10 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Website
No business can manage without online presence in the era of information technology. Online presence means reaching out to your target audience 24 hours a day wherever they are. It means establishing credibility, strengthening your brand, and boosting business growth. However, with nearly 2 billion websites on the World Wide Web today, unique and compelling just don’t exist anymore.
For your business to truly stand out among the competition, attracting new users and converting them into loyal customers, your website needs to be effective. Below we have discussed some of the key web development mistakes that could get in the way of making your website effective in both form and function.
Focusing on the Home Page
There is a common misconception that the home page is the most important, most viewed page on your website. Based on this idea, a lot of inexperienced web development teams give the home page a lot more attention than any other page on the website.
They see the home page as the main entry point for users and spend countless hours perfecting it to create a great first impression. But is the home page really that important today?
A couple decades ago, to visit a website users had to manually type a URL address into their browser’s address bar, a home page truly was the most important page. But this is no longer the case as online behavior has changed with the evolution of web search engines and social media platforms.
Either via search queries, newsletters, or referral links, today most of the traffic comes through landing pages for the specific products or services on your website. Users may never even see your home page if there is no reason for it.
This means that every page on your website is a potential entry point that needs to create a good first impression. And thus, all the pages deserve equal attention from your web development team.
Providing Too Much or Too Little Information
Since users can start their acquaintance with your website through practically any page, it’s crucial that every page tells the visitors where they are and what they can do here. A page has to communicate its primary goal clearly and provide an answer to the specific search query that brought the user here.
A page should also answer a range of other questions most relevant to the product or service represented on the page (e.g. price and availability if it’s an ecommerce product page). If the answers are not there, a user assumes that your product or service doesn't meet their needs. They leave, and you lose a potential customer.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to try and fit the answers to every possible question on a single page. An overwhelming cascade of visual and textual content will only confuse and irritate your users.
So be specific and concise in your answers and make sure the information you provide is relevant for this particular page. Make it so that a user can merely skim through and still accomplish everything they came here for.
Mismanaging the Balance Between SEO and Usability
There are two key factors that drive the success of your website: traffic and conversion rates. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is in charge of the first one, while usability provides the second. What makes a website successful is finding a fine balance between the two.
Today search engines are the first place people go to when they need to find a solution to their problem. Looking for answers, a user enters a search query and gets a list of results.
The role of SEO in this process is to make sure it is your answer that the search engine algorithm considers the best, top one. But a higher SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rank is just the first step. When a user clicks on that link, usability takes over.
Real conversion rates happen when a web page helps users quickly and effortlessly achieve their goals. So trying to game the scoring system with an abundance of keyword-rich links won’t turn your visitors into customers if the content is mediocre at most.
SEO and usability should reinforce each other. Today’s search algorithms consider a lot more than just keywords. The SERP placement is affected by indirect quality criteria such as user behaviors and referring links from external sites.
This means that usability becomes an integral part of the SEO game, which will ultimately get you more search traffic than cheap tricks such as keyword stuffing.
Missing Your Target Audience
When starting your company, you’ve probably carried out comprehensive market research. You dedicated significant time and effort to identifying your target audience and building customer profiles to figure out how to cater for it, make products and services they would need and truly enjoy.
In website development, it is as important to thoroughly explore the tastes, lifestyles, and preferences of your target audience to design a website that would naturally attract their attention and provide the best user experience.
Focus on what matters most to that certain type of visitor, and don’t try to please everyone at the same time if you want your website to be effective. This includes every design and content decision from your color scheme to tone of voice.
Overcomplicating Your Website Navigation
Users are very likely to abandon a website they find hard to navigate. It should take a user no more than 3 clicks to get to the page they are looking for before they stop trying.
And while certain businesses such as entertainment platforms can afford to get a bit more creative with their layouts, most business websites require clear and efficient user journeys.
Make your menu intuitive and consistent. Place the menu button in a visible spot. Turn your site map into a concise menu structure. Make sure every drop down features minimum text and provides obvious visual hints so that users could find their way around easily.
Not Making Your Website Responsive
The huge variety of devices we can use to access the Internet today makes it absolutely unacceptable for a business to launch a website that does not adjust well to different screen sizes and resolutions.
The best way to ensure a seamless, user-focused experience and high ranking in SERPs is to adopt the responsive design approach on your website development project. Your website will automatically adjust its layout and content to suit any screen, which means you don’t have to build separate websites for desktop and mobile.
Skipping on A/B Testing
Whether you are building a new website or redesigning an existing one, your final design decision should never be based entirely on your team’s feelings and opinions. It's crucial to consider objective criteria, the data gathered from testing at least two different design approaches against each other with real users.
A/B testing will help you determine which design variation is most effective at accomplishing a specific objective and yield the best results for your business.
Saving on Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing
Under the pressure of tight deadlines and limited budgets, it’s common for web development projects to limit the testing to just one browser, which makes them miss potential compatibility issues.
Thus, the business takes the risk of upsetting a considerable part of their target audience that uses different browsers in case the website shows visual bugs and unexpected behavior.
Overusing Third-Party Components
The use of third-party components such as scripts and add-ons is a very popular practice in today’s web development environment. Among the main reasons for using modular code is the time and money it saves.
Your web developers do not need to reinvent the wheel when implementing common functionality on your website, allowing them to put their entire focus on perfecting your USPs (unique selling points).
However, such an efficiency comes with a number of risks you should consider when relying heavily on third-party components. For starters, this creates certain dependencies on the libraries you get your code from.
You have to constantly check your components for compatibility issues when you update your website. Reusable code from different libraries may also conflict with each other, causing errors and serious security vulnerabilities.
Another drawback of the excessive use of third-party components is the increase in the size and memory usage of your website, which creates performance bottlenecks and limits your scalability. Remember, reusable code is not inherently bad. Just make sure you have the capacity to maintain it.
Not Building from Scratch
It’s always a tough decision to make whether you should try to save the website you already have with a “spruce up” or scrap it and build yourself a new one. And it’s logical to first consider saving what you have with an upgrade.
But even if the design of your website does not look that dated yet, the answer to this question lies in the technologies behind the design.
In addition to the many opportunities you miss out on, your technologically outdated website will probably no longer deliver on your SERP ranking goals either. This is due to a whole myriad of SEO issues such as poor performance, user experience, security, and accessibility indicators in comparison to websites fresh out of the oven.