We have come a long way from the time when artists used to paint with water colors and brushes. Then their web designer descendants picked up the mouse and battled with technology to create rudimentary websites in the 90s. Today slick, stunning websites are only a few drags and drops away. With no artistic skills, no web development chops, and just WYSIWYG editors, everybody has turned into a budding designer.
Though HTML5, CSS, source code packages and so-called Dreamweavers have made our digital lives much simpler, they have also made us lazier. The attention to detail that the early web developers gave to each line of HTML code, each frame they created for a website, each color and font that they handpicked for their pet projects, is sorely missed today. Here’s a look at the top 11 signs that you’re a culprit of lazy web design.
1. HelveticaNow that Helvetica has been anointed as the ‘it’ typeface for digital applications by leading design gurus, designers or wannabe designers no longer bother experimenting with what typefaces will suit their site or brand the best.
It’s a blind beeline towards Helvetica, hence diluting the charm of that once singular typeface.
2. Stock photosEach time you stumble onto a site with two people in business suits smiling and shaking hands with each other, you can rest assured the designer has not bothered to venture beyond the first page of Getty Images or ShutterStock for their image needs.
Yes, stock photos are necessary and way cheaper than a custom photo shoot, but there’s a whole world of brilliant stock images out there. If you only care to look around. Check out Pixabay or Gratisography for some stunning free to use images.
3. Boring layouts made from templatesWith the same 5 templates from WordPress doing the rounds everywhere you turn, there IS such a thing as too much of a good thing. It may be tempting to pick a readymade, popular template for the layout of your website. Saves time, saves effort. Often it’s free so it even saves you some money.
But think about it like a visitor. Would YOU seek out a site that looks exactly like thousands of others on the net or would you rather spend your time on a uniquely designed, information rich site?
4. ‘Click here’Probably the most overdone button in the history of the internet, ‘Click Here’ has the unique distinction of being wildly popular in spite of conveying almost no real call to action to the user.
Ditch this lazy option for more descriptive buttons that actually tell the user what to expect once they click on them. Something like ‘Proceed to Checkout’ or ‘Download Now’ convey a message while still providing the click functionality.
5. Auto-play music and videosVideos are a popular feature of many websites, even on the home page. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as a designer, you must respect the fact that most users are multi-tab, mobile internet users who are probably at work or on a bus or a train while accessing your website.
Embarrassing them with loud sound that starts by itself when your site opens up is a 100% fool-proof way of ensuring that they close your site tab as soon as they possibly can.
6. Large blocks of textSure, your job is to design; not write copy. But the final product – the website – is entirely your baby, right? In that case, drop your laziness and READ the copy before pasting it mindlessly into your web design.
Prune the copy to make it more readable. Adapt it to suit your design. Better still, adapt your design to suit the copy.
7. Overuse of animationFlash intros were not popular with customers even in the era when they were widely used across many websites. They were slow to load, conveyed little or no information and used up precious bandwidth in the pre-broadband age.
Drop your flash intros today. They’re outdated, tacky, do not play on Apple devices and do not add any real value to your site.
8. Endless checkout processA checkout process that meanders all over the place, asks for the same information twice (first billing address, then shipping address), asks for useless, irrelevant information is a checkout process into which very little thought was put into, from a design perspective.
In an age where there are ultra-simple iPad based POS systems like Vend in real world stores, having convoluted checkout processes in an ecommerce set up is unforgivable.
9. No mobile version, non-responsive designWith smartphone access to websites now officially overtaking access from desktops, not having a mobile version of your site is simply irresponsible. The ideal scenario would be a responsive web design which works great across all devices, but the very least in this case would be a mobile optimized site at the very least.
10. Not optimized for searchLazy designers / developers are to blame for the most part for the terrible SEO capabilities most of the sites on the internet are born with. This includes no Alt Tags on images, none or very perfunctory meta data for the page, not using keywords in important areas of the page like the header tag, meta description, title tag, URL and more.
11. No testingDesigners who subscribe to the ‘build it and forget it’ school of thought do a major disservice to their websites. Whether build up from scratch or using a drag and drop editor, ALL websites need to be rigorously tested before being formally launched. This prevents rookie errors that may have gone unnoticed and led to lower conversions eventually.
Use a comprehensive testing tool like Optimizely to check every aspect of your site before you take it live.