Designing a website is both art and science. It requires artistic endeavor, visualization from user’s perspective, and great technical skills to convert the visualized design into palpable creativity. The worst thing any company can do is to copy another company’s website and implement it as his/her own. This sequence, if repeated by other companies, leads to a group of inadequately designed websites. It doesn’t suffice the basic requirement of user experience. Such websites qualify a low rank in SEO valuations, resulting in poor traffic and low site ranking in search engine ranking.
There are web design techniques that should be avoided or chosen with objective analysis, as they might be either harming website design, or diminishing SEO valuation. Some are discussed below:
1. Using Tables in Website Layout
Using tables in a web page layout makes the page complicated, as most layout tables use a lot of table attributes such as colspan, rowspan and nested tables. Although designing tables may be easy, the maintenance is tough. Most screen readers find it difficult to understand tables as they are supposed to read it in the sequence displayed in HTML, and the content within a table layout becomes puzzling when read from left to right and top to bottom. This is further exacerbated when the table is nested. HTML5 advocates avoiding tables in page layout and HTML 4.01 disallows it. Presentation is kept separate from HTML, when CSS is used, so maintenance of tables in CSS is a bit easier. Tables might obstruct the flexibility of the page affect SEO. Nested tables take a lot more time to load than CSS for the same design. (1)
2. Infinite Scrolling
Although scrolling is a very popular design and frequently used across most websites (especially e-commerce), it is not for every website. Using this technique depends on the goals of the website. If the goal of the website is to stream content continuously and the content structure is flat, it can be useful. However, if the goal of the website is to assist users to locate a specific task or compare choices, it can hurt user experience.
In specific task accomplishment, users find grouped content more interesting. The user might feel overpowered by the abundance of information presented by scrolling a never ending page (leading to low conversion). Hence, infinite scrolling is a bad technique for websites focussed on task accomplishment activities. This requires them to back-track their search or find a specific content. (2)
3. Parallax Scrolling
Although parallax scrolling is widely used and is a good function that leads to a loyal visitor, there are issues associated with it too. Parallax scrolling may lead to low valuation for SEO ranking. If the parallax website is one page of content, images, and good visual display it is OK. However, if the website has infographic.i.e. image having text, Google does not read it! This can lead to low SEO ranking. It can be sorted by converting the image content to actual text. The problem associated with footers should be taken into account as some users might be looking at the information available at the bottom of the page. Parallax web pages with images may take longer than usual to load, thereby making most users leave the website before the page actually loads. (3)
4. Lazy Loading:
Lazy loading does not allow content or images to load until users interact with that part of the page. This content then cannot be indexed by spiders and will not be able to load the rest of the page (only the visible content gets indexed). This can lead to low valuations for SEO and hurt the page traffic. The development and SEO team should evaluate the intended design to figure out complicated elements that will be difficult to implement. (4)
5. Lack of Mobile Configured Design
With high infiltration of mobile, it is essential for a company to have its website mobile friendly, with a responsive and adaptive design. This has a direct bearing on traffic. With Google’s introduction of mobile algorithm, websites who are not mobile friendly are pushed down into the search listing. A responsive design allows loading of the website on all device types. Device detection is possible through adaptive design, which allows progressive improvement as per user requirements. However, configuration to all available device types may be a challenge. Responsive/adaptive technique of design uses the responsive feature for all content and special coding for images making lightweight pages for mobile, and this improves load time. (5)
Trying to copy a so called ‘great design’ from some other website might look new and creative, but such steps can act as a barrier to meeting the desired goals and objectives of the website in the long run. They may not only harm the creative appeal, but also block the natural SEO valuation of the website.
The above mentioned issue areas are a glimpse into the possible faltering design technique which may either arm or harm a website. It is essential for the site owner to fully understand the purpose of these website designing techniques before just applying them to their website for maximizing gains.
(1)Kyrnin, Jennifer. “Don’t Use Tables for Layout.” About Tech website. 24 February 2015
(2)Loranger, Hoa. “Infinite Scrolling Is Not for Every Website.” 2 February 2014. NN Group Website. 24 February 2015
(3)Ryan. “Common problems with popular designs.” 24 November 2014. Inspired Mag Website. 24 February 2015
(4,5) Schachinger, Kristine. “5 Techniques That May Be Killing Your Website (and SEO).” 18 February 2015. Search Engine Watch Website. 24 February 2015