Website Faux Pas

The web moves fast – really fast. Not only do people that work in the web have to keep up with the general trends and advances in technology, they need to keep track of what has been effectively left by the roadside in design and development.

That can be a time consuming task, but here at Catholic School Web Design, we’ll do the work for you and let you know about the important stuff that affects school sites all over, as well as Catholic school sites.

We’re starting off this commitment by bringing you a list of things that make people cringe when they visit a website, and are likely to leave your visitor with a diminished impression of your institution. Using deprecated and outdated elements in commercial web design tells your internet savvy visitor (and they’re all internet savvy now) that there isn’t much effort put into maintaining the site, even if there is. A feeling that a visitor is looking at an old, neglected website is a great way to get them to leave – something we’d like to avoid of course.

For some readers, this will be old news. However, we know there are Catholic school sites out there that have these elements, so we’ve got to be thorough!

Horizontally Scrolling Text

The horizontally scrolling text element is usually used to convey news or even a welcome message. The problem is is that a good design should have plenty of room for the elements you need, and scrolling text is just going to agitate and distract your visitor. If you can’t find a place on your page for the messages that were scrolling, that is a good signal that maybe that content doesn’t belong on the page in the first place.

Click here to see an example of horizontally scrolling text.

Auto-playing Music

We want visitors to feel an attachment to the school when they visit a Catholic school website, but we also want to give them control over that experience. One of the biggest violators of that control early on in web development was auto-playing MIDI music, and surprisingly, traces of it are still with us today. If your site has your schools theme song play automatically when they visit, our recommendation is to take it out and go for an opt-in system where the use is in control. That doesn’t just mean letting them turn it off, it means letting them turn it on in the first place.

Also, general rule of thumb is if it’s a MIDI file, leave it out.

Click here to see (and hear) and example of an auto-playing song.

Animated GIFs

Remember the dancing baby? That was an animated GIF. GIFs are image types that allow the saving of different states that browsers can play back sequentially and loop, making them like little flip books. In the early days of the web these were very popular, and – once again – we find them here and there on Catholic school sites.

The problem with animated GIFs is that they tend to be jerky, short, and unnecessary. If there is movement somewhere in your page, that is going to draw the visitors attention to that area and detract from the content that should be the focus of the page. If the animated GIF is the content of the page, then its probably time to rethink that page altogether.

Click here for an example of an animated GIF.

Tiled Backgrounds

This one is a tricky one, because tiled backgrounds can be used very effectively in a design, and that usually means that the fact that they are tiled is hidden in some form. The kind of tiled backgrounds we’re talking about here are the ones that use unnecessary patterns and designs in the background and repeat those through the tiling process. This usually leads to a large amount of unnecessary visual clutter.

Click here for an example of a tiled background.

So, if your school website is a decade old and you don’t have the time or the money to do an overhaul just yet, getting rid of these elements (if they are present) will help out immediately!