What’s prompting this message, you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you. As the Internet becomes increasing accessible and website templates become more and more popular, there are many who, with good intention, decide it’s a great idea to create a website. The issue with this is 1) they’re not a designer, 2) they’re not user experience experts, and 3) they have no clue how content plays a role in the design and execution of a website. However, they do feel it’s a good idea to create a website and make it public to the world.

If the website you created is for personal use, this message is not for you. However, to ANYONE who decides that they are executing a website as part of a reputable business endeavor, I urge you to read this message.

I don’t claim to be the best designer, developer, or content specialist. However, after working in the dot com business for a number of years, I do consider myself to be a darn good content expert and definitely well-versed enough to give the layman advice that will expose common knowledge within the industry and will encourage further research.

So, without further or due, here are some no-nos to put into your arsenal.

1) Don’t design pages in such a way that it distracts the user. While colors are great and fun, there is a fine line between fun and messy. In addition, too many images leads to clutter, while too little may make the page look very barren.

2) Don’t put music on your site without CLEARLY providing the user with a way to pause, mute or stop it. Simply because you love that song or style of music doesn’t mean your user will.

3) Don’t use fun fonts. Stick with the basics such as Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Franklin Gothic Book, Century Gothic, or Times New Roman. These fonts are much easier to consumer by the reader, and thus less distracting. If you do have the urge to use some of the more “fun” fonts, limit the use to parts of an image. By all means, stay away from Comic Sans; it’s a huge joke in the industry.

4) Don’t neglect getting a custom domain. It’ll make it much easier for users to get to your site. reginapatterson.com is much easier to remember than yoursite.com/reginapatterson-2736243845

5) Don’t use animated GIFs. This is so 1990s. Do like Nancy Regan said…”just say no.”

6) Don’t design a site without a goal in mind. Know what ultimately want your audience to do. This should guide what you put on your site and how you organize that information. If you want them to buy something, you should make it easy to find and purchase products. If you want them to register for an event, you should make it easy to register.

7) Don’t design a page without doing research. Research those sites that have been professionally vs. personally designed, and research sites of organizations that are similar to your organization. This should give direction and ideas on how you should proceed with your site.

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