No-nos that ID you as an amateur

Provided by the Good News Web Designers Association

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The 12 Most Common Mistakes
Made by Beginners

While there are always useful exceptions for the following rules, these no-nos are usually what divide websites that people don't take seriously from the good quality sites that are visited time and again.

1st NO: Don't use wild backgrounds! They can frazzle the viewers' eyes, or they make the words hard to read.

Professional sites have plain-color backgrounds, usually white for the main body of the screen.

2nd NO: Don't put a scrolling message on the status bar. Oftentimes, one of the first things that amateur webmasters do when they discover how to use JavaScript is to make the bar at the bottom of the browser window display a message that scrolls across it. Please don't. Leave that space alone for use as it was intended: to report when a page is finished being downloaded and to show the URL of a link.

3rd NO: Don't say CLICK HERE! Design your site well enough so that visitors know what to click without being told. This leads us to the next no:

4th NO: Don't underline words or use bright blue fonts. This confuses people; they think these words might be links.

5th NO: Don't use weird colors. Think of a high quality magazine. What colors do they use? Answer: Black text on white paper, and colored headlines that are very tastefully done and easy on the eyes.

6th NO: Don't use "under construction" signs or make excuses for unfinished sites. You might think this will entice viewers to return later to see what you eventually add to the page. But rarely do they care enough to come back. They want what they want the first time they try, and if you don't give what you promise right at that moment, you lose them. They won't remember to come back even if they wanted to. Have you ever bookmarked an "under construction" page in order to return later? Either leave the unfinished page off the site till it's totally done, or make it look finished even before it is finished.

7th NO: Don't use more than 2 animated graphics on a page. Too busy!

8th NO: Don't force your visitors to listen to sound. That means no automatic starting of music when the page loads. Sometimes this crashes people's computers, although not as often today as in the past. Sometimes people are trying to enjoy their favorite radio station. Sometimes they just want quiet. Offer music, but give people control over whether they hear it or not:

The HTML code for this is:
<embed src="yourfile.mid" width="140" height="55" autostart="false" loop="1" border="0">

9th NO: Don't use large fonts OR ALL CAPS except for headlines. Imitate the high quality magazines again. Stay normal. Normal is classy. Abnormal does not help us emphasize or call attention to the points we are trying to make. Abnormal does call attention to our amateurism.

10th NO: Don't make it hard for your visitor to contact you/your client, or to find their way back to the home page. Ask an Internet Ignoramus you know to look over your site, without any coaching from you. Can he figure out easily enough how to navigate through the site and come back to start?

11th NO: Don't use a lot of graphics on a single page. Neither display very large graphics. They greatly slow the downloading of the page. If you must display numerous pictures, divide them into several pages, like a slide show where people click on "next" to see the next one.

12th NO: Don't forget to proof-read your page. Run it through spell-check, but also proof it manually. Are all columns lined up evenly? Downsize the screen size of your browser; does everything still line up evenly? If you coppied the text from elsewhere, there might bee line breaks in the middle of paragraphs, even though they don't show up on your monitor. Little things like this are important. Viewers wonder: If you misspell words, how dependable is the information on your site? (Did you catch the two typos in this paragraph?)


Download this tutorial as a printable Word Document.


There are 4000 new websites going online every day! That means that many, many sites are competing for the time and attention of your potential visitors. Set yourself apart. Get rid of every remnant of beginner-itis that is still on your website(s). It's the only way to earn the respect of your visitors so that they will trust and use and return to the information you offer.

You have only 10 seconds to convince a visitor to stay at your site, maybe less! If those 10 seconds are spent getting frustrated with long downloads, or with music they didn't want to hear, or with gimmicks and colors that offend their eyes, you've lost your visitor, probably for good.   However, if in those first 10 seconds they find a link to what they're looking for, or they get a good feeling that they will enjoy this site, or they are attracted to a benefit you're offering them, you've got them hooked.

One sure way to rise out of the ranks of amateurism into the ranks of good quality is to divide your page into one to three narrow columns. Guide the viewer's eyes down the page rather than across. This gives people the opportunity to scan quickly, and speed is a key reason why people go searching for information on the Internet.

Never clutter the page. Give the viewer one eye-catcher to focus on first that represents your ministry or business. It should stand out, contrasting with the rest of what's on the page. For example, a photograph on a plain background with lots of space around it will draw the eye to it immediately. A busy page, messy-looking, disorganized, and uneven is one that shouts YUK! AMATEUR HERE!

If you publish other people's articles and opinions on the web, first get their permission (or else you're violating copyright laws). Then state under the title or at the end of the text who authored it and what their credentials are, so that the material is taken seriously. If you write your own articles or offer your own opinions, include quotes from reputable sources to back up your claims. Quote recognized experts. Do good research and let the research show.

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