August 6, 2019 - Pawel Mansfeld

Common Web Design Mistakes

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I do not consider myself as an outstanding expert after creating a few websites. Yes, I’m graduated in Computer Science, but it does not give me a “monopoly” for the truth. In this article, I would like to show web design mistakes and unprofessional practices, which I sometimes notice when browsing all kinds of websites.

#1: Background music

I am an avid music lover, I have hundreds of CDs and I take an iPhone when I leave home more to listen to music than to make phone calls. However, I think that there is no place for it on business websites, especially if it is played by default. Why? It steals the bandwidth (of course, the page will load longer), It can irritate people who already have some music turned on and even if someone does not listen to anything at the moment, it’s hard to satisfy everyone. Fortunately, in popular browsers, autoplay is blocked (but it is still possible when user will try to interact with the page eg, click on a button).

#2: Chaos

Menu and transitions between subpages must provide smooth navigation and simplicity that allow going wherever the user wants. User Experience and the ability to organize information and build website architecture are very important.

One of the first stages of creating a professional website is to create its architecture or simply plan how it will be divided into subpages. Of course, during this step you can change the details, what is more, important is to have a coherent idea, which we will be guiding in the construction of subsequent subpages of the website.

#3: Welcome page

I don’t get why developers use some kinds of welcome pages.

  • potential guests are forced to click on the “enter” button,
  • website has weaker results in search engines.

The “Click & Hold” button that can be seen on designer pages is a trick to enable automatic audio playback. The same problem applies to websites created for two businesses at once. This is very bad both in terms of user experience and search engine optimization.

#4: Lack of mobile optimization

More and more people use mobile devices. Of course, Responsive Web Design provides better user experience but did you know that webpages adapted to mobile devices have a strong SEO boost?

Pages nowadays need to look better on a smartphone than on a computer. If we have an online store and our customers are young (I mean teenagers and 20+) mobile traffic will be huge. Modern websites should be made with a mobile-first strategy. The idea is easy to understand, it just means that the basic version of the website is the mobile version and the computer version is its complement.

#5: Invalid HTML Syntax

The HTML specification is a strict guide on how to create websites. Although this language forgives a lot and gives freedom in the use of tags and attributes, using them as intended will have the same advantages: the site will work properly on all devices and will be ranked well in Google.

It’s important to know that the syntax code precision is one thing, but it is worth paying attention to how the data architecture is constructed. Semantics can’t be tested by any code analyzer, what counts here is the knowledge and awareness of the person preparing the front-end code. Nowadays, a lack of proper marking of subsequent articles, navigation, content, and metadata can be classified as an error.

#6: Pop-up madness

I think that there is no worst thing that one pop-up on another pop-up that is placed on another alert and so on…

If you want to communicate something important, use a properly constructed homepage. Don’t overdo it with Call To Action – it’s just unprofessional. Remember that experts don’t look for clients, but the clients look for experts. Just because you add a window that begs for a phone number or e-mail, it doesn’t mean that more people will come to you. In some industries, this can work just the opposite.

#7: Lack of relevant and useful content

Product catalogs without prices or websites that contain only a list of services waste it’s potential. If you have no idea how to make interesting content, try to run a blog or FAQ section. Websites with unique descriptions and a lot of good content, that gives some additional value have better search engine positions and convert your visitors to customers much easier. A convenient content management system like WordPress should motivate everyone to run an interesting website and update it, regardless of the industry or size of the business.

PROTIP: Older blog posts (as well as other subpages) are worth updating – this is a much better practice than duplicating the same thing over and over again or creating a mass of unfinished articles that must be indexed and gather SEO authority from the scratch.

#8: Unoptimized media and images

The quality of the pictures is a very important thing on the website. If the site needs a larger transfer and the photos or the thumbnails themselves are loading slowly, we are dealing with a serious problem. The fault of the slowly loading page is never the user’s responsibility. A website can contain thousands of photos, even on one subpage, but web designer or editor must skillfully place them.

The second thing is the visual quality of the photos – the wrong choice of format and resolution can cause that the photos look simply unattractive. My advice: if you don’t have good photos, don’t publish them at all. You can read more about image quality and optimization in my other articles.

#9: Unattractive UI and graphic design

It pays to make an attractive and aesthetic graphic design of the website. Trust me, there is no better way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Of course, your new website does not have to win a Site of The Day awards in AWWWARDS. Just show professionalism and that you care about the positive experiences of your website users.

#10 Using ready-made website templates

Templates are a good option for bloggers or people who are “testing an idea”. However, it is an exaggeration to create the entire page using a specific template for specific company website, where optimization is crucial and the client is ready to pay extra for really high quality.

Website templates have their advantages and disadvantages, you must be aware that this is a compromise. Making a website in this way is cheap but it will be harder to adapt to new standards and will not be optimally optimized for users. Page templates are often responsible for the lack of visual consistency and the adaptation of the page interface to the style and character of the company logo type or fonts used in other advertising materials.

Where do these errors come from?

There are three main reasons (I apologize in advance for honesty).

The first is that, the creation of the site was simply done by an inexperienced person or “advertising company”. Sometimes the only solution is to create a new page or correct the most obvious errors.

The second reason may be that the client knew everything better and simply pushed his ideas about how his website should look like. Customer knowledge and intuition is invaluable, but you need to manage it properly. It is difficult even for me to sometimes “subdue” the client and most projects unfortunately do not go to my portfolio…

The third case is quite obvious. Some people simply cannot establish long-term cooperation with one contractor and website is edited many times with many freelancers or agencies. As a result, none of the contractors care about quality, everyone makes compromises so that they can finish the taks quickly and … the page after a few such corrections is what it is.