As a web designer, I want your websites to give your visitors the greatest ease of use, the best impression and a welcoming experience. It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest intentions or a cutting edge invention, if your website is poorly designed, people will simply click away. There are certain elements that professional web designers leave out of a website and to include them are often seem as mistakes.

When I’m talking about “poor design” I am referring to certain elements that a website includes beyond the essential basics of good graphics, good layout, navigation, accessibility, etc. al design.

A professional web designer will educate their clients about certain features that may seem really cool, but are not in their best interests. able to point out that there are many components which contribute to a good website design. This can often lead to disagreements between the client and webdesigner and should be discussed during the planning stages.

Let us now look at four often requested, but not necessary the best choices to include in a website and the reasons why.

1) Background Music

Unless your site is musically themed such as a band, a CD or anything related to music, it is best to omit such a temptation. Although the idea may be to elicite a certain mood, I would advise you to avoid from putting looping background music onto your site.

It might sound nice to you at first, but imagine if you were the user clicking through your site and the music cannot be turned off.  This does not give the user a feeling of control and is risky whether they appreciate it, so it’s better to play it safe and leave it out before it is seen as a mistake.

2) Extra Large Text or Very Small Text

Font size should be 10-12 point with the headings and sub heading being larger to stand out. Extra large fonts for most of the body of the text looks like the writer is in your face, is aggressive and is forcing you to read. Extra large text is also a sign of an amateur who has poor design sense.

Extra small text is very difficult to read and looks like fine print you would normally see at the bottom of a contract. Don’t make your readers wear glasses just to read your website. Some people have a preference for smaller font size text, but as a designer, it is best to conform to the standard sizes used on most sites.

3) Popups

If popups were effective, I doubt that all browsers would have a popup blocker setting. The fact is, they are very annoying to the user. I don’t have to explain why — as you have experienced your fair share.

Most popups are designed to get you to do something like enter your name and email, or take advantage of a special offer that goes away forever if you leave the website. Most are in your face trying to pitch something and usually at the wrong time.  Many designers make the mistake of timing the  popup to appear a few seconds after arriving on the website.

Popups can be used but very judiciously and should show up at carefully thoughout scenarios during a user’s session of browsing your site. Typically, they are most compelling as a last ditch effort to keep a visitor on the site after they have declined an offer or hit the back button.

4) Use of Flash

There are actually 3 reasons why using Flash should be considered before insisting on its use:

a)     The Flash player

People have to download the Flash player in advance before they can view Flash files, so by using Flash your actual page views will decrease considerably because not everyone will be willing to download the Flash player just to view your site. You’ll also have to add a button to allow the user to download the Flash player if they don’t have one installed much like needing to have an Adobe Acrobat Reader when reading a PDF file.

b)    Site Optimization

If your content was presented in Flash, most search engines wouldn’t be able to index your content and this is a mistake. If you embedded your website name, page title, heading and keywords infused in your Flash the search engines would not pick them up unless they were repeated in the normal tags.  SEO and ranking would suffer if this was the case.

c)     Loading time

Users presented with a Flash entry have to wait longer than usual for the page to load compared to regular text and images, causing some visitors to lose their patience and click away. The longer your Flash takes to load, the higher your risk of losing visitors.

The best way to go is to use Flash only when you absolutely need the interactivity and motion.  Very subtle forms of Flash can be adapted that has no issues with load time, but what most people think of with Flash are jazzy, exciting effects at the point of entering your website.

Does it make you more  money? Does it increase conversions? Is it consistent with the rest of the website theme or does it seem placed as an afterthought by someone who thought it would make the site “cool”?