Much like wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony are transgressions fatal to spiritual progress, web design sins are fatal to form and function progress.  Avoiding the following (venial and mortal) sins and aspiring to heavenly design virtues will help keep you from the fiery pits of Internet damnation.

1. Too Much Template

Website templates are a convenient, inexpensive and quick way to create a website. They are also an excellent way to bore your audience and make you look foolish, lazy and unoriginal if you over do it.  Most template purveyors brag about industry specific templates.  If you think about it, what that really means is that competitors will be using the same stock images, graphics and layouts.

Mortal Sin
Leaving the template provided ipso text up.

Heavenly Virtue
A template can and should be used to create cohesiveness and to keep navigational elements in place.

2. Grating Graphics

There are few things more irritating than waiting for unnecessarily oversized images to load.  A few lesser contenders include missing graphics with no alt labels and images that don’t fit on the screen, forcing you to scroll horizontally.

Venial Sin
Thumbnails that link to full-sized images that are barely larger than the thumbs.

Heavenly Virtue
Graphics that compliment the content and are visually appealing.

3. Sensory Overload

Sensory Overload Website

Is your website seizure inducing? Unless you are promoting a warehouse rave, avoid using anything that should come with a warning for epileptics.  Avoid neon or other bright backgrounds, blinking special effects, cursor trailers, pop up windows, animated gif, scrolling marquees, web counters and long flash-intros. They are all just a bunch of eye (sore) candy that make it more difficult to find relevant information.

Mortal Sin
While you may think your choice of music complements the web experience, trust me it doesn’t. Nothing is more jarring than a computer suddenly belting out tinny music when you don’t expect it.

Heavenly Virtue
Using a color contrast analyzer to make sure text and background colors work well together.

4. Where the Hell Am I?

When someone visits your website, they inevitably fall into one of two categories, first timers or repeat visitors.  The first group wants to find out what you are about and the second group is usually in need of some quick information, like scheduling or contact information.  As simple and as logical as it may seem to make that information easily accessible, countless websites ignore the needs of one or the other group or both.  Unclear navigation or overly complex navigation make it hard (or impossible) for visitors to get their desired information.

Mortal Sin
Orphan pages with no links back, no links home and no identification.

Heavenly Virtue
A well thought out navigation system with an intuitive layout make for happy web visitors.

5. Terrible Text

Readable Text for Webdesign

Sometimes too much choice can be a bad thing. Take text for example.  While today there are thousands of fonts and color combinations to choose from, using the vast majority of them is a really bad idea.  The best bet is to go generic and keep the font size larger than 8 point. Text should also be easy to scan, so avoid huge blocks of paragraphs, especially all in bold or italics.

Mortal Sin
Any type of blinking text

Heavenly Virtue
Using a clean sans serif font in an easy to read contrasting color.

6. Lame Links

Lame Links

While many people love mysteries, they usually don’t appreciate them when it comes to website visits.  Links should be clear about where they are going to take you, and they should also let you know where you have been.  When visited links don’t change color, users may unintentionally revisit the same pages repeatedly.

Mortal Sin
Nothing says amateur and ugly more than default electric blue links on text or bordered around graphics

Heavenly Virtue
Easily identifiable links

7. Absence of Aesthetics

Yes, websites need to be functional, but they also need to be aesthetically pleasing.  The layout should draw you into the key part of the page. A sense of symmetry is best, but the key elements of a page shouldn’t be centered. You’ll want to avoid having no focal point or too many focal points on the page.  The background should enhance and frame the key elements rather than distract from them.

Mortal Sin
Blinking neon wallpaper

Heavenly Virtue
Finding the perfect balance between graphics, color, fonts, photos and layout.