Web design is a tricky business. Your company may be active in the online space and that’s great, but there is a chance you’re not reaching your potential. There are a lot of common mistakes that people make accidentally, as well as purposeful ones that should be quashed.
There are a lot of useful web design tools and services out there, and no matter how you build your site, there will be ways to improve it. All you need is a critical eye and to take a step back, honestly surveying your work and identifying weak areas.
So, this article will list you the 7 main things you should look out for. It’s likely you haven’t noticed a couple of these, and that’s normal. It usually takes a second pair of eyes to spot common mistakes, so look out for these and your site will thank you for it!
1. That Search Box is Nowhere to Be Found!
Any website is basically a huge compendium of information. Whether you started it last week or last year, users have probably got quite a bit of content to sift through. It’s frustrating to not be able to find the article you want, or search for a keyword you’re interested in. Make sure this capability is there!
Most popular site builders come with a preinstalled search function, so in most cases you shouldn’t have to worry. However, if you don’t have one, you’re not out of options. You can install a Google custom search engine, or, for the more tech-savvy out there, you can use HTML to code your very own search box.
No matter the route you choose, you should at the very least give people options. If for some reason you don’t want a search box, have a site archive instead. This allows you to organize content by month, year or category and should make it easier for people to find what they want.
2. You Tried to Go It Alone, But Don’t
No matter your skill level, it’s near impossible to code a fully functioning, user-friendly website by yourself. No doubt many of you have tried, and have found the workload too much. It’s in scenarios like this that I like to point out that any creative process is a team effort. Filmmaking, songwriting, scripting, you name it. And web design is no different.
Even if you’re just roping in your friends, get a second opinion. Or, use a company like Soap Media to decrease your workload and let the more technical subjects be handled by professionals. In web design, there are often a hundred different balls you have to juggle, so focus on the most important ones first.
3. Broken Links, Everywhere…
Firstly, you should be testing your site thoroughly. If you aren’t, a few bad hyperlinks may slip through your grasp. This is a link that when clicked, leads to an error page or ‘404’ page. Everybody hates them, and with good reason. They disrupt the flow of smooth web browsing, so removing them should be a top priority.
Again, like point number 2, this is a process you can’t complete alone. Even with weekly site tests, there will always be one or two that get away. For this reason, be sure to include an easy to spot ‘Contact’ form somewhere on your website, with a call to action. This will hopefully prompt users to report any broken links to you, meaning you can fix them quickly. Check out these contact form templates for inspiration.
4. Too Many Popups, Annoying Background Music
Have you ever been browsing the web, and all of a sudden a piece of background music has started to blare out? You know the kind I’m talking about. It’s annoying, and is an instant turnoff for the user.
As much as you may think it adds ambience, it more often than not just adds frustration. Your users could be in a public place, at the dinner table or wearing headphones, so sudden noise is bad. In a similar vein, ‘click’ sound effects are a big no-no. They quickly grate on the ears and will probably make them leave your site quickly.
Popups have a similar effect. They can sometimes block content, meaning users won’t be able to read your stuff or navigate a page. If you’re displaying advertisements you should keep your focus on banners, as these are unobtrusive and can sit anywhere on the page.
5. Poorly Written Content and Articles
You may have been so focused on the actual site building that you forgot to include great content. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially considering the amount of work that goes into web design. Your articles may not always be legible, and this is one of the biggest turn-offs for any user.
A good interface will help to grab their attention, so when you have that attention, don’t let basic grammatical issues get in the way. Additionally, using a typeface that is easy to absorb will aid readability, especially on the web.
6. You Disabled the Back Button
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s ultimately deceitful and wrong. It is possible to alter the back button so that when pushed, it redirects to another page on your site. Users will be in an endless loop of your pages, and they’ll also probably be very angry.
Top tip: do not, under any circumstances, attempt this. All that will happen is users will get annoyed, never to return to your site. You want to build a trustworthy relationship with your clientele, and using them in this way isn’t going to accomplish that.
With web design being one of the most sought after skills in the modern era, people of all skill levels are attempting it. This can lead to all sorts of mistakes — some obvious, some not — that can ultimately doom a site to internet hell. However, most errors are relatively simple to fix, so take your critical eye across your site and rectify those mistakes!