The 10 Commandments Of Web Design; Not Quite

BusinessWeek recently published an article called The 10 Commandments of Web Design in which it describes these “must-follow rules:”

  1. Thou shalt not abuse Flash.
  2. Thou shalt not hide content.
  3. Thou shalt not clutter.
  4. Thou shalt not overuse glassy reflections.
  5. Thou shalt not name your Web 2.0 company with an unnecessary surplus or dearth of vowels.
  6. Thou shalt worship at the altar of typography.
  7. Thou shalt create immersive experiences.
  8. Thou shalt be social.
  9. Thou shalt embrace proven technologies.
  10. Thou shalt make content king.

While this wouldn’t have been my list of commandments, it contains mostly appropriate things for Web Designers to abide by.  But I need to take exception with two of the items on the list: #7 (Thou shalt create immersive experiences) and #8 (Thou shalt be social). It’s not that those are bad things to do, but they are not the right focus for ALL sites at ALL times. Many Web designs call for simple (non-immersive, non-social) experiences. So these items don’t really hold up as commandments unless you add “where appropriate” at the end of them.

Fyi, we just published our annual “Best And Worst Of B2C Site Design, 2008” report which evaluated sites using Forrester’s 25 criteria. It turns out that the top 5 failures were in these areas: text legibility, task flow, error recovery, privacy policies, and information scent. I’ll discuss a bit more about this research in a later post.

The bottom line: 8 out of 10 right isn’t all that bad.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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