Excellent web development creates sites that work as expected and keep people coming back. If users notice a website doesn’t load quickly or look attractive on their chosen devices, they might decide to look elsewhere for sites that have similar content.
Here are some of the most common web development mistakes people make — and more importantly, how to fix them.
Many of today’s internet users take out their smartphones to access content instead of going to computers. That trend led to responsive design, which means developing a site that functions equally well on all screen sizes and devices.
If web developers notice their sites don’t accommodate mobile users, they should first contact the people responsible for the design side of things. Designers can do things like switch font sizes and color schemes to make the content maximally readable. Then, developers need to tackle things like site loading speed and navigation bars or buttons.
When people find a site’s main content and its images take more than a second or two to load on their phones, they will likely lose patience. That’s why it’s smart to target the most-used mobile devices and screen resolutions when tweaking a site to make it mobile-friendly. Also, developers who use WordPress may find the most straightforward approach is to choose a responsive theme. It adjusts the website automatically, depending on a person’s device.
The best way to steer clear of the problem of websites not working well on mobile devices is to have those gadgets in mind from the start. Developers can also ask friends who primarily access the internet on their smartphones or tablets to mention what they appreciate most about mobile-ready sites. Then, they could incorporate some of them into their planned improvements.
In both web development and design, site professionals often discover there’s a fine line between aesthetics and functionality. An appealing website makes people want to linger and engage with the content. But, if web development professionals try to boost aesthetics by adding irrelevant Flash elements, those portions can make the website load slowly.
In other cases, the content won’t load at all because a user disabled Flash in their browser. A good rule to follow is to only use Flash in places that improve the user experience. It’s especially crucial to keep that in mind when designing web destinations that directly drive profits, such as e-commerce sites.
Developers can meet with the people who are handling the design aspects and share ideas about how to minimize or eliminate Flash while keeping page loading speed a top-of-mind concern. Developers may find they can achieve all the things Flash did by switching to HTML5. Many members of web development communities say they’ve moved away from Flash and rarely or never use it now.
People who have several years of web development experience but haven’t taken the time to update their skills may be using outdated HTML. It’s a common web development mistake that can make lines of code longer than necessary and cause layout problems in some browsers. Obsolete portions of HTML code cause warnings in HTML conformance checkers, too.
Web developers should not use these obsolete elements of HTML. It’s impossible to predict how long the site will continue to work correctly with them included. Preventing old HTML issues starts with taking courses or getting engrossed in other training materials to update HTML skills. Alternatively, if someone needs to fix outdated HTML, they should learn the most current standards first, then work through the code to replace old stuff.
The most highly functional site in the world quickly loses that title if it only works well on one browser. Cross-browser tests ensure a website functions smoothly across all the major browsers that people use. The principle involves checking to see if the site works across an acceptable number of browsers.
There’s no universal figure that people accept. Web developers should confer among themselves while working, as well as check with the site owner to determine which browsers to support. It’s not sufficient to only check a website on one or two browsers. Developers should also be aware some of their users may load the sites on old browsers.
Fortunately, tools exist that simulate how a website appears and functions in a selected assortment of browsers. Those are good starting points. But it’s even better if the development team members have connections to people who still use older or less-common browsers in real life. Then, they could recruit those individuals for site run-throughs.
Some companies may overlook adequate cross-browser tests when rushing to launch the newest version of a site. Before they make that risky call, though, they should think about the potential adverse impacts on user experiences and the brand’s reputation if a site doesn’t perform in a certain browser.
Some web developers like to work in a “bubble.” They keep their heads down and dutifully write code to their clients’ expectations but don’t seek outside feedback. A lack of time, fear of criticism or stringent requirements from their bosses are some of the things that can stop web development professionals from seeing what everyday users think.
Another related problem happens when a persistent divide prevents developers and designers from communicating. Sometimes, that gap forms because designers and developers believe there are no similarities between the work they do.
These problems have slightly different solutions. Developers can bring external feedback into the picture by periodically asking users to describe what would make the website better. Or, before a company launches a major new feature or an app, it could bring in a group of testers from the public. Doing this could make developers aware of issues they’d otherwise miss.
But, if the feedback doesn’t flow because the development and design teams don’t talk to each other regularly, solving the problem requires finding the reasons for the disconnection first. Developers can start by striving to see their work through the eyes of a design expert. It’s also helpful if the design and development groups attend ongoing informal meetings, such as monthly company-hosted luncheons.
Safeguard against this internal communication by fostering a collaborative spirit between the two teams. When a company hires a new developer or designer, the onboarding process should include introducing the person to individuals in the enterprise that handle all aspects of web design and development. Plus, the representative overseeing the onboarding could set expectations for further interactions.
Being inclusive when building a website means ensuring disabled people can use it without difficulties. Many people with sight impairments, for example, use screen readers that describe the screen for them. Developers need to plan for that kind of assistive technology by including alt text for each image a site contains. Include captions for more complex pictures.
Avoid falling short with accessibility by making it an early and enduring priority. Besides following best practices for developing an accessible site, ask disabled people to give their opinions about where the site excels and which areas still need work. Moreover, developers must remember some individuals may not use a mouse and keyboard to navigate around a site. It should work with traditional input, plus voice-control commands.
If a company has never prioritized accessibility and wants to start, they should work on that goal methodically without trying to take on too many development tasks at once. It’s useful to work through a checklist of accessibility features and potentially hire a consultant to assist.
Some web development professionals think they don’t need to learn search engine optimization (SEO) principles. They assume other people, such as members of the content writing team, will take care of everything associated with SEO. Indeed, SEO is not the primary concern of web developers, but they should still know the basics.
Companies can stay safeguarded from an SEO knowledge pitfall by requiring all their current developers and people they hire to understand it. But, if web developers didn’t remain mindful of SEO while creating a website, they can work through a point-by-point plan for improving it. Getting advice from other people at the company who work with SEO more frequently is also valuable.
Commit to Making Positive Changes
Even web developers with years of experience make some of these blunders. The important thing for people to remember is that once they recognize their mistakes, they can decide to remedy their ways with some of the strategies mentioned here.