Knowing what NOT to do can be as important as knowing what to do
We recently wrote about Five Things Your Website Needs. But what about the things your website should avoid? We can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes, and there are some really frequent errors in the world of web design and development. Here are five of the most common mistakes that your website definitely should NOT do:
1. Don’t waste your homepage header.
You get a precious few seconds to make an impression on a new visitor coming to your website. It’s important to grab their attention right away, and the best way to do that is to make the top of your homepage a hero section. This is prime real estate, and it’s important to make the best use of it. You can use it to give a succinct description of what you are all about, or to send the visitor to an important conversion point. Whatever you do, make sure it’s engaging. Capture your users’ interest right away and they’ll be more willing to keep reading.
2. Don’t neglect your mobile site.
Around half of all web traffic is mobile traffic. You need to make sure your website looks great AND functions well for users on a phone or tablet. The content should be easy to read, and the layout should be simple and easy to navigate. Some sites make the mistake of having a complex menu system that doesn’t work well on smaller screens. Double-check that your menu isn’t too long, and that it’s easy to navigate. Otherwise, some of your users may not be able to get to all of your pages. Too often the mobile version of a site is an afterthought, but that’s exactly the wrong way to think of your website: mobile usability is probably more important than desktop.
3. Don’t make your content hard to read.
One of the most basic things you should remember: don’t use an illegible font. There are oodles of fancy fonts you can use on your site, but keep the complicated scripts and decorative typefaces to a minimum. If you want someone to read paragraph after paragraph of your content, the font should be easy to read. Size is also important. Make it too small and people will struggle to read it. Make it too big and it will turn people off. Find the sweet spot, and everyone will be able read all of the fantastic copy you’ve written.
4. Don’t keep your content fenced in.
Another important element to good web design is being able to view the content easily. Don’t hide all of your main copy away in images or break it up with tabs, especially if those tabs aren’t easy to see. The more you make someone work to read the content, the less likely they will be to actually do so. There are lots of fun animations and functions you can add to your website, but when it comes to the main content area, less can be more. Your content is amazing and valuable, and you don’t want the end-user to miss it because they can’t see it easily.
5. Don’t use bad imagery.
Content is king when it comes to websites. If you’ve written a ton of amazing content and displayed it so people can easily access it, you don’t want to ruin the look of the page with a picture that is pixelated or badly framed. The actual quality of the image is very important: people don’t want to look at grainy, rasterized images that have to be blown up to fit your layout. The composition of your images are important as well. We are past the point of web design where you can just quickly take a photo with your cell phone and plop it on your website. Your imagery is helping to sell your product or service. Make sure it’s inviting and says something important about your products or services. You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional photographer (though it would probably be money well-spent), but you should at least think about shot composition. Is it well-lit, in focus, and is the subject clear? You don’t want to have a top-notch website ruined by poor photography and imagery.
There are plenty of other mistakes, but these five things are some of the most frequent. Keep these in mind during your next website project, and you’ll be well on your way to having a fantastic site that generates results.