Quick Tip: Five don'ts of web design

Ryan Boudreaux lists his top five don'ts for web design and explains why they're not good ideas.

There are a plethora of best practices and guidelines for web design, and many fall within two categories, either the do's or the don'ts. These might change places every now and then, but most likely these don'ts will end up on someone's "to-do" list to fix or change. Sorting through the vast list of what not to do in web design, I've come up with my top five, which I'll explain in some detail below.


#1 Create a Splash page

With the advent of HTML 5 there is a level of controversy surrounding the use of Flash and since most splash pages are created in Flash, it is not a surprise that these seem to be on the wane. Splash pages are particularly overdone in many instances with long load times, several minutes of artful graphics, and no navigation. The exceptions are few and far between. Many splash pages can last up to a minute or more and these become tiring quickly when you want to get into the meat of the content on a web page. Besides that fact, most visitors click through or just leave sites to avoid splash pages; web browsers also have a hard time indexing them in their ranking systems.

#2 Mix HTTP with HTTPS resources

Security is the point with HTTPS, so why is that you find many web documents that contain a mix of both resources when the intention is to transmit secure data? One of the issues with mixing the two together is caching that occurs, and another is the unsecure data that can be picked up along the way and replaced with counterfeit, spurious content or other exploits. One way around this is to use JavaScript or other means which can be utilized to call a separate secure "portal" window as https so that the secure resources are completely separate from the non-secured http.

#3 Link pages to themselves

This offense is still on many lists, and I cannot count how many times I still see this on websites today. Visitors get confused, cannot remember what page they are on, and forget if they clicked on that link or not when the same page refreshes. It is just not a good practice to link any page to within itself.

#4 Resize the browser window

Many frown on this tactic from an end user standpoint since they end up losing all control of the browser screen size. Most folks have their window size set a certain way and typically will close out any sites that automatically change the browser window.

#5 Use frames

Some websites still use them, especially for badges, widgets, and embedded content on a small scale, but typically the widespread use of frames has fallen. Here are a few reasons why frames create weaknesses for websites:

  • Search engines have trouble reading content within frames.
  • Not all browsers support frames
  • Add a favorite or bookmarking a frame generally will not work correctly
  • Framed websites often do not close properly when content is viewed through several frames.
  • Printing web content within frames becomes problematic, and typically requires a separate "print friendly" option as a work around.


Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal g...

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