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Web design - bad and good
The number one mistake
The most frequent cause for bad web design is narcissism. What happens is that people write web sites for themselves, not for their readers.
Professional web designers that have overcome their own self-love and look rationally at web design almost always face a dilemmashould they pander to the narcissism of their clients or should they create a truly good and effective web site for its readers?
A professional web designer will try to educate his clients, but if they insist on some bad design nonetheless, because they like it, the web designer often has no choice.
Typical examples are self-aggrandizement texts or pictures, coupled with trying to shove them down web visitors' throats, usually by putting them as high up front as possible, thereby displacing the information the readers actually want.
This does not work. Web users have seen too many web sites of that kind. It takes them only seconds to spot it and perhaps leave the site.
It is often possible to measure this through good web statistics. If the first and most prominent articles are opened less often and kept open for a shorter time than articles further away, then the site needs rearranging.
But be carefulhow often an article is opened may say little about the article itself. It may only say something about how attractive the link to it looks. This is a weak spot of most web statistics.
The rule is simpleswallow your self-love and put your readers first. Put the articles first which your readers really want to read. Make it easy for them to open them and to find more of them. Relegate your narcissistic articles to a spot where readers can find them if they want to, but don't try to force them.
The same holds for all other web design decisions as well. Make them rationally. Design the web site for its readers, not for its owners, if you can.
Vincent Flanders' Web Pages That Suck
Scary Web Site Mistakes - And How To Correct Them includes a list for further reading.
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox
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