You Know Your Website Needs a Redesign when…

Whether you’re an amateur web designer planning your first site, or an experienced techie here to amuse yourself with web design fails, read on for our pick of the best ‘worst’ websites, with handy advice for making your site look good and perform better.

The URL looks like this:

The webmasters responsible for these gaffs should really have read the full URL through before going live.

In order to make it easy for both humans and search engines to find your website, there are a number of things to take into account with the URLs. Good URLs should be short, with no more than two or three keywords (too many and Google will penalise you for ‘keyword-stuffing’), no hyphens (which signal to Google your URL is over-optimised) and a legitimate domain name extension (ideally .com).

Your homepage looks like this:

Dodgy patterned background, scrolling text, animated .GIFs – this webpage commits a multitude of design sins. Thankfully, the French marketing company behind this 90s-inspired design made it as a spoof, with links directing visitors to their modern services.

Having said that, the Warner Brothers website for Space Jam (http://www2.warnerbros.com/spacejam/movie/jam.htm) is hopelessly stuck in the nineties, yet we find this a funny, somehow appropriate tribute to one of the most iconic cartoons of the decade. The lesson is that your design should match your brand.

Your images look like this:

Whilst Photoshop is an invaluable tool for every web designer, sloppy editing can make your pictures look unprofessional, odd, or just plain creepy. Whose is that hand in the image above?

Or this:

Images with low resolution will look grainy and pixelated when you try to make them bigger. Poor-quality images are a waste of page space and can ruin the entire look and feel of your site. Get rid of them – now.

There are a variety of subscription websites where you can download high resolution images to use to your heart’s content, without worrying about copyright infringement. But wherever possible, use your own original photographs taken with a good-quality camera.

Since search engines cannot ‘see’ images (although they are working on this), make sure any image you use has clear title, description and alt tags.

Your links look like this:

So you’ve came up with a detailed content plan and drawn up an airtight sitemap – but if your internal links look like this, none of your visitors will click them! Make sure your website has a clear main navigation bar (and preferably an alternative navigation at the bottom of the page), and that all the links look uniform. The problem with the martial arts website above is that the internal links resemble spam adverts.

If your site does use adverts, think about user experience and do not put them at the top of the page. Aside from irritating your visitors, Google penalises websites with too many ads ‘above the fold’.

We hope this design article has shown you what to do by showing you what not to do. Your website is one of your most essential business tools – make sure it isn’t letting you down.

About the Author: Vikki is a freelance writer who works alongside Hullabaloo design agency. When she’s not writing, she works in illustration and graphic design, specialising as a portrait artist.

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