In this article we are going to look at some of the most common mistakes that developers make when they develop themes for WordPress. (and websites in general).
- Placing sliders above the fold. Sliders can look very good and a lot of websites use a slider at the very top of the website. It looks good and makes the website look alive. It is however despite this a large mistake. Likely the most common mistake that we see developers do.The area above the fold is the most valuable real estate on your website. It is the first things that your visitors see. The content in that area can attract the visitor to scroll down and see more or it can cause them to click the back button. The reasons that sliders are a horrible option for this space is that web surfers have become blind to them. They have very low click through rates and get largely ignored. Most sliders have a click through rate below 2%. Using sliders is in other words a very ineffective way to use your websites prime real estate. You should be looking for something that give you a higher customer engagement.
- Not making sure that the theme is cross platform compatible. You want your website to be visited by as many people as possible. You therefore have to make sure that all people can use your website. If your theme doesn’t work in a certain browser than you have already limited your visitor base in a very unnecessary way. Try you theme in all browsers and make sure that it works.
- Forcing the visitor to download plugins. Your website should work without having to download any plugins or do anything else. Most visitors will not download a plugin to their browser to look at your website and most people will leave a website that asks them download something as it is likely to malware.
- DO NOT USE FLASH. Flash have never been a good option but have despite this been used on countless website. Flash is unsecured and brings with it a long row of different problems. I am however going to focus on the most important reason not to use FLASH. Flash has been discontinued and is no longer supported. It is not being patched and no work is being done on closing known or new security holes. Please use HTML5 and stay away from flash.
- Using several CSS style sheets. A common practice among developers is to create several different CSS style sheets with different functions. This makes life easier for the developer and anyone who wants to edit the website at a later date. The flip-side is that it worsen the user experience and slows down the load speed of the website. The user experience should always be put above everything else and you should therefore make sure to keep all CSS in one style sheet.
- Render blocking files. A lot of designers designs themes that is dependent on a number of external files that needs to be fully loaded before the website can be rendered completely. This slows down how long it takes before the visitor can see the website in their browser. It can be hard to completely eliminate render blocking files. Jquery is an example of a file that often needs to be loaded in the header to achieve the desired functions. Your goal should be to minimize the number of render blocking files your design have. You can usually reduce the number of render blocking files to low single digits.
- Choosing form over substance. It is very easy to get tempted to add a lot of cool effects that doesn’t really improve user experience. They can be cool the first time you see them but does not provide any lasting benefit. Effects such as these add extra code to a website and slows it down without providing anything valuable. Your goal should be to eliminate everything that is not necessary from your design. To not be afraid to kill your darlings. If it does not add value for your visitors then it shouldn’t be there. It doesn’t matter how cool it is. Consider what your website is about and what adds value to the visitors of that website. A design website might benefit from graphical effects that a site about chimneys doesn’t benefit from.
- Do not use pop ups. No one like pop ups. They are really annoying. I understand that it can be tempting to use them to try to trigger a certain behaviour but the benefits are usually limited compared to the drawbacks you get from alienating visitors and search engines. Google is known to threat pop ups as a negative ranking factor. If you feel you need to use a pop up you should do what you can to make sure it is as intrusive as possible. It should be small and not block the rest of page. You should also limit when the pop up is displayed so that it does pop up everything someone visits a new page.
- Interstitial. Interstitial is the devils work an should never be used. They are universally disliked by user and is giving lower and lower advertiser click through rate
- Building the website for you not for the users. It is very common that a developer designs the website they want to see not the website that the visitor want to see. This is a big mistake in the long run. Always try to put yourself in the mind set of some one who visited your website and try to figure out what you would like to see. Once you figured that out you should build that.