These days it seems like everyone has their own website. Whilst this does indicate that the World Wide Web is continuing to grow in popularity and become an increasingly accessible and democratic informational tool, this does concurrently mean that a plethora of terrible website designs litter the space.
If you want your own website to look aesthetically pleasing and to operate well, then these are the five still-common web design mistakes you should try to avoid:
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Flash websites can be stunning in their appearance but it is unfortunate that web pages made up of this coding take a long time to load. The speed in which a website loads is important because users of the WWW are impatient; any load time above five seconds will see users hit their browser’s back button or search for another site to provide the information that they are seeking (this is known as a “bounce”). Websites with a high bounce rate could be seen as less authoritative by Google’s crawlers and this can affect a website’s positional ranking for particular search queries.
Any text-based information contained within Flash elements are not text-proper either (Flash text is actually classified as an image). As such, Google’s crawlers will also find it impossible to index this content. For example, your website could include the very best ‘How To...’ guide for saving money on energy bills in the home environment available across the entire web but Google is unlikely to recognise this fact if this guide is built from Flash.
Flash coding is not the only element of web design that can reduce the loading speed of pages - having too much information within the code for a web page also contributes. Even if the code for a page is neatly constructed, if said code contains lots of text and information for several high-pixel pictures, widgets (such as Twitter and review feeds) and complicated style sheets, there will be a delay.
Reducing the number of components contained within a page limits the number of HTTP requests that need to be completed before the page can load. If your website’s homepage contains information on the “Latest News” relating to your brand, an “About Us” section and generous details regarding every single product that is sold, really do consider splitting this content up amongst several different pages. Image maps can also help to increase your site speed if you want your site to contain many visual delights.
Too Many Advertisements
Advertisements can be a great way for website owners to create themselves a little more revenue but sites which contain too many ads can look spam-like to internet users and their dominance on pages can cause a website to be non-user friendly also, not to mention the fact that their inclusion is another element which can slow down site speed. Banner advertisements are particularly troublesome, for their information is not often hosted on the same server as the website that is hosting them (try to change this if this is possible and their inclusion is paramount).
This common web design mistake is particularly important to eliminate considering a recent algorithm update from Google (dubbed as the “page layout algorithm update” by the search engine) which sees websites which are advertisement-heavy – especially to the top of pages – being position-penalised by the search engine.
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Whilst web pages containing contact and address information for a business are no doubt useful, if this is all that a website contains then the bounce rate is likely to be high. Web pages should include information/articles which are useful and engaging since these are likely to be shared via social media campaigns. This in turn will drive more (and hopefully; demographically targeted) traffic towards your website. A built-in Word press blog can be the perfect place to host such content.
As previously mentioned, web-surfers are notoriously impatient and as such it is important to establish a clear visual content hierarchy as part of your web design. Basically this means ensuring that users are able to find the content that they want easily, without having to scan through endless amounts of text and/or tabs first. In fact, too much information can be as bad as too little when it comes to user-experience. It goes without saying that spelling and grammar are also important – errors make a business seem instantly less trust worthy!
Forgetting About the End User
All of the previous mistakes can be placed under the umbrella of the fifth; designing a website without the end user in mind. Some people consider their business to be their “baby” to such a degree that the needs of the end user can be completely forgotten – or made a secondary consideration – behind the selfish satisfaction of the website owner. As discussed in the previous paragraph, simple navigation for the end-user is critical which means assuming your users are too a little “simple” – everything from social media buttons to comment boxes to links to additional on-site content need to be obviously placed.
Holding the needs of the end user in the highest regard is also great for the content strategy of a website – what advice or useful tips would see a visitor return to a business’s website time and time again?