1. Failing to Validate HTML on W3C
Ranked number two last year, validating HTML has now moved to the number one position for biggest website mistake. 89% of the sites I ran an analysis on failed to validate.Validating your code is now more important than ever. Besides just having a page without errors, validating your HTML could improve your sites accessibility to other devices besides your typical computer, like a cellphone for example.
One site I ran an analysis on had, almost comically, 1,622 errors it its code. Think that site displayed well?
Validating can save you countless hours of work troubleshooting problems, can remove some potential embarrassing mistakes you were not aware of, and can even help improve your search engine rankings. Don’t now how to validate your sites code? Try W3C’s HTML Validation Service.
2. Improper Use of Heading Tags
This is another big one, and failure to use heading tags correctly ranked first last year. 83% of the sites I checked failed to use heading tags correctly, or even at all. Using heading tags correctly will improve website usability, and could also improve your website search engine rankings.
3. Previously Viewed Hyperlinks Did Not Change Color
See the hyperlink I have used in item #2, “Using heading tags correctly”? Click it and come back to this page. Noticed how it changed colors? It’s not a strong color change on this site, but it does change.
The point is that there is a simple visual clue telling you the page has already been visited. 72% of the sites I analyzed failed to use this simple/expected feature. Visited hyperlinks should show a different color.
4. Failed to Define Font Sizes by EM or Percentage
Defining font sizes by pixels disables a users ability to enlarge it if they are having trouble reading it. The best way to define your font size is with EM. 64% of the sites I looked at defined font size by pixels.
5. Failed to Validate CSS
Your style sheet is more important than you may think, and making sure it validates should be a primary concern. Besides what it could do to your sites layout, your websites loading speed is highly influenced by your CSS file. Your CSS file tells your browser how to render (draw) your site. A poorly developed, and poorly coded CSS file will cause slowdowns in the rendering, and potentially layout mistakes. This item tied with #4.
6. Inadequate Information on the Contact Page
A little over half the sites I analyzed failed to have an adequate contact page. If all you have on your contact page is an email form, you failed this part of the analysis. Many sites didn’t even include their business name on the contact page. That is like someone asking your name, and you say “Yes”. Here is a quick how to: Contact Information.
7. Failed to Design for Repeat Visitors
Since December of 2009, I have been stressing to get your website to do something. A great place to start is getting subscribers. 45% of the sites analyzed failed to do this.
I always stress to my new clients on getting some sort of email list or news feed going. They never want to at first for some reason. I’m guessing they see it as extra work, but sooner or later they finally decide to get it. The end result? They wish they started it day one! You want your visitors to come back, don’t you? If you are selling online, this should almost be mandatory.
8. Failed to Have an Introduction Message or Tag Line
40% of the sites I looked at failed to introduce themselves. I’m not saying you should have your site say “Hi” to your visitors, but it should certainly explain itself. I know most of you reading this have websites where the bulk of your visitors (greater than 75%) are new visitors. They have never seen your site before, and they have know idea who you are.
Studies strongly suggest you have seconds to clue new visitors in. Think a big bold intro could help? Can you guess what this site is about by only looking at the header?
9. Failed to Have a Quality Title
It’s the meat between the <title> tags. On this page it’s “Top Ten Website Mistakes for 2009″. I saw a ton of sites that simply said “Home” or “index.html”. Some sites appeared almost condescending with their incredibly long keyword lists. This is how you title your pages: Title of Site. Sites that failed to have a quality title: 32%.
10. Failed to Use the ALT Attribute for Images
The final blow brings it all together. 30% of all the sites I analyzed failed to use the ALT attribute. Using the ALT attribute for your images will improve accessibility to those that can’t see it, and this doesn’t just apply to those that are visually impaired. It improves accessibility for all of our techy devices that are visually impaired as well.
Using the ALT attribute can improve your search engine rankings and improve your websites accessibility.
It’s the final blow because if your site validated, Mistake #1, the ALT mistake would have been avoided. I suggest using the Title Attribute as well.
What Did Website Designers Do Best?
Of the items I check for in my analysis, picking colors to use on a website appears to be an easy item to do right!