Any creative process will involve some degree of trial and error and web design is no exception. Eliminating web design mistakes completely is all but impossible, however you can avoid falling into common traps and getting as much right as possible. Unlike a printed brochure or a video, a website can continuously evolve and improve over time. However getting it right from the beginning and launch is important.
Here are some common web design mistakes:
#1 Not considering SEO ranking factors and web design together
Most websites promote something or sell products which means that search engine rankings matter. Web design and SEO (search engine optimization) should be considered together when you’re planning a new web design or considering minor changes.
There are many pitfalls to avoid but here are some examples that we have encountered over the years:
- Over-reliance on large images, videos or big sliders – if not done properly this can slow the download speed of your website which is a ranking factor for Google and other search engines.
- Not having the right hierarchy of HTML tags, H1, H2, H3 etc – we have seen this in some designs for clients where the web designer has been a little random in using tags, which meant that all headings were tagged H1, which Google, particularly does not like as it is classed as a Black Hat SEO technique for spamming Google.
- Not using a content management system, e-commerce platform or static HTML pages that allow the editing of keyword rich meta tags, particularly the meta title and meta description as these are used by Google for indexing the pages and display in search engine results pages (SERPS).
- Not thinking about the user experience – it’s a cliché, but always think about content, facilities and features that will not only help your visitors but make it more likely that they will link to pages on your website, share on social media or recommend your website to others.
We have written a blog post on the over 200 ranking factors for Google and other search engines.
#2 Website not mobile friendly or not tested properly on mobiles
Last year’s mobile friendly for Google, meant that websites that are deemed mobile friendly will feature higher in search results for anyone using Google on a mobile or tablet. Therefore websites need to be a responsive web design so they display properly but crucially are still usable across all devices.
Your buttons, forms and shopping cart should still be usable whatever device people are using; people regularly use a laptop, PC, mobile and tablet on the same website. You can test your website on Google’s own online mobile friendly test website or the more stringent mobile friendly testing service offered by W3C.
#3 Not doing your research into competitors and similar services
As Oscar Wilde once said “Talent borrows, genius steals”, so don’t worry about researching similar websites or competitors as this will often spark original ideas of your own.
Keyword research helps with the writing of your content. This helps avoid slipping too easily into familiar jargon that you, as the expert, might use daily but potential customers or clients may not understand or use completely different terms to describe the same thing.
#4 Not breaking up the content into headings, short paragraphs and sentences
Internet pages aren’t books, so people will often scan read a page a page to decide if they want to read the content in detail. Therefore a common web design mistake is to have large blocks of text that aren’t broken up by bolds, headings, bullet lists, short paragraphs etc.
Although there is some great writing to be found on the Internet, literary prize winning text is thin on the ground.
Anything that aids readability is a must, so don’t stray too far from variations of dark text on light backgrounds, unless you are redoing the website for a death metal rock band. People can find reversed out text very difficult to read even if they have good eyesight.
#5 Not looking at KPIs (key performance indicators) and reviewing for continuous improvement
You can’t manage what you don’t measure so if you don’t have access to Google Analytics or other web traffic data then you can’t judge the effectiveness of your investment and where you need to make improvements. As ever you should consider the advice of your SEO consultant or web designer as long as it is based on evidence from the web traffic data.
There are many potential web design mistakes and no website is perfect, however the ones discussed here are key areas that should always be eliminated.