If you own a small business and you want to build an online presence for it, the site conveys the brand’s message to the target audience. You want the best representative for that message, don’t you? For those who engage in web design for the first time, the process seems easy at first. “I’ll just start a free WordPress project and get it done in an hour.” It doesn’t take long before they get utterly overwhelmed.
Even when based on pre-made templates, web design is still hard. It should reflect the brand’s spirit. In addition to technical skills, the process also requires a great deal of enthusiasm. You can’t just copy a competitor’s work and call it the industry standard.
Your website is an essential element of the branding process. Any mistakes along the way are very expensive for the brand. You can’t afford the luxury of fixing mistakes later on, so why not simply avoid them?
7 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Web Design
We’ll list 7 common mistakes that beginners make when designing websites. If you avoid these, you’ll be on your way to a successful design.
1. Follow the Industry Standard
In 2018, a scandal shook the yoga industry. Alo/Cody and Omstars, two of the most influential brands in the online yoga world, got into a disagreement that was very public. Business owners have many lessons to learn from that situation. But let’s leave that drama aside. Today, we’re focusing on design issues.
The owners of Cody blamed the Omstars owners for copying the Cody site. In their public letter, they included screenshots showing the clear similarities between the two sites. The owner of Omstars called that the industry standard.
There’s no industry standard that imposes copying pages from other sites. Such practices have a name: plagiarism. When you copy content from another site, its owner has every right to take legal action against you. Before that final step, they will try to take your website down.
Why get into such a clash when you can create your own content? Yes; you’ll include FAQs, guarantees, and other similar things that other sites also have. But the content on those pages has to be 100% unique.
Do you know what most business owners do when they start their websites? They hire a custom essay service or freelance writers to create unique content for them. When you combine a unique design with an original message, you’re on point.
Flash is bad because it doesn’t work on mobile. It’s an outdated technology that seriously hurts your search engine results ranking.
2. Using Flash
You must be really new to web design if you plan to include Flash elements in it. Flash is finally being left in history, where it belongs. All major browsers will stop supporting it sooner than you hope.
Why did this happen? There are multiple reasons behind the retirement of Flash: it was inefficient since it consumed a lot of power and slowed down the loading time. It didn’t work on iOS devices. Steve Jobs made that decision after realizing that Flash consumed too much memory and drained too much battery. There were a lot of security issues, too. Who wants malware and bugs?
3. Not Designed for Mobile First
Google has already called out web designers to prepare for mobile first indexing. In July 2019, the search engine started indexing and ranking the mobile version of a site before its desktop version.
If you opt for a responsive design that works well on both desktop and mobile, this doesn’t mean much for you. But if you choose to have separate URLs for the desktop and mobile versions, Google will prioritize the mobile site for indexing.
Dynamic serving is a huge personalization trend. If you design a site that serves content based on the user’s devices, you should be ready for mobile-first indexing as well.
What does this mean for you?
When developing content, you must include it on your mobile site as well. All structured and metadata should be available there, too. Consider the fact that Google will crawl the mobile instead of the desktop site. So focus on making it perfect!
4. Neglecting the Importance of SEO
You will build a fast, secure, and beautiful website. You’ll go through essay service reviews to assemble the best team of writers and editors, who understand your message and help you share it. You’ll be regular with the content updates and you’ll invest all possible efforts in analytics. Who needs SEO when you have all that?
Whoa, not so fast! Speed, content quality, and all technical elements are really important. That doesn’t make SEO any less important, though.
Implementing the right keywords and phrases into context matters a lot. Imagine someone using a voice search to ask the exact question that you used as a subheading. Of course, Google will notice that. It’s more likely to get your page featured in the most relevant results.
Search engine optimization is hard work. It demands a lot of research, financial investment, and analytics. When done well, it pays off. It gets your site high in the search engine results. That brings more visitors your way. When you get them at your site, you get an opportunity to convert them into paying customers of your business. That’s not something you want to avoid.
5. Too Many Ads that are Irrelevant
If you want to monetize a website, ads are necessary. But positioning ads in places that are too visible and making them completely irrelevant to the point of your site is a sure recipe for a web design disaster.
Imagine landing on a website that features film reviews. You’re creating your movie list for the next year and you want to add some classics to it. So you discover the site of this really awesome film critic and the ads prevent you from focusing on the content. You see ads for engagement rings and those dresses that your girlfriend checked out when she was using your computer.
That makes you nervous, doesn’t it?
The same thing happens when visitors to your website see irrelevant ads.
If you’re going to feature advertisements, make them useful for your target audience. This film critic’s site would benefit from ads from sites that sell theatre tickets.
Also, you shouldn’t make the ads too noisy. Forget about video ads with automated sound! Forget about making them the most noticeable element of the design. Forget about pop-ups! Make the ads as subtle as possible. If your website is awesome in all its elements, businesses will be interested in the promotion even if it’s not totally out there.
6. Not Making It Reader-Friendly
Did you know that long-form content had greater chances to rank well on search engines? It’s true. Google wants to lead its users towards complete answers. That’s because people want to find all the information they need at a single site. It’s more convenient when compared to doing multiple searches and bouncing from one page to another.
Does this mean you should compress a huge text on a page, making it impossible to read? No. It’s important to break it up into small paragraphs with subtitles, bullet points, tables, and other elements that make it easier to digest. Visuals are also important.
Check out Tim Urban from Wait But Why Does It? He broke up a huge post into several chapters that he releases on a weekly basis. Each post contains fun visuals that contribute towards the essential message. The posts are still long, but they are so easy to read that you don’t notice how time goes by while you’re at that website. That’s the effect you want to achieve. Fun content is your main focus, but the way you present it matters, too.
7. Automatic Video/Audio
We already mentioned this mistake in the context of autoplay video ads. But if it’s your own content, you still don’t have the foundation to force it to your audience.
I know; IMDB does it. It also makes people hate the site for it. They want to see information about a particular movie, so they open the page in a tab, along with a few other tabs from other sites. Suddenly they hear loud noises and they freak out. They know they haven’t hit play on anything. There’s a sign on the tab that shows where the sound comes from. Do you know what the first instinct is? CLOSE THAT TAB! Do you really think people are going to open it and scroll to see where the sound is coming from? You made them nervous, so they won’t give you that kind of attention. They will get the same information at another site.
Please don’t make this mistake!
Are You On the Right Track?
When designing your first website, you’ll find many tips on what to do. Sometimes they contradict each other. You get confused.
There’s a simpler approach: focus on what not to do first. When you eliminate potential mistakes, it’s easier for you to do the right things.