July 18, 2020

Things to Avoid for a Small Business Site

Real Avenue Design

Do you know what to look for when you are shopping around for a small business website design? Do you know which design elements that appeal to users and which elements will turn off visitors?

If you’re the business owner of a website, you definitely don’t want visitors to be turned off by a bad design that is ugly, misplaced, or irritating. They will use your competitor’s site instead.

So here is a small list of design elements visitors frequently complain about. Most of these recommendations have been on web designers’ things-to-avoid lists for a while but they still are out there in the wild.

  1. Sounds that automatically play: This is obviously number one. Remember MySpace? Nothing makes you jump in your chair faster than loud, unexpected noise. Most likely you still had the volume up high from your last Zoom session and now you have this on full blast. Please be considerate to other people and avoid this mistake.
  2. Mega-menus: Have you ever accidentally moved your mouse cursor over a menu and then a full-screen menu pops up and you no longer can see the content underneath it? You keep moving your mouse but it is still inside the menu so it doesn’t disappear. I left many shopping sites due to this horrible UX issue. Don’t be that site.
  3. Horizontal scrolling on pages: This is visually annoying since you cannot use responsive design to fit your content. It’s almost as if the designer used a huge 32″ monitor and not bothered to look at other screen sizes. Making the user move left and right is not natural since most left and right navigational gestures won’t work without hitting those little scroll arrows. Personally, I wouldn’t even try to read the missing content and move on.
  4. Filter checkboxes that re-load the whole page: Visitors will lose their patience eventually if they have more than a few filters to click on. Especially if they have to re-check the filters again after hitting the back button.
  5. Pop-ups and fly-ins: This has always bothered me. I don’t even read what the content shows anymore. I instinctively only search for the “X” to close the box. If you really want me to subscribe to your list, please give away a free product or perk.
  6. Photo carousel or sliders: This element holds the visitor hostage and they have no control over the content they want to see. Now the user has to wait for your 10-second slide to move on to the next slide, again and again until it loops back to the first slide that we saw for a split second. If you do use this, please leave control arrows for the user to move at their own pace.
  7. Animations: Unless you are an animator or artist, using animations should be used sparingly and in good taste. They distract from the attention given to the surrounding context.
  8. Distracting background images: See above, #5. Animations. If the image doesn’t fit into the theme of the site, it shouldn’t be used unless it is the product you are trying to draw attention to.
  9. iFrames: These have been around for a long time and are old design elements of the last decade. iFrames are not compatible with all browsers and may display differently on different browsers. Plus they can pose as a security threat and may even bring down your SEO.
  10. Links opening new tabs: Unless the link goes to an external site, you should keep your site on the same tab. Users may get upset with your site if they now have six tabs open from visiting your site once. They may not use your site again and try your competitor’s site instead.


There are always exceptions to subjective rules. If you use these in good taste and sparingly, the user might not even notice. If you are unsure about using one of the mentioned elements, put yourself in your visitor’s shoes. Imagine what they see from their point of view and go from there.

If you are still unsure if it fits, contact a local web designer like myself to give you pointers or their personal opinion. If you aren’t the type of person to ask for help, google it and form your own opinion. 🙂

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