1. Splash Screens
Try and avoid splash screens like the plague. Seriously. They are just not worth it. Splash screens are the images/pages that you show before your homepage loads. They can have something like “Click here to enter” on them. This is BAD. People like a smooth, streamlined web-experience. Expecting them to read some introduction about you and then click a link to continue reading is like reading a book with one word on each page. People like websites which require minimum effort to traverse. (I am a student of Algorithms ) This raises the next point.
2. Too many choices
Basic HTML or Flash based? Dark background or Light background? And in case of large portfolios: Sort by Month, Year or theme? These are questions that you need to answer yourself as a designer. Such choices should not be placed in front of the viewer. Website viewers are fickle-minded. They will get distracted easily. And now with tabbed browsing in all browsers, the attention span has reduced further as multitasking increases. Keep it simple, keep it light. The user wants to see some content, and that should be made as simple and fast as possible.
3. Too much effort required
Users don’t like it when they have to click on the same thing repeatedly to get on with their work. This can become as issue if you are displaying your content in small parts and the user has to click on “Next” again and again. This can be easily seen from the fact that one the most hated features of Windows Vista was the User Account Control which asked the user for permission to proceed with something every other minute. Windows 7 has improved on this vastly.
4. Window Resize or Pop-up windows
Under NO circumstances should a website automatically resize the window. The reason for this is again the point number 3. The user will have to resize his/her window once he/she is done with it. NOT good. Same goes for pop-up windows. They will most probably be blocked by the browser and the user will have to Control-click on the link again. BAD.
5. PDF files
Come on. Even you hate this. Who likes it when you are browsing through a site casually expecting the next page to show, and suddenly the browser hangs up as it starts opening Adobe Acrobat/Reader to open a PDF file you have uploaded directly? No one.
Some possible solutions are to either convert it to text and add directly to the page, or state very clearly (maybe a nice icon next to the link) that you are about to open a PDF document.
Who doesn’t want to earn some money by putting up ads? Everyone does. But the viewer is there for the content that he probably saw an excerpt of on Google. Dont make him search for the content on the website. Put the ads on the side or at a place where it does not compromise on website readability.
Another important point: Do NOT try to make the ads look like the content and trick the user into clicking on it. This will probably piss off the viewer. The user is more valuable to you if he/she returns to the site for another visit.
And yet another thing to avoid: Flashy ads. Also avoid flashy stuff in general as the internet surfer’s mind is tuned to ignore content which blinks, jumps or tries to get attention in any way. Keep it simple and straight forward. Plain text helps in your search engine rankings too.
7. Music and Videos
I like music. You like music. Even your viewers like music. But, background music on websites is very BAD. Especially when it auto-plays. Not everyone is expecting to hear music if they are surfing from the office, or from home at night. Avoid it at all costs. You can share your playlist in form of links to pages which play the song. Or of you want to put the player on that very page, do NOT autoplay. Let the user decide this for themselves.
The story is similar for videos, but not the same. Videos take up bandwidth. They require buffering and a medium to high speed internet connection. Do not put a toll on the user for visiting your site.
8. Speed Reading
If your website is more about the text content, and less about the images then proper alignment and typography is very important. People who like to read long articles on the net are usually good at reading, and they can be made to stick around your website if your website has a good font, good layout and most important of all, good grammer. “Nuthin irritate reader more then bad eenglis”. Write in your native language if you are uncomfortable with English. Target specific people instead of trying to please everyone and then failing miserably.
There are a lot more points which can be stated in this article. Most of them are common-sense. But unfortunately, that isn’t very common. So think about what you are about to design before you actually sit down to design.