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A mistake overly enthusiastic web designers and clients can make is adding features to their site because they can—rather than because they need it. A website has a purpose (to sell product, generate leads, etc). Any website feature that does not aid that goal is either pointless or dangerous. Here I outline some pointless or potentially dangerous website features.

Hit counters and other meaningless statistics

Hit counters form part of the legacy left to us by the rather shocking-looking websites of the nineties. Gathering website statistics are useful (essential even) but a generic hit counter is extremely antiquated. That is not to say you shouldn’t record and publish how many times articles, etc have been viewed, as these can be useful to the visitor.

Some sites go one further and display stats like “this page loaded in 0.09 seconds”. Ask yourself, what value is that bringing to your site?

Auto-playing audio

Any media that contains audio and plays automatically can make a user hit the back button. If you arrive at a site and a video or some background music on loop plays automatically, a user may leave your site. Consider visitors who may be listening to the radio or some other media while surfing the Internet. As a rule-of-thumb, always let the user initiate any media that plays audio—include those largely irritating talking characters. Silent video is okay if the user has an option to click the unmute button.

Editable look-and-feel

Websites that allow the visitor to have too much say over the look-and-feel can make for an incongruent user experience. Some websites have different “skins”; they can taint the website experience and damage your brand.

Splash screens

Splash screen not only harm your search engine positions, they turn away visitors. Why add an extra barrier to your website’s content?

Date and time

Unless you’re an online magazine, a site can look odd if it has a clock widget or displays the date and time. After all, not everyone who uses your site is in the same time zone—therefore the time may be wrong and make your site lack credibility.

Unused content management systems

If you have a content management system (CMS) to publish transient content for things like news and events, make sure you use it! If someone visits your site and the latest news item is a couple of years old, it may put people off.

Validation links/logos

There are certain standards a website can adhere to in terms of all the code that makes the web page look like it does. Some sites like to boast about this and display links/logos on their web page. I am of the opinion that a website should be built properly as a matter of good practice.

If you’d like a site without any pointless or potentially dangerous features call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.

Tim Bennett is a Leeds-based web designer from Yorkshire. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.