The interesting thing with websites is that the vast majority of us take them entirely at face value, meaning that we don’t read into anything more than what’s in front of us and our experience when interacting with that website. Truth is nothing more should be expected from a visitor. It’s for this reason that web designers have to pay particular attention to how they design a website, and how they prompt those visitors to interact with it. There are likely a few specific websites you could name if you were to be asked for a few that you like. But if you were then asked to explain why you liked them, you’d probably struggle to define that exactly.
Here at 4GoodHosting, being a quality Canadian web hosting provider obviously means we’re somewhat more attuned to these sorts of things than the average Joe. That’s not to say we experts by any means, but we do have some degree of wherewithal about what makes for good web design. This isn’t the first time we’ve touched on this subject with our blog, but it’s always good to come back to it for the sake of any of you who are starting to dabble in web design.
It’s a vast frontier to be sure. Today we’ll look at the consensus 7 most common shortcomings found with web design, and hopefully armed with the information you’ll make sure you get yours right the first time around.
In today’s day and age it is simply inconceivable to imagine a web developer neglecting to make a responsive site. For going on 4 years now internet traffic flowing through mobile devices has been higher than the traffic coming from desktops and laptops. Current rates are roughly 53% smartphones and tablets versus 47% for desktops, laptops, smart TVs and the like.
Not developing responsive websites can result in alienating more than half of your prospective visitors. The significance of that needs no explanation.
- Excess Jargon
If all website developers had a good sense of what constitutes readability, we wouldn’t have this on the list.This is something that frequently shows up when completed projects result in products that visitors struggle to comprehend when reading about them on a website.
The term for this is jargon. There’s a lot of it online, but that doesn’t make it a positive by any means. No matter how jargon creeps onto your website, you need to do everything you can to get rid of it. The best way to handle jargon is to avoid it wherever possible, unless the business developer has good reasons to include it.
- Noticeable Lack of Content
A lack of content means a message that’s lacking the same way, and it’s for this reason that some 46% of visitors who land on B2B websites end up splitting right quick without further exploration or interaction. There’s no getting around the fact that quality content that is relevant to the intention of a website is crucial in terms of establishing credibility.
Content must be intrinsically valuable for the visitor as well, and not just a collection of text that serves SEO purposes. If you struggle to generate good quality content, pay someone who’s capable with it to do it for you. It’s well worth it and then some. And a CMS – content management system – comes highly recommended as well.
- Hiding Essential Information
It used to be that the issue of misguided website development was thought to have been remedied through the judicious application of recommended practices. That was until mobile apps came around. Look no further than the situation with Google in 2016, where they fell victim to this with their release of Material Design. It introduced bottom navigation bars intended to offer a more clarifying alternative to hamburger menus. Long story short, it failed decidedly.
Unless there is a specific and enhanced purpose for prompting visitors to click or tap on a button, link or page element without explaining next steps, this ‘mystery’ type of navigation should be avoided, particularly when it comes to essential information.
- Excessively Slow Page Loads
For a website to be one that is considered to load sufficiently fast, a web design rule of thumb is to simplify and this responsibility lies squarely with the developer. Understand that the more ‘stuff’ you have on a page (images, forms, videos, widgets, etc.), the longer the server takes to send over the site files. Plus it then takes longer for the browser to render them. Here are a few design best practices to follow :
- Make the site light – get rid of non-essential elements, especially if they are bandwidth-gobblers.
- Compress your pages – Gzip is an easy means of doing so.
- Split long pages into a few shorter ones
- Write clean code that doesn’t rely on external sources
- Optimize images
After doing so and still experiencing slow loads, turn your focus over to your web host. It’s a fact that cheap, entry-level shared packages are notoriously slow and unpredictable, especially as your traffic increases. A recent published test checked load times across the leading providers and found variances from a barely acceptable 2,850 ms all the way down to speedy 226 ms.
- Outdated Information
Not much will really need to be said here. Ensure all information presented on your site is up to date and accurate. Periodic audits of the site to keep up with this is also recommended.
- Clear Call to Action is Missing
Every website should push visitors to do something. Even if the purpose is to provide information, the call-to-action – CTA as it’s abbreviated – should encourage visitors to remember it and return for updates. The CTA should be just as clear as the navigation elements, and most often when it’s not then the purpose of bringing that visitor onto the website is lost
Enticements are acceptable, but the CTA message should be spelled out clearly – and even if you think that it’s too ‘pushy’ in doing so.