The plethora of tools available today means that it is easier than ever to create a website. This has led to a rise in the number of web design "firms", as well as a rise in the number of people going the DIY website route. However, this has also led to a rise in the number of websites with obvious bloopers that are not just hurting rankings, but also causing low conversions and high bounce rates. This piece highlights these mistakes so you can avoid them, whether you are creating your website on your own or hiring web designers.
Google announced mobile users surpassing desktop users in 2015, and stated their shift to prioritising mobile friendly sites in rankings. However, it is still common to find websites that are desktop only. This hampers accessibility for site visitors and scuppers SEO efforts.
When a website is not checked for rendering across different browsers, some website visitors will end up looking at a "broken" website when they visit. This is why it is important for designers to test sites for cross-browser compatibility before launch. Google Webmaster Tools has a section devoted to mobile compatibility, and there are lots of tools online that assess how mobile friendly your website is. There is no excuse for saying you didn't know your site performed poorly on mobile platforms.
Interstitials are pages displayed before or after an expected content page. Many site owners use this as part of their advert strategy, while others use it as part of their lead generation strategy. However, interstitials are frowned at (literally) by web users, and Google recently announced penalties for intrusive interstitials. Full-screen, half-screen or pop up interstitials is a big web design mistake that not only negatively affects user experience, but also leads to high bounce rates and poor search engine rankings.
This has been proven time and again. Users will quickly leave if they are greeted by the jarring experience of auto-play video or audio on a website. Auto-play media can be used to get the attention of the visitor, but will it yield the right results or just cause higher bounce rates? It is usually the latter.
When a website is laden with graphics and text without white space, it evokes a choking feeling in the mind of the user. It becomes very difficult to read or retain any information, which is the main aim when you create a website. Quality web design strikes the right balance between too little and too much white space.
Photography is valuable in web design, but when you use fake or stock photographs around your website, passing them off as genuine, it triggers the feeling of mistrust amongst visitors. Even when you do not intend to claim the images as original, your website goes down in the estimation of your target audience. Hire a photographer and take a few original photographs for your website to add more air of authenticity to your business. Alternatively, pay for images on good stock photo sites, like Shutterstock or Adobe.
All text on your website should be easily crawled by search engine bots to improve your search engine rankings. This is why converting text to images is a bad idea for SEO purposes. Additionally, using images as texts will lead to a slower website for no real gain.
Large videos and images can significantly reduce your website page load speed. When you consider the fact that 39% of people will quit your website in a matter of seconds if it takes too long to load, you can understand why images should be used reasonably, and be fully optimised. There are free tools online that can help reduce pixel count without loss of quality, while reducing page load times for website visitors.
36% of visitors will go back to the home page by clicking the company logo. When this doesn't work, they could look at the site as broken and leave immediately. Put your logo in the appropriate tag to ensure it is clickable.
When visitors cannot quickly find what they are looking for with your site's navigation, they will quickly leave. The best tip for navigation is to keep things simple as you create a website. Most web users are already conversant with a simple horizontal menu of around 6 to 7 items with just one level of dropdown menus. It is also important to add a search box at the top of each page to make it easy to people to quickly find what they are looking for. Changing the navigation throughout the site in different sub sections can also cause confusion and increase bounce rates.
Websites should have a unified and consistent look. However, some website designers get so engrossed in the chopping and changing of fonts and colours and they end up using a jarring mixture. As a rule of the thumb, you should not go beyond two to three fonts and colours per page. When you have chosen your mix of colours and fonts, confirm rendering on desktops and mobiles.
It is common place to find registration forms with a long list of fields. This is frustrating for users, as few will have the time or patience to fill out more than a few required fields. A good tip is to visit similar pages in your niche to see what details are requested in their registration forms. However, you should keep mandatory information to the barest minimum and make sure they are clearly marked. Your goal of your form is to enter dialogue with your visitors. Make it easy for them to start the conversation.
At a point when research suggests the average online user's attention span is just 8 seconds, these are major mistakes that must be avoided when you create a website.
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