server that set them, as many browsers now disallow other uses.

Browser Dependent

HTML specific to one browser should NEVER be relied upon. Requiring users to switch browsers just to read your site is simply unreasonable.

Inconsistent Links

A single document can be referenced by many different URLs, particularly if your site has multiple names. Be consistent in how you link to documents so that the browser's cache does not have to load the same file multiple times. To improve flexibility and consistency, leave the site name out of your links.

Broken Links

Links on your site may refer to documents that are not available or servers which are down. You should regularly check your server's error logs for Document Not Found errors. To help prevent such problems, each document should contain a commented list of those documents which refer to it. This allows you to easily update your links when a document moves.

Bad Scaling

Your site should adapt well to different window sizes. A page that does not scale itself to a wide range of sizes forces users to scroll around or to consume excessive desktop space in order to find what they are looking for. Be sure to test your page on sizes ranging from 1024x768 to 1200x900. You may even want to try your site on a 160x160 PDA display. It's hard to optimize for this format, but often you'll find that simple rearrangements can make your page much more readable even in this limited format.


Frames almost never look as good on someone else's browser as they do on yours. They rarely scale correctly to different display sizes, often leave unwanted garbage behind, and always mess up the browser's history trail. Many users hate frames deeply. Try not to use frames at all.

Bad Background

Your background should contrast with the foreground text, but not garishly. If you are color-blind, please let someone else choose the colors. Low contrast or clashing colors make a site almost impossible to read. Do not rely on a background image to create contrast with your text. Set the page's background color so that people browsing without image auto-loading can still read your information.

Unnecessary Registration

Requiring users to submit personal information should only be done if it is absolutely necessary and only truly necessary information should be required. There should be a clear statement declaring why the information is necessary and exactly what it will and will not be used for.

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