When Great Websites Go Bad – Tips to Improve

December 6th, 2011 admin Location: Raleigh, NC, Topic: Web Design | Digital Media

As a professional digital media designer, I am constantly in contact with great and not so great websites. So what I wanted to do in this quick post, was to give some advice to those new designers that know how to do the main ground work: design by hand, implement digitally, slice the design, code in html, css and php and then build the website; but they unfortunately lack the knowledge of how to refine the last details.

This happens to be extremely important in aging websites. As a website progresses in its life, its owners often request things to be modified and changed. Perhaps a new image added to that page, and another bullet point to the frequent asked questions page, or to create another page, etc. This is certainly not uncommon. But what happens is that the design itself starts to look like a Frankenstein and its look goes BAD.

So here are some tips to prevent those things from happening:

Tips:

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  1. Make sure that all pages have inline images and that they are correctly positioned and floated to either the left or the right. That will ensure that your content looks always attractive. Remember, an image speaks a million words.
  2. If a page has more than one Heading (and they should) make sure that all sub-headings have padding at the top, that way your content will look fresh.
  3. Visually separate sections within the content. A great way to do that is to place a background image on top of any subheading. This will appear to separate the last paragraph to the next sub heading.
  4. Make sure that your paragraph tags have some bottom padding. I recommend at least 1em.
  5. Make great use of Bold, Italics and Colors to highlight parts of your content.
  6. When using lists, try to make them as consistent as possible in terms of font-family and font-size.
  7. If you are using Javascript animation(such as Jquery or Mootools) make sure that it at least works without Javascript enabled.
  8. At the end of every page, make sure to remind your audience of one of your intended actions. If it is lead gen then ask them to join your list, if it is commerce, then remind them to visit your Store page, etc.
  9. Don’t assume users know usability. When you want them to click for more information, use the words: “Click for More Information” in a link.
  10. In the Homepage, don’t use tons of paragraph content. It is best to present some teasers to different sections. Or at least give them the possibility of hiding the content with Javascript.
  11. Your navigation should be consistent and it should work flawlessly. If you have Jquery animations, ensure that they work as intended. This annoyance can send all your potential customers out and fast.
  12. When you have extensive amount of content on a page, the background should be light and the font-color should be considerably darker – with great contrast.
  13. Don’t EVER create paragraphs without Headings. This looks unfinished at best. Every time that you have paragraph text, it should have some sort of Heading before it.
  14. If you happen to include phone numbers or links to “contact forms” inline with your content, make sure that they are of a different color or that at least they look distinctive.
  15. Finally -> Make sure that you spell check your content. If you are writing things in another language, have a native speaker read it first – otherwise you may end up making more harm than good. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen websites that say something like: “Habla Espanol.” Every single spanish speaking person would tell you this is incorrect, and therefore sends the exact opposite message – you don’t speak Spanish.
I hope that this tips can help young designers take their designs to the next level.
Best regards,
Alex Centeno

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About the Author

Alex Centeno MBA., is an international creative director and digital media strategist. Currently residing minutes away from the Research Triangle Park (RTP) - North Carolina, and with over 10 years of interactive marketing training and experience, Alex leads Merkados' international clients to maximizing their online business strategies. One of Alex's biggest strengths is his world-class capacity to effectively combine interactive marketing, digital media design and web development.

You may find further information about Alex Centeno MBA. at: and Twitter.

Sobre el Autor

Alex Centeno MBA., Es un director creativo y estratega de medios digitales reconocido internacionalmente. En la actualidad reside a tan solo minutos del Research Triangle Park (RTP) - Carolina del Norte, y con más de 10 años de entrenamiento y experiencia en marketing interactivo, Alex lidera a los clientes internacionales de Merkados™ para maximizar sus estrategias de negocios en línea. Una de las mayores fortalezas de Alex es su capacidad global de combinar de manera efectiva, mercadeo interactivo, diseño de medios digitales y desarrollo web.

Para más información sobre Alex Centeno MBA. puede visitar: y Twitter.