Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design

Jakob Nielsen wrote an Article in January 2011 about the top ten mistakes of web design. I happen to agree with most of them with the exception of the eighth one which I mostly agree with. I believe that innovation is the key to extending the user’s schema of what websites should look like. It’s important that websites follow the norms but it is also at the same time, important they deviate to challenge the user and the web. I have listed the ten web design problems that Nielsen posited with my own context and mainly subjective views.The top ten mistakes in web designs according to Nielsen are very common to the populace.

When you go to a page and things don’t work as they are supposed to, you get dissuaded and close the page. This is unfortunate for both you and the author’s page will not have optimal use and the user will not get the information needed.The first is ‘the bad search’. Take a search engine like Google. When you type in misspelled words, it automatically prompts you to change it and also provides you with the correct information. For many other websites, the opposite is true. For example, when you go to a dictionary website, a very obvious example, and you enter a word, it might not come up. Sure, it’s a website for grammatically correct words, but isn’t the reason you are going to an online dictionary either to find the correct spelling or pronunciation or meaning. When you type in a word whose spelling is incorrect, it replies you,’ no results found’ and will not suggest other words. When I go on a webpage and I can’t immediately find what I am looking for, I immediately look to the right hand corner of the page to locate a search box and type in the word I am looking for. Sometimes, there’s only a random number of phrases I remember about something, I type all the random words in the search box, if it brings it up, I am happy. When it doesn’t, I exit the page. It is very important to have a good search engine as it promotes prolonged and satisfying usage by a user.

The second problem are PDF’s. PDF’s are great; when I want to print something or use animation within a page. They are greatonly when embedded in a page. Scrolling down page, if I come across a PDF, I don’t want it to link to another page that I have to wait to load up. It is terribly dislocating. The PDF layouts are usually optimized for a sheet of paper which is good for printing after you download it. Sometimes the PDF’s are embedded and have browser like commands such as printing and enlarging which is good when you open it as a link without saving, but this is only available in a page exclusively build to open PDF’s promptly. PDF’s are also usually long and don’t have enough white space within it (within the borders of the words) to relax the eyes and improve the flow of a reader because PDF’s are usually converted from pages intended for printing and not online reading. PDF’s are not editable within a page, you have to save it then download it. Annoying. Sometimes, when you want to quote something and you cut and paste it on a word document, it comes out with crazy formatting. Disconcerting. It is import to only use PDF’s for what it is intended for, printing and distributing manuals.

Thirdly, Visited Links. Imagine a list on a webpage. You pick randomly in other to source good information. If the visited links are do not change color. You can end up clicking on it twice and finding the same document. This can lead to frustration and disuse of a webpage.

Fourthly, Non-scannable text. Pages should be interactive and user friendly. In the old days before the improvement of the World Wide Web, the web was just a notepad. Walls of text aroused the reader’s interest because the web was a new phenomenon and those walls of text also disinterested the user because it gave them a headache. Information should be inputted smoothly and spatially. White space gives the illusion that the web content is small and easy to digest. Huge walls of text just make the reader turn off their brain. This is precisely why most people don’t like to read contracts due to the tiny letters and spatial definition. That’s why corporate lawyers have a job. When a web page is a huge blob of content, the reader exits the page. There are several ways to prevent that, such as using subheads, bullet heads, highlighted key words, short paragraphs and white space.

Fifthly, fixed font size. Presenting your webpage with a small font size is your prerogative, but there are people out there with optical problems. With the advent of CSS, an author can easily disable a browser’s ability to increase or decrease font size. This is off putting and has the reader do more work for something that should be easily amendable. A user should be allowed the opportunity to resize text just like an author has the prerogative to produce text in one size.

Sixthly, the page title. It is important to name a web page in such a manner that the name tells you what the content is. If a user goes to your page and favorites it, it is most likely the tag that would pop up as a default save name. It is also important to tag webpages. When a reader is looking for something via the internet, a few phrases are popped into the search engine. Take a blog for example, when you publish a new entry it is immensely useful to tag the blog entry with several informational tags relating to the main points of the page. When a person types a particular phrase into the search engine, webpages with tags exactly like the terms searched or relating to it will pop up.Seventhly, Adverts. Ugh. Those are the worst internet phenomenon ever created, from the user’s perspective. Pop-ups are a very close second. When a user goes to a page to find information, it is very important that they don’t have sections that are part of the page looking like adverts. When a person sees an advert-like section, it is automatically inputted in their brains as unimportant and disturbing. Flashy adverts and pop-ups dissuade the readers from looking at information because it is slated to look like an advert, although pertinent to the webpage.Eighthly, Violating design conventions. People don’t like change. When a website deviates from the norm, it invariably fails unless it’s a totally new phenomenon, like Instagram which recently rose into popularity. The webpage is just pictures and videos, but people use it because it is a relatively new phenomenon and Instagram arguably set the trend. Facebook is an old hat. Sometimes, they change the way they do things, and every time they do, they lose people, example, me. They overhauled the system about a year ago, and that pissed me off. I was confused and agitated because it didn’t look like it used to before, there were new problems that I had to deal with. It is important that a website be consistent with the norm unless it is a niche website; a website that is particularly devoted to a certain thing, like Instagram. When a link is clicked on, it should turn purple and when a website consists of more than one page, it should have a recognizable theme.Ninthly, Opening new Browsers. A page almost invariably has links to several other pages. It is accepted. It is also the user’s prerogative to be able to open the link on a separate page if they want to or keep it on the same page if they want to. With a page that has several links, opening it in a new browser window is particularly agitating. A user might prefer to open the new page on the same page without having it pop-up in a new tab to cloud their computer. An author should have the website opening to the same page because most computers have a pop-up menu that can open the link on a new page, if so preferred. A default mechanism should be that the new page replaces the old one unless specifically slated as such. One of the websites in particular that bugs me is the University of Houston-Downtown Blackboard web page. There are several links to take a user to the Blackboard page. When one clicks on blackboard through the e-services page,

Blackboard Entry Page 1
it links to a page prompting you to once again click on blackboard.

Blackboard Entry Page 2
When you click on the blackboard link, it automatically opens a new tab linking you to the sign-in page.

Blackboard Entry Page 3
This is very annoying and exasperating and has forced me to store the direct link to memory so I don’t have to go through it again. It is very important to give the user a choice to open a new webpage so as to encourage them to continually use the webpage.

Tenthly, Not answering user’s questions. The other day, my friend wanted to know how much an internet plane would cost. So like any web-savvy person, she typed in the website address for the internet company. She was unable to find the price of a basic internet service plan and had to call customer service, then wait for minutes before they picked up, then had to give them her name and address before they told her how much a basic internet service cost. At the end of the day, it was too expensive. If the website had simply put the price online, my friend wouldn’t have had to go through all this trouble to find out that she couldn’t afford their service and now they have her address and so can send her junk mail.

In order to improve the usability of websites, one should strive to avoid mistakes that drive away users. Nielsen’s list is more prevalent in 2011 than in 2013 because of the advent and popularity of niche websites like Instragarm and Vine. It is also less prevalent because people are more of the mindset that the Internet is an ever changing idea. One of the problems that I find with web design in 2013 are screen sizes. With the advent of this tablet and that that tablet nowadays, it is important that whatever layout we use for our website is fluid. Applications and mobile versions of the website are also very useful. The mobile versions are a little iffy though. Mobile versions usually don’t have the same information and images and videos are not usually optimized properly due to the size. Every tome I surf the web on my mobile device, I always choose a desktop version. Another problem with this is that website authors usually default to the mobile versions. It is unattractive because as a user I should have the choice to use which ever I use. Perhaps a screen could pop up asking if one wanted to use a mobile version or a desktop version rather than sending the user by default to a mobile version.

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