Take a seat with our Lead Front End Developer, Jeff Aspenburg as he discusses the four most common web design mistakes he runs into on a regularly basis. And if you’re guilty of any, no worries! We can help set your website straight. Let’s dive in.
Mistake #1: Terrible/Unfocused Navigation
“Sometimes, navigation on a particular site is hard to navigate—kind of counter intuitive. Often times, I’ll see navigation items that just don’t belong. Like, if you have a page that lists all of your features, they should all be there. There shouldn’t be random features spread throughout other navigation menus. Sometimes what you’re looking for isn’t there at all.
"As a user, you tend to drill down all the nav before you’re able to find why you were there in the first place. Same can be said for contact information, which can be frustrating. That’s why at Stratus, we always start a website project with a fleshed out site architecture and site map. That way, we’re organized right from the start and have a clearly defined focus straight to the finish line.”
Mistake #2: An Excess of Homepage Clutter
“In most cases, the homepage is the first thing visitors see. You’ll want to create a great first impression to go along with it. That means supplying content that a user will continue to browse.
"Less really is more in web design today. But relevant content is key. There needs to be a happy medium between the two. Once exception to an overly lengthy homepage is the one page website, a current trend. One pagers supply all of the information or content on a single page, making visitors scrolls down toward the bottom physically, or by use of an anchor.”
“I think one page websites are great for businesses that don’t have or need a lot of content. Think of it like this: why make your visitor click through tedious navigation systems when they can see everything they need to see on one page.
"The problem I see when browsing sites is people tend to want to cram their entire backlog of information into a single homepage. But then, you end up with subpages that have the exact same information over and over. That not only hurts users, it might lead to a lower Google ranking.
"When it comes down to it, it’s really about organization. Going back to what I said before, planning from the beginning really alleviates the process of redundancy in the copy. It’s less about throwing content on a page if you stick to your original blueprints."
Mistake #3: Lack of Calls-to-Action
“Too many businesses won’t or don’t utilize CTAs and I’ll never understand why. It’s a sad truth. A call-to-action is a request from your site to persuade visitors to act, usually represented by a button or link. When you’re planning a page, you need to ask yourself what you want your visitor to do once they arrive. Sometimes, reading what you’ve put on the page isn’t enough. Are you asking them to buy something? Register? Download? View? Share? Follow?
"You need to have a CTA with a purpose, or else, they’re just coming to an empty page that they can’t continue to engage with. A site that looks good is nice, but is it helping you accomplish your original goal? If not, rethink your CTAs and always remember: make them actionable. Keeping them simple and straightforward is important, but you want to give them a reason to click, so use verbs and diction that illicit your desired response.”
Mistake #4: Going Live without Testing
“Man, this is something we see the result of all too often. Everything from typos, to broken links, responsive problems, un-functional break points, browsers… the list goes on."
"The most annoying process for testing is browser testing. I know other designers would agree with me. IE6 was the biggest headache in the world, back when it was a thing. You’d design an entire website in Firefox or Chrome, and you’d open IE6 an everything would be off. The margins and image sizes were wrong, the fonts would be off… but the biggest thing? Padding. The problem is, as tedious as it sounds, if you don’t do all this testing, you come out with a site that doesn’t operate. That’s not something you want to explain to your client.
"My solution to that? Instead of building a website in a single browser, build sections and test throughout. For example, you’d build your header in your preferred browser, and then test each. Basically, do it as you go instead of doing the whole thing at once and then testing the entire thing on different browsers. It’s not something you want to do so close to being finished and it can ruin your launch tie, slow down production, and harm your relationship with the client.
Words to live by: “My biggest thing is, people always remember the bad things before they remember the good things, so make sure they don’t have a reason to think negative at all."
Matt Burke is a Content Marketing Specialist at Stratus Interactive, focused on providing clients with award-winning messaging that helps build brands and meet growth goals. See all Matt Burke's posts.