Things Every Web Designer Should Know By Now

In our day to day work at Ascendancy we look at hundreds of websites every day from almost every industry you could think of. We look at our own websites of course, but we also do search engine and pay per click advertising work on websites that we didn’t build ourselves, we look at our competitors’ sites and our clients’ competitors’ sites, suppliers’ sites, sites that help us do our job better, blogs, news sites and many more.

Helen getting cross at web design no-nos

Helen gives the team a ticking off for forgetting the contrasting-colour call to action

Many of these websites are brilliant and we learn a lot from them – ‘wow, look at this for an idea’, ‘we must try this out some time’, and ‘I love what they’ve done here’ are things we say quite often. But even more often we are heard to say things like ‘what on earth have they done?’, ‘how am I meant to read that’ and ‘how was I supposed to spot that button’! We all make mistakes and, in fact, we’re very far from happy with our own website – we put it up in a hurry 3 years ago as a temporary measure and it’s still there because we’re always too busy working on everyone else’s sites! But there are certain things we see time and again on websites that really, in 2012 with all that we know about industry best practice, we really shouldn’t be seeing any more. Here are some of our particular favourites:

  • Title tags that can’t be edited – title tags are so key to search engine optimisation that every site should have title tags that can be easily edited via a content management system, without having to go back to the original web designer every five minutes to update them!
  • Call to action that blends into the background – most people actually want to generate sales or enquiries from their website, believe it or not! So why are we still seeing so many websites where the call to action – the contact details, the ‘Submit’ button on the enquiry form and so on – blends into the background? Your web designer should be advising you to make your calls to action stand out, not tone in with the colour scheme.
  • Google Analytics set up as a profile within the web designer’s account – there are still lots of web designers out there who set up their clients’ Google Analytics within their own account. This means the client can never be the Administrator of their own Analytics account and can never take full control of its settings. Google Analytics accounts should belong to the site owner, not to the web designer!
  • Reams of white text on a black background – do you find it easy to read a whole screen of white text on a black background? I certainly don’t! Whenever we’ve done any user testing or user feedback on any of our websites, users almost universally prefer websites to look light and bright, not like the inside of Dracula’s coffin! We have of course been known to build the occasional ‘dark’ website because that is the choice of the website owner, but our advice would be to always keep it light, bright and easy to read on the screen.
  • No thought given to tracking of results – so many websites get built with no means of tracking sales or enquiries built in, with analytics as an afterthought. Your aims for the website and how you’re going to track them should be the first thing you think of, not the last!

Of course, if you want a light, bright easy to read website with editable title tags, well thought out reporting setup and a strong call to action, you could always give us a call on 01952 462845 or email [email protected]!  

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