Ten mistakes in site planning
Design is subjective, and is unlikely to please everyone. However, there are certain strategic mistakes that must be avoided. Here are ten mistakes in site planning that everyone must avoid:
1. Don't overlook the target audience: You should never forget your target audience. They are the ones you are trying to woo and they will decide the success of your design. You must find out their likes and dislikes, research their mindsets and most importantly, put yourself in their shoes. That is the surest way of knowing whether your design will work or not.
2. Failing to test platform compatibility: What works on one browser may not work on another. And there is no knowing which browser your target audience will use. Opt for maximum compatibility, that is test your site on as many browsers as you can and try arriving at a design that works best across most, if not all, browsers. This may call for some aesthetic sacrifices, but they will be well worth.
3. Non-conformance to accepted standards: Go with the accepted standards because your visitors are used to them. An attractive site may get you visitors but an interface they are not familiar with may send them scurrying off to more friendly alternatives. That would defeat the purpose of your design. A bit of originality is always a good thing but never be different without purpose.
5. Inaccurate or outdated content: This is a cardinal sin. A user visits your site for information. He or she is unlikely to return if outdated content shows up time and again. Ditto if information is changed so quickly that the visitor misses it. The trick is to know what the reader wants, and keep that information relevant.
6. Poor scope of content: Your site has to be neither a thesis nor a summary. Brevity is a good idea but not at the cost of information loss. Keep your content relevant and don't ramble. This is a foolproof way of generating good content.
7. Pages that load slowly: This is a tricky one. Pages that load slowly cost visitors. One way to handle it is to use images sparingly, avoid excessive use of graphics and keep resolutions low.
8. Hard to Maintain: Keep maintenance in mind when you begin designing; complex sites slow down updates and are prone to errors. It is best to keep them simple. Also, make sure that all hyperlinks work on your website.
9. Weak Security: Never underestimate site security. You would not want hackers to tamper with your database or make system calls.
10. Bad advertising strategy: Sites need ads for revenues. Too many ads however irk visitors. And if visitors stop coming, no one will want to place an ad on your page. The only way out of this catch 22 situation is to place ads unobtrusively and opt for a trade off between ads and visitors.