Four Common Web Design Misconceptions

By Kathryn Schroeder | August 2014

Think of all the daily tasks you can do online: shopping, communicating, listening to music, banking, finding directions, tracking your workout, choosing where to go to dinner. As the web becomes more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, a solid web presence is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for your business!

Your website is the first impression most customers will have of your company, so it needs to be engaging and well designed. Here, we list four common misconceptions, and best practice techniques to improve your site.

Misconception #1

“My important content should be placed above the fold”

The term “above the fold” was originally used to refer to the upper half of a newspaper. The more eye-catching headlines and photos were placed here because when newspapers were folded and stacked at newsstands, only the above the fold content was visible. In web design, above the fold refers to the content that can be seen without scrolling. This idea brings up a few problems.

First of all, the readability, story telling and the overall design aesthetic should not be compromised by squishing a ton of content into the first 800 pixels of your site. If your users are engaged, they will scroll. Use the length of your page to tell your story. If everything of importance is thrust upon the reader at the beginning, they’ll be disappointed as they continue to explore your site. Or worse yet, navigate away from your site immediately because of information overload.

Secondly, users view your content on so many different devices now, it’s impossible to gauge what will fit on their screen. Is your user visiting your site from a smartphone, laptop or tablet? Each screen shows a different view of your site.

Best Practice: Have well-edited, interesting content to keep users engaged, no matter where they are on your site.

Misconception #2

“My site should look the same in all browsers”

This request is the bane of any developer’s existence. Each browser renders websites a little differently, so if you open your site in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, each one will display your site with subtle differences. In addition, each version of a browser will also have slight differences. Site variations across browsers are inevitable!

Best Practice: Have your site coded to be compatible with most modern web browsers, with specific fixes implemented as needed.

Misconception #3

"If you build it, they will come"

The launch of your site is not the endgame. Once your new website is live, the work really begins. To make your website really effective, you need to allocate time and resources to creating new content and increasing traffic. Establish yourself and your business as a trusted source of information with informative blog posts. Connect with your customers through social media marketing. Try PPC campaigns and promoted posts to advertise you site to new users.

Best Practice: Make your website your marketing and sales hub by offering value to your customers through information and interactions.

Misconception #4

“My visitors will like what I like”

When creating your site, you must set aside your own preferences and approach your site from your customer’s point of view. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Start by researching your customers: How do they find your site? What are they looking for? What is their end goal? Segment your audiences into different personas with different needs and refer to these insights often. Each decision should be informed by your research and be tailored towards the needs of your end users.

Best Practice: Remember, you are not your target audience. What is your audience looking for?

Topics: Web Design, User Experience Design, Design Basics: Learning Center