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Websites: Don't Look Like an Amateur


We’ve all seen the sites that make you think “Uh oh, amateur hour”. It’s easy for beginners to make some basic mistakes that give their sites an amateurish look. So how do you avoid giving that impression with your first website? Here are 20 tips to help you.

  1. Look at lots of good and bad sites. Try to list what makes them look good or bad.
  2. Keep your pages simple. Look at the way good magazines layout their pages.
  3. Do not use a vivid color or frantic pattern for a background. Most people will find it hard to look at any pictures or read the text if the background is too distracting.
  4. If you don’t want a plain white background, make sure that your text is still readable. A dark or medium blue background with black text will make what you write illegible and nobody is interested enough to strain their eyes – there are plenty more websites out there that they can read.
  5. A black background can work but you must make sure your text is white or another very light color. It is probably best not used for pages where you are trying to give people quite a lot of information.
  6. If you use a graphic for a web page background, make sure it is pale and text is readable on it. You must also check your page with different monitor resolutions because it might not work well in a different resolution to the one you use.
  7. Don’t go crazy with fonts. Choose ONE easily readable font like Verdana, for example, and use it throughout the site. You could use a more decorative font for headings if you feel you absolutely must.
  8. Don’t use lots of big pictures on one page. It will take longer for that page to load and people won’t wait around for slow loading pages.
  9. Make sure that any pictures you do use are relevant to the subject of the page and add something to it.
  10. Make sure that all pictures are reduced in file size.
  11. Learn how to wrap text around pictures and other graphics, long pages with large empty areas alongside graphics just scream amateur.
  12. Don’t put your text in a graphic. If you do, it will probably slow down page loading and it will also mean search engines won’t be able to read it so won’t index your page.
  13. Try to avoid frames unless you have a good reason to use them and you understand them. They can sometimes hinder rather than help navigation, stop people linking to individual pages on your site, and can stop search engines indexing your site.
  14. Make sure your menus are consistent throughout your site and make sure that all your pages are accessible from your menu. It’s surprising how easy it is to forget to add a new page to it.
  15. Don’t try innovative ideas with your menu. Stick to tried and tested ways of displaying it. If people can’t find your menu or work out how to use it, they won’t stay on your site for long.
  16. Never, I repeat, never put ‘under construction’ signs on your website. Nothing screams ‘amateur hour’ louder than this. When people do this, what do they expect? Are they expecting people to come back periodically to see if it’s finished? If they are expecting that, then they are fooling themselves. Don’t do it.
  17. Don’t put lots of little icons from various companies dotted around your pages unless you are getting paid to do so. Leave off things like ‘this site was designed to be viewed in Internet Explorer’. Why do you want to give free publicity to Microsoft – do you think Bill Gates can’t afford to advertise? Even if you are getting paid or expect to get a commission from affiliate advertising, make sure the ads look good on the page and aren’t annoying. Some flashing ads can actually send people off a site in double quick time no matter how fascinating the content.
  18. Don’t use a web counter, they really don’t give you any useful information and experienced web users know that.
  19. Check and double-check your text. Poor spelling and punctuation look bad and, in the worst cases, make an article hard to understand. Remember the best selling book, ‘Eats Shoots and Leaves’. The title comes from a story about a panda that eats shoots and leaves but a wrongly placed comma changes the sense, ie ‘the panda eats, shoots and leaves’. You should know the difference between it’s and its, their and there and that separate is not spelled separate – a misspelling I see all over the web. Also, please don’t go mad using exclamations marks – one occasionally is OK, if you must, but not at the end of every other sentence and certainly not several at the end of any sentence.
  20. Don’t expect a website about you, your family, and pets to become a cult attraction. Only your friends and family will want to visit it and maybe not all of them. If you want to do a website, choose a subject that is likely to interest a variety of people even if it’s a minority interest like bungee jumping, camel racing or tiddlywinks then make it the best website on the subject that you possibly can.

© 2020 Sid mark

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