It's hard to talk about good advice for web design without looking at all of the different ways that designers can also hurt their own sites. There's a lot of varied ways to fall down on the job, and many of them can be done without realizing the mistake until it's too late. Here are a few of the more common mistakes that you will see in web design, and how, and why, you need to look out for them.
- No clear path. Whether it's a lack of a strong call to action on a sales page, or just a confusing flow of image choices, there's a lot of different ways to make your users get lost in the hedge maze of a badly designed site. This is something that you can often correct by having test users navigate the site, and you can even connect software to those users, and your site, that will let you track how long it takes for them to go from point A to point B. These tools, including heat maps and various analytic utilities, are incredibly valuable in showing how clear your navigation is, and whether or not users are actually going to where you need them to. Also, a lack of organized links and navigation can hurt your search engine rankings.
- Not friendly for mobile. There's honestly no excuse for this one in 2015; some sites can see as much as 75% of their traffic come from mobile device users, and virtually every site has mobile traffic to account for. While it may not always be in the majority, it's beyond tone deaf to ignore your mobile user base, and your mobile users definitely notice when the site hasn't had some form of optimization to make their browsing experience easier. Google will track how often a user bounces back to its search engine results page after clicking a link, and if a mobile user sees that your site isn't optimized for them, they will find one that is. That's good for your competitors, and very bad for you.
- Too many gimmicks. Browse any of the upcoming web trends for 2015 and you will find a list of some very creative applications of ideas in typography and flat design, as well as interactive user interfaces, parallax design, and much more, but do all of these concepts have a place on your website? That's a question that only you and your users can answer, but chances are that only a handful of new ideas are a good idea, if even that. Sometimes, it's best to stick to the basics and take the lessons of these design trends into account when you want to decide how to set your site apart. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you need to load every single new HTML5 trick onto your site, however. That increases your loading times, and more often than not, clutters up your presentation.