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Faux Pas

Good ideas are hard to come by, but bad ones can't be avoided. Here are a few common mistakes made by new web developers, and a few good ideas that should be executed with caution.

It's Cool!
You've gotta love the web designer that puts something on their web page because it's too cool not to.

Try to be honest with yourself when you put something on a web page, does the item serve a purpose other then being neat?

Is that "neat" element still neat after you've looked at it 20 times?

It may be a good idea to steer clear of anything that does nothing but up your "cool points" because I can assure you that it's only decreasing them.

Some favorite "KewL StUFf" to avoid:

Using JavaScript To Protect Your Work
A lot of people like to use those scripts that disable right-click. This is by far the most clueless way to protect your work.

Allow me enlighten. There are at least four ways around a disabled right-click:

  1. Press the menu button (next to ctrl).
  2. Click both buttons at once.
  3. Click and hold the right mouse button, press enter at the prompt, release the right mouse button.
  4. And of course, turn off javascript.

For images, all they have to do is:

  1. View source code, and go directly to the image address.
  2. Get the image out of the browser cache.
  3. Click and drag the image to a folder or graphics program.
  4. Do a screen capture.
  5. Once again, turn off javascript.

Disableing right-click is a useless security measure, a sign of a beginner, and by far the most irritating, and rude, way to limit someones browser. There is a lot more you can do with right-click other then save an image or view the source code.

If you don't want people to steal your work, why is it on the world wide web?

Net Slang
While we're on the subject of "KeWl ThiNGS", nothing says ridiculous like net slang. It's not AOL land here, so let's avoid "LOL", "Kewl", "OMG", or my personal favorite: "ROTGDFWLMBMFAO".

If your English teacher didn't teach it, don't use it. Hey, I'm not a grammar queen myself, but let's not butcher the "King's English" with net slang, huh?

Oh, and one more thing, I can't find "luv", "dunno", and "waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay" in the dictionary.

Poor Typeography
If you really want everyone to read your content, make it easy for them. Serif fonts (fonts with little "feet", such as Times New Roman) are great for print. They're easy to read, and visually attractive. However, serif fonts render poorly in pixels, making them a bad choice for on screen. Stick with a good san-serif font like "Verdana", "Arial", or "Trebuchet MS".

Make certain that your font is large enough to read, and looks well on the background color you have selected.

Avoid centering an entire paragraph of text. It's hard to read.

TYPEING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS CAN COME ACCROSS AS SHOUTING TO THE AVERAGE VIEWER. Typing Every Word With A Capital Letter Is Reserved For Titles, So Why Do It In A Normal Sentence? AND dOn'T eVEn tHinK abOuT TyPinG liKe tHiS.

Some trends I've been noticeing lately that can be about as irritating as tHiS. mAKING tHE fIRST lETTER oF a wORD lOWERCASE, aND tHE rEST cAPITAL. iTS cOMMON iN nAVIGATIONAL mENUS, aND kIND oF sTUPID. And then there are some people who try to make thier own English rules. Like using periods instead of apostrophes. Example: don.t instead of don't. Shouldn.t instead of Shouldn't.

Forgetting To Spell Check
I don't care how many spelling bees you've won; throw your content into a spell checker at least once. Although I've never been uptight about it, 90% of your viewers will make fun of you and pay no attention to your website if you misspell something repeatedly.

Under Construction Signs
If it's not ready to be put on the web, then why is it up? It's been said a thousand times, a good web site is always under construction!

Cliché Add Ons
Guest books, counters, tag boards, cliques, and imoods. Just a few of some common personal homepage add ons, and no, their not irritating add ons that should be avoided at all cost, they are however a bit overdone and something that you should give a second thought too, before throwing them up on your site.

Counters are a good idea, but best hidden.

Frames are a pretty good idea really, but there are a lot of things that make frames a bad idea, like when done wrong the load time can be outrageous.

When you want to use a frame layout, you should really make a second "non-frames" version of your website. Then, give people the choice of "frames" or "no frames"

Useless Splash Pages
Surely you've come across the "click here to enter my website" pages. Those pages are called "splash" pages.

Splash pages are not a bad idea; however, if its only purpose is to act as a door to your web page then don't use it.

Use splash pages to tell the viewer what to expect from the website, and provide alternative versions of your website. For example, "Frames / No Frames" or "Flash / No Flash".

Splash Pages are also used with pop-up websites

It's just a good general rule with page design, if it has no useful purpose, then why is it there?

When you're still new to web development, coming up with a design that looks good in all browsers can be a chore, but telling someone that they "require" this or that to view your website is a bit silly.

Make certain that your site doesn't require JavaScript, images, or other not so fully supported/easily turned off features. A lot of people turn off things like images, and JavaScript, so don't assume that everyone will see your "extras", even if they have up to date browsers.

If you want to please everyone then make sure you provide an alternative, instead of requirements. If you use Flash, provide a "non-flash" version, if you use frames, provide a "non frame" version, if you use a "pop-up" website, then provide a regular website for people that don't like pop-up.

Always make sure that your design looks good in 800x600, 8-bit color, and the latest version of all browsers.

Background Noise and Animations
Don't use background music. When people surf they want to here their music, not yours. I'm sure it's cool music to you, but everyone has their own definition of cool, and you never know, something as simple as your taste in music could turn a visitor away.

Further more, most people surf in environments where background noise is not welcome, such as the library. Not everyone knows how to turn off the speakers.

Site Navigation
Don't assume that all your visitors know how to use the back and forward buttons. Make sure a link to the main page is always accessible.

Assume that all of your visitors have never used the internet, and make it easy to navigate your site.

A quick way to test your site for ease of navigation, open it up in a typical browser, and navigate through every single page in your website, using absolutely no menu bar items, back buttons, or any other feature that you didn't put on your website.

And most importantly, make sure a visible link to the index of your website is on all pages. Some search engines will index a part in your website other then the main page, and your visitors may not know where they are at.

Safety First
I don't care how old you are, never give personal information on a website. No home addresses!

When giving a snail mail address, always use a P.O. Box. They're not that expensive.

WeLCoMe To MY CooL AweSomE SUpEr WeBsiTe!!!!!!!!!
Let the visitor decide how cool and super your website is.

As a matter of fact, avoid welcome signs all together. Yeah, they're polite, but look at it like this, you have 5-7 seconds to convince a visitor to stay, is it really so wise to waste 2 of those seconds with "Welcome to my website"?

Check every link and image on your website, then check it again.

Then, check your information diligently. Don't assume that the website you got your information from was correct. Check your sources, and credit them. If you got your information from a magazine, give the magazine title, issue/volume number, month, year, article, and author. If your website is giving information, then make sure you credit all sources, like a school report.

Divide Your Content Logically, and Be A Minimalist
Don't put all of your website on one page, divide everything up. Remember that smaller page sizes = faster load times. Remember, the less your visitor scrolls the happier they are.

Remember that less is more, get strait to the point and if the piece of information is pointless take it out. Remember that the average person has the attention span of a three year old (myself included), so the less information you have the better.

But don't misread this, details and extra bits of information are great, but if that extra piece of info can be put somewhere else, like a "more info" page, then put it there instead.

Get Strait To the Point, and Stick To The Topic
If your website is about Unicorns, don't include a section about something that has nothing to do with Unicorns, and make sure that it is blatenly obvious that your website is dedicated to Unicorns.

No one will bother with the rest of your website if they don't know what it's about within the first 5-7 seconds.

Thumbnails Are Good
If you have an image gallary, or more then one image on a page, make a link to the full size version, or a thumbnail. Images take a long time to download for some, so give the visitor the option of viewing them.

Oh, and thumbnails are not made by resizeing the image with the "width" and "height" attributes in the <img> tag! Thumbnails should be made in a graphics program.

Don't copy and paste someone else's content, don't download any picture you find, and don't claim ownership on something you didn't create yourself.

Come on people, this is obvious! People know when they're plagiarizing, so just use your brain, dammit.

Remember The Alt Attribute
Some people don't have graphics capabilities, or turn images off for faster load times. The blind usually have websites read out loud to them by the computer.

Make sure you use the alt attribute in your image tags so these people can see/hear what the image is about.

Plus, search engines read the alt tag. Leave it out, and your ranking could go down.

Get Rid of The Old "Netscape Sucks" Mentality
Netscape doesn't suck, it's just strict.

Don't dub a browser or operating system "sucky" because your website falls apart on it. Remember that you are designing for the World Wide Web, not "Internet Explorer, Windows only".