Website Features to Avoid

Some of the many design features that get in the way of good site design are listed here:

Bleeding-Edge Technology

Using the latest and greatest is a sure way to discourage users. Don't try to attract users to your site by bragging about use of the latest Web technology. You may attract a few nerds, but business users care more about useful content and your ability to offer good customer service.

Excessive Flashing Text

Avoid flashing text and text with too many different bright colors. This is distracting and takes attention away from the your message. Only use flashing and colored text sparingly. (You can use some animation to attract attention to your Advertisements.)


Try to avoid developing pages made mostly of Flash. Flash has some major problems: First, Flash is often used on home pages as a "splash" page, and search engines can't index pages consisting primarily of Flash. This means your splash page will not get listed. Secondly, hyperlinks made with Flash can't be spidered by search engines. Another problem is that visitors with slower Internet connections may see excessive page load times. Often times visitors will look for faster loading sites and bypass yours if they have to wait too long.


Splitting a page into frames is very confusing for users since frames break the fundamental user model of the Web page. All of a sudden, you cannot bookmark the current page and return to it (the bookmark points to another version of the frameset), URLs stop working, and printouts become difficult. Also, search engines do not index framed sites very well. Don't use frames!

Image Maps for Navigation

Try not to use image maps exclusivly for your site navigation. You need to use standard HTML hyperlinks on your site or it will not get spidered properly. Search engines can't spider image map navigation links because the spider gets hung up in the image map's code. If you want to use image maps, you should use them only in addition to a second navigation scheme that uses standard HTML hyperlinks.

Lengthy Page Download Times

If your Web page takes too long to download, you will loose visitors. Guidelines for download time are based upon the most common modem speed currently in use (28.8 Kbps). Each Web page should download in 15 seconds or less using a 28.8 modem. In order to achieve this download speed standard a Web page should not contain more than two or three graphic images and a just few printed pages.

Long Scrolling Pages

No one will read your text if it takes forever to download! Also, if a Web page contains too much text or if the text is too verbose, visitors may be loose interest and leave. Brevity and clarity are as important as how your Website is organized. Your message, on each page, should be written concisely; and all critical content and navigation options should be on the top part of the page.

Nonstandard Link Colors

Links to pages that have not been seen by the user are blue; links to previously seen pages are purple or red. Don't mess with these colors since the ability to understand what links have been followed is one of the few navigational aides that is standard in most web browsers. Consistency is key to teaching users what the link colors mean.

Poor Site Navigation Support

Don't assume that users know as much about your site as you do. Visitors always have difficulty finding information, so they need support in the form of a strong sense of structure and place. Start your design with a good understanding of the structure of the information space and communicate this structure explicitly to the user. Consider providing a site map and always let users know where they are and where they can go. Also, you will need a good search feature for larger sites since even the best navigation support will never be enough.

Reverse Video

You should avoid reverse video on your Website for two reasons. First, you cannot print reverse video text, unless it's a graphic element. Second, light colored text on a dark background is difficult to read and can cause severe eyestrain.

Scrolling Text, Marquees, and Constantly Running Animations

Never include page elements that move incessantly. Moving images have an overpowering effect on the human peripheral vision, so give your users some peace and quiet and allow them to actually read the text.


Wallpaper makes text difficult to read, especially for people with impaired vision. Unless you want to limit your Website to people under the age of 40 who have perfect 20/20 vision, avoid the use of wallpaper.


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