If you’ve worked in a shared office space before, you’ve surely encountered someone who came off as less than professional. Whether the offender was blaring music loudly from a cubicle, leaving dirty dishes in the break room, or chatting your ear off for hours when you tried to get your work done, it’s not hard for most people to identify the habits that turn people off in the workplace. When it comes to websites, though, it seems many people don’t know the unwritten rules as websites that look unprofessional are easy to find. Consider avoiding these common errors to make sure your site isn’t the internet version of that annoying coworker!
1. Low-resolution images or grainy pictures
It’s 2016, but the graphics on some websites look like they were created in 1995. There’s nothing worse than a graphic so grainy that it’s difficult to read or a low-resolution photo that makes it hard to view any amount of detail. Of course, it’s always best to have a professional photographer shoot photos for you or have a professional graphic designer create images for you, but even if your budget doesn’t permit it, you can still use high-resolution graphics. Most modern smartphones take pictures in the double-digit megapixel range, so as long as you’ve got good lighting, they shouldn’t look too grainy. Apps like Canva or Adobe Spark Post will also create high-resolution images. If you use stock photos on your website, it might be especially tempting to opt for the low-resolution one because it’s cheaper. Don’t do it!
Here’s an additional tip: Once you’ve decided what size you want your images to display, create your graphics at double the height and width. This way they will display clearly on “retina” devices that use double resolution.
2. An outdated theme
Like most industries, web design employs trends that change over time. Gone are the days of textured buttons, blue underlined links, and Flash intro animations. Instead, rich, colorful photography has taken center stage. Of course, your site should be mobile-friendly, but it’s also important for your site to have a modern look to it. For a look at what’s trending now, check out the Awwwards.com Awards of the Day. As the name indicates, they add new sites every day!
3. Poor font choices or colors
In the early days of the Internet, font choices were extremely limited. Almost every site used Times New Roman at first, and gradually the list expanded to other common options like Arial and Verdana. Because those fonts were so common so long ago, they’re now passé and look outdated. Check out this list from WebdesignerDepot for some other fonts to avoid as well. As an alternative, consider using a plugin to enable Google Fonts on your site if your theme doesn’t include them already. And whatever you do, don’t ever use Papyrus or Comic Sans.
Also, be wary of the colors you select. Just like a hunter green or goldenrod refrigerator looks like it came straight out of the ’70s, colors send a message online as well. Don’t pick colors that are too bright or clash with each other. The Web is full of great resources on color, as well. For starters, Awwwards.com dissected some trendy website color schemes and Kissmetrics published a helpful study on how the psychology of color affects your website’s viewers.
4. Typos or bad grammar
Even if your site has a great design and looks beautiful, grammatical errors can instantly tarnish your credibility. It’s important to have someone proofread your site. Pay special attention to your home page and other areas of your site that garner the most traffic, as errors there will be the most costly.
What have you noticed that makes a website look unprofessional? Share your thoughts in the comments below.