Web design is one of those funny things that everyone has an opinion on but few people have the expertise for. Unfortunately many people think good website design is all about the form and not the function. After all who doesn’t love flashy graphics and nice looking images?
Web design is a largely misunderstood field of practice so we sought out the opinions of 3 highly qualified User Experience (UX) designers who have helped design some of the most impressive web business around.
We go them to list down the top 5 web design mistakes that people make on their websites and here’s what they said!
1. Not understanding what visitors actually want to do.
It’s fun to jump into Photoshop and start smashing out a design but it’s important to step back and understand why and who you’re designing that website for. Continually ask yourself: “What’s the one thing I want my visitors to do on this page?” and desig with that in mind.
2. Hard to understand explanations
It’s easy to forget that you are designing for people who don’t know your product inside and out. As such, it’s important to use simple wording that explains what you do in language your visitors understand. For example, instead of using “Hyper-local communication boards”, try “Chat with your neighbourhood”.
3. Too many steps
One of the quickest ways to improve user experience is to reduce the amount of steps needed to do anything. For example, if your website is about photos, allow people to upload a photo as soon as possible. Ideally, make it the first button they click.
4. If everything stands out, nothing stands out
Making every button, title and image pop out (huge/vibrant colours) is a common thing with new designers. The problem is, if everything on the page stands out, nothing stands out. A good aim is to make one thing the focus (for example: a call to action button) and balance the rest to compliment that piece.
5. Not seeking feedback
New designers may be under the impression that when it’s out of Photoshop, it’s complete. The truth is that design is an iterative process and direct feedback from first time viewers (or other designers) is important for refinement. There may be further wording or colour changes that can have a powerful impact in moving the design forward, especially after it’s live.
James is a Melbourne (Australia) based User Experience Designer with over 15 years experience. His former roles include Head of UX for 99designs.com. Check out his blog and say hi!
1. Not covering the basics
The primary website mistake we often see is companies who don’t cover the basics. A frequent example is a restaurant website that oversells the style and ambience when all we want is their opening time and phone number!
2. Trying to be all things to everyone
Define your audience and your brand. Use these clear definitions to guide you in your decision making from that point. Once you know who you are catering to, you can focus on exactly that: catering to them.
3. Overcomplicating things
Often creators make things more complex than they need to be because they think it makes it more valuable. For example, you might think that the more complicated a control panel is, the more powerful and valuable it must be. Those days are gone, simple is the new currency and hooray to that!
4. Banging on
Distill the essence of what you’re selling as succinctly as possible. A good example is MailChimp’s tagline: Send Better Email. This gives customers the essence of your offering quickly and sets you up to expand on your story from there. It’s one of the hardest things to do but one of the most important.
5. Not considering the flow
You know it when you see or experience it, it just flows. Think carefully about how you want your customers to flow through screens and lay them out to encourage this flow.
1. No clear planning
Everyone needs a website, but they don’t always know why. Make sure you have a clear direction and goal for your users.
2. Autoplaying video on your site
If you do, at least make sure the audio is muted so that the user has a choice of whether or not they want to hear it.
3. Not doing your research
See what the competition is doing. Chances are if they are successful, they have a decent website that you can take some cues from.
4. Forgetting mobile users
Most people have smart phones these days, so try to keep responsive design in mind if possible. Think of how many customers you would lose if your website is not mobile-friendly!
5. Flash… Really?
While it may seem fun to animate your website, nobody really wants that but you.
We’ll leave you with a parting thought from James Mansfield:
“The most important thing to remember is to really get to know your customer. I’m not talking about email surveys etc. Pick up the phone, Skype them or buy them a coffee. Watch them use your website and ask them questions along the way. This not only builds great relationships but it will help you create a useful design that appeals to your customers and enhances their overall experience with your product.
Too many designers focus on nice typography, colours and icons which are all important but they forget that these are just the important trimmings in an overall journey.”
Which web design mistakes have you done before? Don’t be shy, we’ve all made them. Admitting your mistakes is the first step to making improvements