Every now and then, I come across a web page (or a whole site), which by all acceptable standards is not done correctly. Here are a few examples of wrong methods.


Only Use Images For Images

Sounds self-explanatory, but I have seen it too many times, that I feel this needs to be emphasized more. Images, or graphics are only needed where other means cannot easily achieve the same effect. Things, such as photos, icons and other graphics are what requires using bitmap images (PNG, JPEG, GIF, and what have you). Elements, such as text, and simpler graphic elements, like colored boxes, have no business being stuck in the form of an image. Especially text! These days, almost anything can be done just using CSS and HTML5 and JavaScript, but I would forgive most of these “offenses”, but TEXT? There is absolutely no justification of text being presented in an image. Here are some of the disadvantages of text inside graphics:

  • Accessibility: Your website visitors have limited ways that they can interact with the most important component on your page – text, if it’s inside a graphic. 
  • Not searchable: Did you ever find yourself looking for some text on a web page? Well, all the text that’s built into an image is not searchable.
  • Not Selectable: Sometimes, users need to select some text on your page, to maybe copy it and paste to do web search for example. Text on an image is not selectable.
  • Not Search Engine Friendly: Last but certainly not least – All the work that you put in to create all the appealing text on your page is really wasted if you have all that text in an image. If the previous points were only mere inconveniences, this one can mean a real downside for your business. If Google cannot read your web page, it cannot tell its searchers about it.
For those of us who were mostly exposed to print design, it may feel natural that everything, text and all, is included on a single graphical layer printed on paper. But remember, web design is different.

Do Not Use Sound On Your Site

I don’t come across sites automatically forcing music on you very often. But when I do, most of the time it doesn’t help my staying on the page for too long. I admit, on some sites, it might produce the desired effect – maybe for musicians, where it’s understood that music is what they are all about, and thus, it feels natural to have subtle music in the background. But in most any other cases, background music will only help push your visitors out. Remember, web browsing is usually a sound-less experience (as opposed to, say, flipping channels on your TV) , unless the user explicitly chooses to play a video or music. Automatically forcing music on a visitor, especially loud, is seen by most as rude intruding on their browsing.

Do Not Use Flashy Graphics

Style is style, and to a certain degree, it’s a matter of preference. But if you think that just by displaying some silly flashing GIFs, you’re going to sell more – you’re wrong. It depends on the demographic and the nature of your product/service, but in general, flashy graphics quickly wear out visitor’s attention and they will leave your site unimpressed. Yes, there will be certain small percentage of people who will fall in love with this style of presenting, but will you sacrifice the majority of web users for that?

Avoid Flash

Using Flash on your web page can result in combination of the above 3 problems. Using full page flash application, and having everything, all graphics and text, embedded into the flash application, is roughly equivalent to using text inside graphics. Text within Flash is not really searchable (by the browser), and cannot be indexed effectively by search engines. That makes it really bad in terms of accessibility and search engine optimization. Also, just because its very easy to embed sound into Flash, oftentimes that’s exactly what happens, and as I said previously, sound is not really a good idea on web pages. And lastly, because of the very nature of Flash – it’s flashy. And so often times, in a Flash-based site visual effects often tend to overwhelm the usability and informative value. Now, don’t get me wrong – Flash is a great tool, and it has had its time, and held a very irreplaceable spot in web development. For the longest time, nothing else was doing the job quite as good, in the area of web animation. That place now belongs to better alternatives – CSS, JS, HTML5, etc. There is still a place for flash, just very limited – small interactive animations and video players, but never ever use full page flash sites. That’s just a bad idea, and it’s “so yesterday”. These days there are much better ways of achieving the visual effects without sacrificing all that’s good about the web.


I won’t go into other “less troubling” practices in this post. In the future posts I will be sharing more tips on best practices. So, stay tuned for more…. 🙂