Common mistakes by website designers
Over the years we have noticed a range of impediments to online success occurring time and again. Finally we decided to document some of them.
Designers who are ignorant of SEO
Ignorance may be bliss, but not for the website owner wondering why his website is struggling to bring in appropriate levels of business. Here are some of the most common issues:
Invalid HTML code
Invalid code is unreliably rendered or is slower when accessed by a browser or a search engine, impeding the visitor experience. It can also mean complete chunks of code are ignored when the page is processed.
It is amazing how many sites do not render properly (display as the designer would have intended) in most of the recent versions of the popular browsers. Designers prefer to build to the lowest common denominator - the quirky versions of Internet Explorer that (thankfully) have been superseded and are used much less frequently. It is a simple matter to test the site in a variety of browsers, yet many designers don't bother.
Extraneous code on the pages
Programs such as FrontPage and Dreamweaver and some of the online building tools leave a lot of redundant styling within each web page. Externalise the style instructions in a separate CSS file.
Title and Meta information
Often these tags are simply ignored and the opportunity to impart valuable information to the search engines is lost.
Website designers who mistakenly believe they are SEO gurus
In most cases, when these guys get it wrong their clients' websites are at risk.
All the previous points
Unfortunately, just because these guys think they are SEO gurus, it doesn't mean they don't suffer from some or all the problems listed above
Meta tag abuse
Meta description and meta keyword tags are often stuffed with unnecessary and irrelevant keywords. The result is that the limit of characters used for each tag by the search engines is exceeded and therefore loses any credibility. The human searcher, seeing the poorly written information displayed in search results, tends to pass over the site.
Keyword stuffing in html tags
As with meta tags, there are plenty of other opportunities to stuff keywords. For example, the alt attribute required for images. It should only be used to describe the content or the purpose of the image.
Hidden links or text
Duplicate Content sites
It is not okay to grab another great keyword-rich domain name or two and use the content from the existing site. It is a great way to be penalised by the search engines.
The disclaimer following the therapeutic rant
We know, respect and greatly envy the skill of a number of designers. They deliver great looking sites. Some of them go one step further to deliver their designs as well constructed, standards aware, reliable and usable websites. In our experience, sites of this integrity are unfortunately rare.
No doubt I have missed other common mistakes. I'll update this page as time permits.
Feel free to contact us to discuss any ideas raised by this page or offer your suggestions for mistakes you've experienced.