Hooooo boy. This list has been a long time coming. I've amassed quite a few for this list over the years, but I'll just give you the doozies. While there are thousands of fabulous websites to see, there are still way that are struggling with the basics. Ask any graphic designer and they'll probably have a similar list. Avoid the following pitfalls like the plague. You'll be glad you did.
1. I'm still waiting
Do all you can to avoid long load times for your site. Users are on faster connections these days but that doesn't give you leeway to load up your site with huge graphics. No one will wait, so make sure it loads fast. Optimize your graphics.
2. Obtrusive advertising
No one wants to sit through an ad, everyone clicks the skip button so let’s just skip it all together. (And, if there's anyone out there who still thinks they're cool, this includes intro animations.) Find better ways to advertise than popups and interruptions. You'll see the appreciation in your statistics.
3. Bad navigation
Unclear, inconsistent, hidden...don't make your users work when they come to your site. Simple is always better. Use language that is self-explanatory and make sure it's easy to find, understand, and use.
4. Screaming graphics
Bigger, brighter, bolder is not better. If everything screams then you can’t hear anything - and no one likes to be screamed at. Choose the most important message on your site, and then on each interior page and let that be the star. Everything else is chatter and should be kept to a minimum.
5. Ain't so good with spelling and grammar
If you not a good writer, hire a copywriter. If that doesn’t fit into your budget then at least run a spell check before posting.
6. Stop! stop! my eyes!
I’m all for drama, but let's avoid giving people headaches. Large areas of white type on a black background... colors that "buzz"... repetitive flashing graphics... too much contrast or too little contrast... the list goes on and on. If you're not good with color or design, hire a good designer and let them do it for you.
7. Comic sans - see you in the funny papers
I'm about the thousandth designer to say it but it bears repeating because unbelievably - I'm still seeing it out there. The font Comic Sans does not belong anywhere on a professional website. I'd like to say it would be appropriate for a children's website but even then - it's just ugly. Don't use it. Please. Just choose a font that represents your company well.
Unless you are in the business of selling music, there is no reason to have music on your website. It’s annoying to everyone, trust me. Lose it.
9. Can't see the forest for the trees
One thing most designers are really good at is white space, and for many clients this is a bone of contention. "What's that blank space there? can't we fill it with something?". The answer is no. The negative space is every bit as important as the positive. This is all about focal point and making sure your message is heard. Let the designer leave strategic bits of white space around your page. Your messaging will thank you.