Everyone makes mistakes, but sometimes those mistakes can cost you time and money, more than you could have ever possibly saved by cutting corners. Here’s a list of five mistakes that you need to avoid at all costs when designing or managing a site. They won’t guarantee that your next site will be a smashing success, but they are very likely to keep it from being a complete wreck and a waste of resources.
- Broken links. If there was ever a point where it was acceptable to have broken links, especially links going to places on your own site, that time is long gone. Users don’t like it. Search engines penalize you for it. Even other websites will link to you less often when your own links aren’t up to date, because that spill over damage hurts their reputation online as well. If you’re wondering what a reputation’s worth, consider how much money is spent every year on SEO and other forms of online marketing, and then understand that this one, very easily solvable problem is what those companies are hired to review and fix.
- Unclear or forced navigation. Some companies can “get away” with this, but those websites tend to be in the adult entertainment genre. If your site doesn’t have clear navigation to where links are directing, or if you try to do the very unpopular “pop under” method to hide an advertisement or landing page under a currently active browser window, then you are making a big mistake. Likewise, messing around with a browser’s ability to go back is going to hurt your engagement numbers.
- Stock images everywhere. It’s easy and understandable even, to use a few stock images in some parts of your site. If your entire website is loaded with stock photography of people who look professional, offices which are obviously way nicer than your company’s budget would ever allow, and receptionists who don’t work for you in any capacity, you are falling in line with the type of website that users tend to avoid when they want to do business. Avoid this one like the plague.
- Using outdated design tools. Flash is one of the biggest ones, but if you’ve got frames, or animated gifs, or anything that was popular a decade ago, it dates your site, and it definitely hurts the image that you’re going for. There’s also a popular form of site marketing called the “long form letter” which was used commonly with “free eBook” sites and merchandise of that nature– avoid looking like spam, at all costs.