By Erik Wong, GoDaddy

Websites are like snowflakes: no two are ever quite the same. They’re often a reflection of the designer’s creativity, the utility of the site itself, or an example of a current trend in design communities. If you’re a small business looking to make an impression with your customer base online, it’d be in your best interest to pay attention to those design factors to ensure that said impression be a damn fine one.

You see, as varied as our preferences are, there are a handful of design choices many people find almost universally poor in taste. As your partner in your online presence, GoDaddy does not want you to be “That Guy” — you know, the one with the outdated or obnoxious website packed with blinking headlines, rainbow hues, bedazzled backgrounds and cluttered copy.

So when designing your site, here are four major content mistakes to avoid at all costs:

Flashy or color changing text  

Hang on, my satellite phone is ringing … 1999 called and it wants its site designs back. But seriously, while still useful for things like Craigslist ads, flashing or color-changing text is one of the most obnoxious and stubborn holdovers to web designs from the past. A well-designed site with good content doesn’t need to rely on gimmicks to draw your attention to key areas.

Like the old adage goes, saying the wrong thing louder doesn’t make it right.

Hard to find or out-of-place information

Don’t hide menus or button in the clutter of your pages, and be sure to include all relevant information in plain sight, including prices, menus, service areas, and so on. If you run a physical business, display your hours and location(s) clearly in an obvious place on your site. You would think this goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many sites overlook this kind of stuff.

Poorly-created videos

Having videos on your site is a terrific idea. It keeps your customers engaged and gives you dynamic content to break up monotony. We know you aren’t Michael Bay, though, and we forgive you for that. Your video doesn’t have to be extravagant and it shouldn’t even cost you anything to create. While I’ve covered things to avoid when making a video for your site already, I feel it’s important to touch on just a few of the major no-no’s before the camera rolls:

  • Don’t wing it, have a script and a controlled environment.
  • Use a tripod or stand to keep the camera stable to prevent the shaky-cam look.
  • Speak clearly and concisely; avoid muttering, heavy breathing, and filler words (“Umm,” “like,” and “you know”).

And if you do have videos or audio on your site, DO NOT set it to auto play once the page loads. I may be an extreme example, but the last time I went to a website that had an auto play video, I threw my speakers in the garbage out of spite. Now I can’t hear anything…

Busy, busy backgrounds!

A common misconception about website backgrounds is that they’re just another place to display information or set the stage for your site. The reality is video, .gif, or slideshow backgrounds only distract from the actual content on the page. Think of it like the walls of your house. You don’t need LIVING ROOM painted in big red letters to tell your guests the room they’re in. The sofa, TV and coffee table convey that information just as well.

You want your background, like the walls of your house, to accent the content of the site and frame the major areas of information, not to distract from them

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, as long as we have covered the basic Do’s and Don’t Evers you should have a solid foundation to build a truly kick-ass website that you can be proud of. If you have any friends who still follow the old design tropes, show them your modern makeover or recommend a visit to GoDaddy for help. Remember: friends don’t let friends design obliviously.

About the Author

Erik Wong is a small business/tech consultant for GoDaddy and a freelance pop-culture writer. He has written a regular column for a current events blog, and his commentary has been featured on Connect with Erik on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

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Don’t Design like it’s 1999 – 4 Website Design Choices that make Viewers Cringe