Mistakes Every Web Designer Makes
As a web designer, your number one priority is probably the aesthetic aspect of the web page, and sometimes we, as perfectionists, get so involved that we often go a bit too far and make some errors that could easily have been avoided. Know that you’re not alone, and we at Creative Beacon are here to help. Here are a few mistakes that almost every web designer is guilty of.
Some layouts, no matter how beautiful, are annoying as hell because they require both horizontal and vertical scrolling. Nobody likes the horizontal scroll, because it means you miss out on a lot of things. Unless you keep user-friendly navigation in mind, your web design is going to be kind of a downer. Some popular sites have a very simple layout because their users prefer that and can make their way around the site with ease.
There are scripts out there that will allow you to control how the user scrolls your site. If you create a horizontal layout, you can use this script so that when the user scrolls down on their mouse it actually scrolls the page horizontally. This is a neat trick, and something you might want to try if you really want to stand out.
2. Too Many Scripts
Everyone wants to break the mold with their website. However, many new designers and developers forgo speed for the sake of adding bells and whistles to their site. The truth is, it is better for your site to load quickly than for you to have some kind of flashy animation play on your site. Another thing that many designers do is forget to load their scripts in the footer. I know many times you can’t get around using scraps, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do things to help your site load faster. Also, test your site before bringing it live, to make sure that your scripts don’t conflict with one another.
Fixed heights and widths limit what the user can view, and work differently for different browsers and devices. Sometimes, if you feel that is absolutely essential, then you probably know better about your own design, but as a general rule of thumb, avoid placing unnecessary restrictions that slow down your page’s performance and add to its size. Responsive web design is the standard. If you’re not familiar with responsive design now, then you should be if you want to stay in business. There are many frameworks out there to help you, such as Foundation 5, Bootstrap, Gumby. There are more, which you can find easily by searching for responsive frameworks on Google.
Different browsers, and different versions of the same browsers, have their own specific dependencies. As new features are introduced, your web page starts to look outdated. Start with a basic design that can work well on any browser, even the old Internet Explorer, and gradually build up so that newer browsers can support newer features. This way, no old browser gets left out, and newer browsers offer a unique new experience every time.
At the end of the day, the reader is there for a specific reason: the content. If you spend countless hours over your design, adding flashy bits of animation, or a gorgeous layout, none of it will matter if the content doesn’t hold its own weight. Sometimes, it’s better to go with a design that is minimalistic and aesthetically pleasing, while complementing and highlighting the main content, so the user immediately sees what they’re looking for. Let your content breathe, with plenty of negative space around your text and images. Be sure to give your body copy plenty of line height space. This will increase readability, making it easier to digest the content.
6. Social media
it is important to integrate social media into your website. It is fairly simple to add social media follow buttons to your site, so that visitors can connect with you on other platforms. You don’t want people to have to go online searching for your Facebook and Twitter pages. They most likely won’t, so you have to make it easy for them and add those to follow buttons somewhere that is easy for them to find.
If you own your own website or blog, which are constantly updating with new information, such as articles or posts, then you’ll deftly want to add social media share buttons above or below the post. Some people, including me, place them in both places. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to share your articles with their friends and colleagues. This is vital for driving traffic to your website and getting your content in front of the right audience.
I know that you may not have the budget for a great deal of advertising endeavors. This is especially true when you’re first starting out. However, most hosting companies give you an advertising credit with Google or somewhere else, which you can use to boost your initial traffic. This is a great way to jumpstart your website and drive targeted traffic to your business.
Facebook ads are another affordable way to advertise your website. You can target specific demographics, including age groups and industries, as well as interests. This is like turning your advertising efforts into a heat-seeking missile. One of the best parts about Facebook advertising, is that you can set a budget, so that you can advertise within your means. You could easily run a campaign for $50 for the entire month. Once that budget has been spent, the campaign ends. This makes it so that you don’t go over budget, but you are able to drive targeted traffic to your website giving your business the boost it needs.
8. Not testing your site
I don’t know how many times I’ve been on a designer or developer’s website, where I want to get in touch with them, and either couldn’t find a way to do so or their contact form to work. The whole point of your website is for people to build the get in touch with you after seeing your work. If your contact form doesn’t work, that definitely sheds a negative light on your business. You may be an excellent web designer and developer, but if you miss out on details as important as these, people may be afraid to hire you.
9. Not networking
Many web designers and developers are delusional when they first start out. They feel like they’re the lone gunmen, and that they can fly completely solo. While this is ideal, it’s highly unlikely the chill succeed if you run your business in this manner. You have to connect with other people, in order to grow your business. Joining online communities centered around web development can help you expand your network. Join online communities for web designers and developers on Google+, LinkedIn, and design related websites. Don’t be afraid to join the Google hangout and talk about web design and development issues. It’s a great way to meet other designers and developers, and you never know when one of those connections could turn into a possible business lead. Even something simple as a LinkedIn group can turn into a profitable business connection.
You also have to get out the house every once in a while. Go to business seminars, conventions, and even trade shows. This will give you insight into local businesses that you may not even know exist. You’d be surprised how many businesses out there don’t actually have websites. They have the misconception that they are unaffordable, which gives you the opportunity to make a connection and convince them otherwise. Imagine if you could land just three websites per month at a $2500 price tag. That’s a total of $7500 revenue per month. Depending on your expenses this can be a great amount of income. You’d be surprised at how much making small efforts can pay off in the long run.
10. Not keeping up with accounting
This one’s a biggie, and may actually be one of the most important. This is a mistake I made when I first started out as a freelance web and graphic designer. I made the right choice by opening a dedicated business account, but I still made some mistakes because I just didn’t know how I should handle business transactions. It is important to keep track of every transaction from day one. Use accounting software such as Freshbooks, Quicken or QuickBooks to keep track of your transactions. Keep in mind that you have to keep another of your revenue back to cover taxes each quarter. If you don’t keep up with this, you can end up owing a large amount at the end of the year. While this may not sound like a big deal, you can also be penalized for not sending your quarterly payments. Plus, if you spent all your money, and you’ve racked up a huge tax bill, you’re going to be in the hole for the next year. This is no way to run a business. It is much better to pay your taxes as you go and keep up with accounting along the way. Also if you’re busy with projects, it can be a huge burden to try to catch up on your taxes all at one time.
Another thing you want to keep in mind is that you’ll be creating more work for yourself if you make a personal purchases out of your business account. You have to keep track of where every one of those transactions are going. It is much better for you to make one large transfer and your personal account each month, then it is to keep track of every transaction and determine whether it was personal or business. If you stick the only making business purchases using your business account, your accounting tasks will be much less. You only have to keep up with that one transfer, instead of 50, 100 or more personal transactions that you’ve made.
You’ve probably got the layout down, no worries. As a designer, it’s second nature. So stop worrying about that and concentrate on fixing these mistakes instead. By addressing these issues ahead of time, you can increase your revenue, and avoid missing out on vital business opportunities. You’ll have a more professional appearance and presence, which will help you build trust with potential clients.