Most Common Mistakes Web Developers Make
Do you want to create an awful website that users will bounce right off of? Of course not! That would be silly because that would mean a poor user experience and even poorer reviews to go along with it. You would lose customers and prospects and carry a meager reputation that would be hard to shake. Who would want that?
Unfortunately, some web developers unknowingly create terrible websites and then can’t figure out why users aren’t converting. A great website is the cornerstone of a strong online presence, so just imagine what a bad one can do. That’s why it’s important to take an objective look at your website from time to time to make sure that it isn’t crawling behind your competitors. Your website is meant to be a living, breathing thing that is continuously evolving with the latest trends.
Let’s explore these 10 mistakes that web developers commonly make so that you can avoid them like the plague.
1. SEO that is seriously lacking.
Some web developers think that they know enough about SEO to handle it on their own. SEO is just the use of a few keywords, right? Wrong! SEO is highly complex and involves spending a significant amount of time researching the best practices and understanding the changing rules about how Google, Bing and other search engines index the web.
To be a true SEO specialist, you must constantly experiment and have accurate tracking and analysis. If you don’t, then you need to put this title aside and hire in a true professional. SEO should be built into your website from the beginning, as it includes things like:
Eliminating duplicate content
Crawlable site architecture
Efficient load times
Intelligent back linking
Appropriate tags, image alt tags, site map, etc.
2. A website that plays favorites on devices.
Responsive web design has been a hot topic over the past few years, and for good reason. With more people accessing the Web through mobile devices and tablets, it’s crucial that websites are able to respond to these various screens and offer a consistent user experience. But matching the user experience across devices has its issues in terms of web development.
The mobile audience is different than the desktop audience, so it’s imperative that your website is able to offer the experience that each audience is looking for. Whether it’s accessing content, navigating through a website, filling out a form or making a purchase, your website must be responsive. Since there are numerous patterns and practices for building responsive web designs, working with a professional is in your best interest.
3. A website that is unstable across web browsers.
Most websites aren’t built with time on their side. Generally speaking, they are created under time crunches, so it’s critical that they’re launched as quickly as possible. That’s why most developers work in one web browser, and then test in other browsers when the site is almost complete. This is a fine approach if you have all the time in the world. But it’s more reasonable to think that you probably don’t.
When push comes to shove, it’s most important to deliver on functionality rather than design. But, this doesn’t mean that you have to test in all browsers during the development phase. This will take too much time, and it’s not really effective. Save yourself some headache and instead use a different browser every few days. This allows you to recognize potential issues early on but keeps you on a timeline that makes your boss happy.
4. Bad form etiquette.
If you want to collect information from your users, it’s important that the information is received as it’s intended. Many things can go wrong when users enter their information into a form field such as failed pages or incompatible data. Not only is this frustrating on your end, but also it’s a missed opportunity for a qualified lead.
No matter how you choose to validate data on the user side, make sure that it’s validated on the server side as well. Also be clear in what information you intend to collect from your prospect. If you simply state “address,” you could end up with an email address instead, and this won’t be compatible.
5. Design that looks like a bad picture book.
With so much emphasis placed on visual design, it’s easy to assume that your website will look great with a ton of high-quality images and pictures. But too many of these graphic elements could lead to a bloated user experience that is complex and extensive. If images aren’t loading properly, users may reload the page or exit out completely.
As you go through the design, ask yourself if all the images are really necessary and benefit the user experience. For those that are beneficial, consider preloading them so that the images load faster when a user opens the page. Also consider downsizing the images with tools like Shrink O Matic.
6. Poor readability and legibility.
Naturally, you want to offer a great interface design that pulls people in, but be careful to balance this with tasteful simplicity. Users are visiting your website for a specific reason, and they want this information delivered to them on a silver platter – and fast. Having them navigate through hard-to-read fonts, bizarre color schemes and dancing memes feels like a scene from Alice and Wonderland.
As you build out your website, compare color schemes of major sites and notice which colors improve readability. Use Adobe Kuler to try out different color schemes, and stick to a Sans serif typeface that keeps your font clean and easy to read on all web browsers.
7. Choppy, unorganized content.
You need to get your content under control, STAT. People are driven to a website by its content, so you need to structure it in an organized fashion or otherwise it will be a blunder. Keep in mind how people are reading content: they’re simply sifting through, scanning content and picking out points of interest. Serving up long pieces of content without appropriate headings, subheadings, bullets, keywords, paragraphs, etc. will make your content look like a high school paper.
A content audit is appropriate here, as you want to ensure that all content going on the website aligns with your brand, is valuable and resourceful and well organized with appropriate headings and subheadings. It should also contain proper branding: a logo, contact information, etc. If a user were to access the content on the Web, they should know that it’s coming from your brand and where to contact you.
8. Navigation from a broken compass.
Navigation on your website should be seamless. This isn’t the sea, so why should users be faced with so many waves? Users should be able to find their way around your website easily, and the experience should be intuitive. Here are a few basic tips for creating flawless navigation:
Hyperlinks that stand out
Fast loading times
Clean, simple design
9. Not ready to scale.
Once your website is up and running, it must be ready to scale. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with many websites because they were created in a hurry, under immense time crunches. Scaling is one of those things that many take for granted, but it isn’t foolproof.
Even if you choose a scalable database and web server and separate all application layers on independent servers, this isn’t 100% reliable. There are other details you need to think about. As your application grows, you’ll need to use two or more web servers and have some type of file synchronization service to ensure that your files are equally distributed across your web servers. This may take additional time on the front end of things, but it will be worth it in the long run as your website grows.
10. Being too pretentious.
Though you don’t want to make obvious mistakes, it’s best to work in a fluid manner rather than double checking every little thing you do. Web developers spend a lot of time creating content, and it’s easy to spend too much time doing repetitive tasks. If you’re too critical, you’ll end up finding mistakes in everything you do, and this will only waste time and diminish your sanity, which you need, trust us.
Part of working fluidly comes from your mindset. It’s not easy to create a beautiful, functional website when you feel pressured. Explore your options in terms of tools and process techniques that can be applied for the various stages of development. You’d be amazed by what’s available to save time without sacrificing function or quality. Automation processes are also helpful in speeding up certain tasks and reducing user error.
You may not be out saving the world with your job title, but you are certainly changing the way people use the Internet. If you want to avoid creating a gosh-awful, dreadful website, then it’s crucial that you keep the above tips in mind. There is no secret sauce to creating the ultra-perfect website, but there are tried-and-true tricks that will carry you far. Pair this with your own creativity and edginess, and you’re bound to be successful.