January 30, 2016
Common Mistakes Made by Web Developers
Albert Einstein, the story goes, was so occupied solving the mysteries of the universe that he neglected such trivial matters as learning his home address. This and similar anecdotal tales gives us a lighthearted, even comical perspective on one of the world’s greatest geniuses. Unfortunately, oversights commonly made by web developers are not a laughing matter.
Let’s look at five of the most common mistakes even the most brilliant developers are prone to make.
Failure to Comply With ADA
You may have heard of the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA), but did you know that the ADA affects more than the workplace, public buildings, and public transportation?
ADA Section 508 requires that all information technology used by the federal government comply with standards of easy access by persons with “physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities”. Persons with disabilities may use software or device features that present enlarged versions of websites and apps, or that translate content into audio. Affected web products must be designed with ADA in mind, if they are to provide such access. Many state and local governments also require technology vendors to provide ADA-compliant products.
Surprisingly, many web developers are unaware of ADA requirements when submitting proposals to government agencies.
If you hire developers to build websites or apps for government agencies, it is your responsibility to ensure that the developer you hire understands how ADA requirements might affect the project. Even if your web project is not intended for a government agency, making your site ADA compliant is a good practice, since persons with disabilities do not only visit government websites.
Lack of Originality
A perusal of some developers’ portfolios reveals one or two templates recycled for dozens of clients. Modern CMS templates can be configured in a virtually infinite number of ways, so developers have no excuse for failing to provide a unique, one-of-a-kind website to each of their clients. Even so, many web firms use the cookie-cutter approach in order to pad their client lists, rather than focusing on delivering quality products.
Of course, the best way to ensure that your site’s layout is unique is to hire a designer who will design it from the ground up, without the use of templates or third-party themes.
Appearance is not the only aspect of a site that must be original; content must also be fresh and no recycled. One of the best ways to drive traffic to a site is to use unique content. Even if reusing content does not violate a copyright, search engines will penalize you for mirroring the same information found elsewhere.
Not every developer has the skills to develop fresh content for their clients. In fact, most do not. Before you hire a developer, make sure they are capable of producing professionally-written content specifically for your organization.
Focus on Presentation
A horrible disease seems to be infecting a good number of web developers. Based on how frequently it shows up, it must be pandemic. There is no name for it, but symptoms include websites that are bulging at the seams with over-sized headers, busy graphics, and bloated videos that don’t wait for an invitation. You’d think it was the 80s all over again.
The web is rife with examples of poorly designed websites. By carefully selecting your developer, you can ensure that your website is not added to the list. After all, the purpose of your website is to inform and attract customers, not to frustrate them and drive them away.
A professional developer will focus on building a site that makes doing business with your customers easier, not harder. Your site should load quickly, include well-organized content, and have easy navigation elements. Viewing a developer’s client portfolio is the best way to determine if the sites they build meet these critical objectives.
There is a place for beauty and a place for functionality. Make sure the developer you select knows how to balance the two.
Over/Under Reliance on Technology
Just because your developer can include a feature in your website doesn’t mean they should. With the powerful development tools available, today, many developers feel compelled to load up their sites with unnecessary technology that does nothing to enhance the visitor experience.
Popup boxes (yes, they are back) that solicit visitors’ emails before they even land on the Home page are one example of technology overuse. Make sure your developer leaves popups in the 80s, where they belong.
One of the most grievous uses of web technology are bandwidth-hungry ads—especially video ads. Professional developers understand how to leverage advertising to make their client sites revenue generators, without causing visitors to turn around at the door.
Not all technology is bad. The vast amount of web-related apps, modules, and design platforms leaves many developers unsure of which new tools they should use or how to use them. For example, frameworks can give novice developers a false security by making it easy to violate best practices in design, testing, or security. Further, complex security software packages can offer so many configuration options that some developers simply install them with default settings. A professional developer will know which tools are best suited for building your site and making it secure, and will know how to use them.
Lack of Ongoing Support
A Google search on the phrase “lack of support from my webmaster” yields 1,150,000 results. Not an earth-shattering number, perhaps, unless one or more of the search results contains comments about YOUR developer. Make sure that the developer you select will be around after the sale by asking what kind of ongoing support they provide.
The following list reflects actual comments left online by unhappy web clients. It should help you formulate some questions to use as you vet developers for your project.
- “My web developer could not restore my site after a crash/hack because he did not make a backup.”
- “My web developer takes too long to respond to my phone calls or emails.”
- “My site got hacked because my web developer failed to keep my site platform and extensions updated, or because they did not install or update adequate security software on my account.”
- “My web developer never suggests what we can do to keep my site fresh. I’ve had the same site for four years. I guess I’ll look for someone else to create a new responsive design.”
- “My web developer does nothing to help my site achieve a good search ranking.”
- “My web developer never calls or emails to see if I need them to update my site.”
- “My web developer will not provide me access to my site files. What if he dies?”
- “My web developer does not provide me with traffic stats for my site.”
- “My web developer is slow at making requested changes to my site.”
- “My web developer does not have a backup when he goes on vacation.”
Development Done Right
If you need the services of developers who know how to attract your customers, not drive them away, we invite you to contact KDG. We are professional developers who never compromise on the quality of products we provide our clients, and nobody provides better ongoing support.
Our skilled team develops robust enterprise technology solutions for clients across the globe. We specialize in custom web platform development, user-friendly web portals for higher education institutions, and technology-driven crowdfunding campaigns. We understand the technology, we understand relevant standards, and we understand how to develop projects that don’t falter when changes are necessary.
At KDG, best practices is not a buzzword and customer support is not a catchphrase. They are the benchmarks of everything we do.