Want to set yourself apart from the crowd as far as web design and development skills are concerned? Then check yourself! Make sure you aren’t committing even one of these cardinal sins that smacks of an inexperienced, amateur web designer/developer!
- Use “Click Here” as a cue for a link. This is wrong on many levels. First of all, your web site should have a clear CTA *Call to Action) button prominently (above the fold) to encourage users to take a specific action (e.g., buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, etc.). “Click here” is NOT how that is done.
- Fail to design for ALL lists (e.g., Definition List, Ordered List, and Unordered List). Most web sites will need to display content in some kind of list format at some point or other. Having CSS styles for the basic lists is best practice. You should design for an Ordered List, an Unordered List, and my favorite, the often-ignored Definition List.
- Not responsive, or mobile- or tablet-friendly. Responsive design is a web design and development technique that creates a site or system that reacts to the size of a user’s screen. Responsive design will optimize a user’s browsing experience by creating a flexible and responsive web page, optimized for the device that is accessing it. With more and more people relying on tablets and smart phones to surf the Internet, it is crucial that your site be mobile-friendly. Not only so that you don’t annoy and frustrate your users, but, especially if your web site sells a product or service — you will convert more visitors to customers if you make the mobile experience a pleasant and efficient one.
- No clearly delineated CTA (Call to Action) button. Your call to action (CTA) is the chance to motivate your audience to take real steps toward becoming a customer or client. It can be the determining factor between a lead and a conversion.
- Hodgepodge of typefaces and fonts. The general rule of thumb is three or four fonts at most. More can be used, but it must be done skillfully or you’ll run off your intended audience. Some fonts and typefaces are better for headlines and others for body text.
- Improper use or overuse of stock imagery. Stock imagery does have its place in web design. But if you want to really influence a potential buyer or convert site visitors into customers, you’ll take care when planning the use of images on your web site. People prefer actual photos of real people; your actual office, for example. Or someone in y our shop actually producing a product you are selling.
- Slow-loading pages. This is not 1996. We all have fairly fast internet connections nowadays, and 33.6 modems are a thing of the distant past. People expect a page to load fairly quickly. If a site visitor has to wait more than 20 seconds for a page to load, they won’t hang around. This affects your Google ranking and bonce rates. The fewer pages the visitor views, the worse the bounce rate. And the slower the site, the quicker they leave, hence a higher/worse bounce.
- Ignorance of copyright basics. Potentially all internet images qualify for copyright protection. The instant the image is created in a digital form, it qualifies for “common law” copyrights. Under common law, original works of authorship fixed in a tangible form automatically secure copyright protection. Tangible forms for internet images include digital files, emails and web sites. The public may still have be able to use the copyrighted images if fair use applies. The fair use doctrine allows others to use the copyrighted work, under restricted conditions and not for profit.
- No SSL (HTTPS). In July 2018, Google started punishing sites that were not secure. That were HTTP sites rather than HTTPS sites. HTTPS (HTTP Secure) is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) for secure communication over a computer network, and is widely used on the Internet. In HTTPS, the communication protocol is encrypted by Transport Layer Security (TLS), or formerly, its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The protocol is therefore also often referred to as HTTP over TLS, or HTTP over SSL. But as recently as August 2019, they’ve begun penalizing non-HTTPS sites even further. So you really need to consider making sure your clients’ web sites are running HTTPS. And this might mean convincing them to switch to a web host which offers that service (most do, nowadays).
- Music on page load. It is the height of hubris to insist that your web site or page play music on page load. First of all, your music tastes might not jibe with mine. And I might be surfing from a place where load noise of any kind is frowned upon or prohibited. A library or courtroom for example. So just don’t do it. It will serve to annoy your site visitors and it could cost you a sale or a customer.
Joni Mueller has been designing web sites for hire since 2003, when she first blew up her web host’s server by insisting on running Greymatter. Since then, Joni has designed for Blogger and Movable Type, TextPattern, WordPress and CMS Made Simple. She lives with her cat and shoe collection in a bucolic old section of Houston called Idylwood. For some strange reason, Joni likes to refer to herself in the third person. When she’s not working on web design, she’s ordering lawyers around. And blogging about it. Or both.