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We’ve all stumbled upon some pretty bad websites, and some just plain awful ones. If you’re like me, you find analyzing these websites to be a fun learning experience. A good way to improve your skills is to learn what not to do. Here are ten common website mistakes, that you surely don’t want to make. 

  1. Not Using Responsive Design
    • This is a huge mistake to avoid. Responsive design — designing your website to function well and look good on devices of all shapes and sizes — is crucial, especially considering that in 2018 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was on mobile phones. Don’t exclude over half of your potential customers by neglecting to make your site mobile-friendly. Additionally, as of July 1, 2019, Google has begun mobile-first indexing. Since the majority of users access Google on smartphones, they’ve started indexing pages with the smartphone agent. 
  2. Using a Free Website Builder
    • There are many companies that offer “drag and drop” website building, they might even claim to allow users to launch their sites in a matter of minutes. There are numerous problems with these kinds of services: many unnecessary lines of code are added to the back-end causing slower load times, which can lead to site performance issues and errors, and a frustrating user experience. Plus, these sites really just want to advertise their own brand and can include their logo on your site, their name in your URL, and more; which can all be off-putting to users.
  3. Not Keeping Your Site Updated
    • There’s nothing more uninviting than visiting a website with a design scheme circa 2001, or “news” that’s a year old, or promises to be updated regularly. This makes your audience question how up to date any of the information on your site is, which can increase the number of users who leave your site without purchasing a product.  
  4. Having Too Many Options in Your Top-Level Navigation Bar
    • When a navigation bar holds too many options, users can feel overwhelmed, and your site seems more challenging to navigate. A good rule of thumb for how many options should be in the navigation bar is 5-9. This is the perfect amount because the average person’s short-term memory can only hold this many items, any more and people will start to forget.  
  5. Not Paying Attention to Readability 
    • The information on our sites that we work so hard to craft and edit has to be readable to our users, otherwise, what’s the point? The truth is that most people don’t read, they skim. Are you skimming this article right now? Do you want users to do that on your site? The average reader only reads 25% of an article, but content with visuals gets 94% more views. We have to work to include more visuals and make content more easily skim-able in order to attract and maintain user’s attention. Huge blocks of text are uninviting, they feel like a daunting amount to read. Breaking up text by using bullets, smaller paragraphs, and visuals is a good way to make text seem like a quicker read. readability examples
  6. Having Irrelevant URLs and Slugs 
    • If your domain name (ex: ours is digitalminerva.com) is unrelated, or not related enough, this can make it difficult for users to find your site, or to remember it. For example, it would be confusing if our domain name was minerva.com or minervaweb.com because it only has part of our name. Sometimes our dream domain name is already taken, but it’s important to keep your domain name as relevant as possible. If digitalminerva.com was already taken, we might consider using digitalminervaweb.com, or digital-minerva.com. 
    • Another important part of relevant URLS is your slug. A slug is the part of a URL that identifies a particular page, denoted with a slash at the end of the main URL. For example: digitalminerva.com/blog in this case /blog is the slug, and this will obviously direct you to our blog page. If the slug was instead /work or /blog-4 not only does that look awkward, it’s also a bit confusing, both for the user and the search engine. It’s easier for Google to return your page in relevant search results if your slug is an accurate depiction of that page’s content. 
  7. Forgetting About SEO
    • Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of taking the appropriate steps to increase your site’s ranking in search engine results. This is a crucial step in marketing your site because just think, when was the last time that you searched for something on Google, and then went to a webpage that appeared in the results? Probably today. There are many elements that complete SEO, everything from appropriate slugs, to metadata, to alt tags, and more. If you’re still confused about SEO, we know a thing or two and can help you, ask us about it. 
  8. Not Changing the Color of Links 
    • It needs to be obvious what text is a link and what is not, otherwise this can leave users confused and frustrated. Of course, making all links blue and underlined is falling out of style, but there are other ways to get this job done. Adding style to the linked text when your cursor hovers over it is a good (and modern) way to indicate that it’s a link. Some sites might have the link text change color on hover, become underlined, or even add a background color. Changing the appearance of links is also crucial to accessibility. For optimal accessibility, links should be underlined, either in general or on hover. It’s also important to keep the contrast of links and text in mind for accessibility. To learn more about link accessibility and contrast, check this out.  link text examples
  9. Too Many Pop-Ups
    • Pop-ups can be pesky, especially if users are inundated with them. Users find that pop-ups interrupt their browsing, and approximately 73% of surveyed users dislike them.    
  10. Making Important Information Difficult to Find
    • If you are a restaurant, for example, most people will come to your site for three main things: your menu, your hours, and your location. Make all of this information readily available, because people expect to get everything quickly, and if they can’t find what they were searching for, they’ll leave your website and move onto another one, which is never the goal. For restaurant sites, it’s important to note that 75% of people searching for a restaurant, choose one based on Google search results. So, it’s imperative to make SEO a priority and to include Schema markup to appear well in search results. 

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