Whether you are a business that operates solely online or a small company that simply requires a web presence so their potential clients know where to get in touch and how to find them you should always try to make your website as user friendly as possible so you don't annoy or alienate your visitors and potential clients.
There are lots of mistakes that web designers do make when building a new website, some minor ones and some major ones and it's not just the do it yourself designers who make mistakes simply due to their lack of knowledge in the web design industry but I've seen many so called professional web design companies making mistakes, sometime so big that it could potentially ruin the web site owners chances for succeeding online.
Here are 4 of the most common mistakes made by web designers
This is one of the biggest mistakes I've come across in recent years. Back when the internet was still quite young say early 2000's you built a website for a single platform - a computer - so people didn't need to worry about any other devices because there simply weren't any.
Nowadays it's a whole other kettle of fish, we have people using a full range of different screen resolutions and monitor sizes, laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones so a website must be optimised for every single device and resolution so no designer should be building a static website with a fixed width, a website must respond (hence the term responsive web design) to the screen size it is being viewed on to give the visitor the most optimised and usable version of the website.
I've simply lost count of how many times I've come across a website that is not just non responsive and non mobile compliant and has obviously been built based on the resolution of the designers monitor making the site look awful on any other resolution and device.
First off make sure you are using a responsive grid, if you're not a professional designer/coder then Twitter's Bootstrap framework is a good starting point.
Throughout the design and development process you should be testing your website on different devices and monitor resolutions to make sure that every visitor gets the most optimal experience.
I've experienced this many times, I visit a website and even as a professional web designer I sometimes struggle to find the correct links or pages that I need, sometimes it's down to a poorly put together menu structure and sometimes it down top the web designer trying to be too clever and using graphic links embedded in pictures.
A rule of thumb is to keep your menu systems clear and easy to navigate, test your menu structure across all resolutions and devices and follow a typical structure that people know, don't try to be clever by introducing your own structure and way of doing things such as sideways sliding dropdowns and other unique styling.
This is a mistake mainly made by people creating their own websites via open source software or drag and drop website builders. They see all these fantastic dynamic features, sliding banner images, popover effects, parallax scrollers etc and want to incorporate them all into their website, sometimes multiple times on the same page. Now these open source software packages and drag and drop website builders are already code heavy and slower than their professionally designed bespoke cousins so adding a multitude of extras slows the website down to a point of being unusable.
My advice if you are going down the DIY route is to first off choose an open source framework over an online drag and drop website builder and limit your extras and addons to just what you need.
Now this is a mistake not only made by people 'having a go' and creating their own website but I've come across professional designers making the same mistake due to giving the client what they want rather than doing a professional job.
The client sees all of these eye-catching dynamic features on other websites and wants to incorporate them all, now it's the designers/developers job to say 'no' to the client, believe me the client will respect you for this, it's happened to me on a number of occasions where the client has requested lots of pointless aesthetic extras and I've advised against it, now I've not just said no to them without an explanation, that would be unprofessional, I've explained why it's a bad idea and given advice and alternatives.
Remember as a designer/developer it's your job to make a website that not only looks good but helps the clients business, in web design the customer is 'not' always right
Lots of online businesses depend on good search engine rankings, now search engine optimisation is something that is very time consuming and drawn out, it can take months for Google and other search engines to recognise you as an authoritative website and give you good rankings, search engine optimisation is something you can do yourself contrary to popular belief, you don't need to hire a professional marketing company - to be honest lots of so called a professional marketing companies are clueless anyway and are just jumping on the SEO bandwagon which I'll speak about in a future article - however you must make sure you follow the correct advice and check that you are not reading out or date information.
One common mistake that people make is writing content for the search engines and not a human visitor, doing things like using repetitive phrases throughout your text and keyword stuffing, these tricks used to work prior to google's now infamous penguin and panda updates but nowadays have a opposite effect.
The tip is to simply write good grammatically correct content, write for a human reader and Google will reward you for your efforts. Unfortunately there is no quick route when it comes to ranking high on Google
I hope these quick tips help both professional designers and do it yourself designers create better websites.