Webpage design flaws

Mistakes to avoid

Other resources

Bill B's Advice

Always test-view your web designs with a text-only browser like LYNX. If your webpage is not usable by this most basic of all browsers, you will also drive away or offend such users as:

  • Google spider and others. Google is like a blind internet user!
  • People with graphics turned off for speed (large number of users)
  • The community of vision-impaired net users (using text/speech sw)
  • People using VT-100 terminals in libraries
  • People on inexpensive "freenet" accounts
  • Low-income school kids using 286 machines and 2400b modems
  • People who use LYNX for ultra-high speed Web exploration
  • Users on UNIX shell accounts using Lynx for convenience (me!)

Actually, it's a very good idea to develop all your pages with a text-based browser, then add necessary graphics later. This will force you to view your page as a provider of content, as is only right. It forces you into a top-down design for browser compatibility. First you create the content, then add graphics, then add layout, then fancy features. This gives your page "graceful degradation" when broswer incompatibility issues arise: some browsers can't see the fancy features but everything else works. Others screw up the layout, but at least the graphics and text content comes through. Some users won't see the graphics, but all the text is still there. This is good design, and even at worst it is still usable by nearly all browser software. Always include a webmaster's "mailto:" link at the bottom of every page. (or, to avoid spam, include a form which forwards email, or instead use a GIF or JPG graphic of your email address which spammer software can't read.) That way if you accidentally screw something up on your page, some nice person MAY tell you about it eventually. If there's no obvious way to contact the page owner, your embarrassing mistake might remain there for ages.

Always include a link to previous pages or to the top of your site. Large numbers of users come to your site through deep pages found by web-search programs. If some tiny fourth-level submenu on your site attracts lots of users, yet it doesn't point directly to the rest of your vast and wonderful website, those users who find the subpage will have no clue that the rest of your site even exists.

On the top page of your site, never use frames, image maps, animations, or gigantic gif/jpegs/audio files. You want to welcome ALL browser types, at least initially. If your top page contains specialized techniques which aren't compatible with all browsers everywhere, then anyone who uses some slightly-incompatible software will immediately leave in disgust. If you have to offend certain users with a frames-heavy, graphics-heavy site, at least hook them in with a good, fast-loading top page. Save the slow or incompatible stuff for deeper menu levels. Your top page should be intentionally text-only (with maybe a few small, fast graphics), and with a link to GRAPHICS VERSION and FRAMES VERSION. Not the other way around!
Created and maintained by Bill Beaty. Mail me at: .
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