Hey developers, what is your itinerary for developing a ‘cool’ website? Your answer comprises a combination of markup languages, design, client-side scripts, and frameworks. But, let me interrupt you at this point: your website does not serve the purpose even after putting all the latest techniques of customized web development if you fail to understand the user behavior.
You have to strive for building a website that offers customer-facing interface functions or say, a fully functional front-end that can please the end user.
As a front-end developer, you know it very well that the wrong design can result in a drastic drop in revenue followed by a tainted brand reputation for your client.
Here I mention a few common coding-related and other mistakes that you should keep an eye on to avoid a mess:
Use of tables
Mistake: A few years back, tables were the only way of element placement in HTML. Some of the web developers still use <table> elements for creating layouts.
Effect: Tables can cause design flaws and as we use different browsers these days, chances of misplacements are fairly high with tables.
Solution: Today, table designs are replaced by both CSS and Div containers for creating a layout. We can use tables for displaying information charts, but we CANNOT use them for creating layouts. Instead, you should opt for “table-less” layouts while designing HTML code.
Old or New Elements
Well, you’re familiar with the <canvas> tag, a replacement for Adobe Flash. Along with this, HTML5 has brought a lot of changes to the standards of CSS design.
Mistake: Usage of <span> element instead of other more appropriate semantic-specific tags, or using tags like <center> or <font> that are not supported by HTML5.
Effect: It is always better to avoid coding with the standards set by old-school HTML versions. Some browsers do not offer support for older HTML versions, and your website can face the consequences of applying older standards in the long run.
Solution: Just get used to the latest markup options and use CSS for displaying content correctly. You can see all the current markup options at whatwg.org. Follow all the HTML5 standards to remove any security-related loopholes in your site.
Test or Forget
Mistake: You may forget to test your website for offering support to the major browsers.
Effect: Your site may get failed to load on a few browsers, or its performance may impact negatively.
Solution: It is wise to test your code in the major browsers like Chrome and Firefox along with the targeted browsers. You can find the targeted browsers through your site’s browsing analytics data or any external source for deciding common browsers.
Also, you need to consider the oldest browser version you want to support because many users stick to the same older browser version for a long time. You need to maintain code for both old and new versions of the most popular browsers, and you require testing the code for that purpose.
Responsiveness or No-responsiveness
Mistake: At times, you assume users will view the site on their desktops or laptops.
Effect: You know it better that your website must be responsive in the edge of smartphones. If you don’t opt for a responsive front-end design, your site will be punished on SERPs.
Solution: Your website should have a responsive design by default. Even if you make your site responsive, you cannot afford to skip responsiveness test for all mobile browsers and browser versions. You can use emulators to get rid of acquiring several devices at once for testing. Bootstrap is a very popular library for developing a responsive website.
Ignoring site speed
Mistake: You may get persuaded by robust websites with high quality images and graphics. You add many pictures and other stuff to make your website more enticing for the users, and in this attempt you may end up with a complex and extensive source HTML markup.
Effect: Site rendering time becomes too long to tolerate for the users. Either they will give up or re-request the whole page. At times, your site may suffer from random errors.
Solution: ‘This site can’t be reached’ or ‘server is taking too long to respond’ is the most dreadful nightmare for the developers. You must identify the elements that cause your site to respond slowly using a few website speed testers. In a way, you can optimize your site’s performance and eliminate even the slightest possibility of higher load time.
You can minimize the file size of your images with tools like RIOT and Shrink O’Matic. You can also use Minify CSS and Minify JS for minimizing linked CSS and JS files respectively.
Authentication and authorization
Mistake: Broken Authentication links or faulty authorization protocol.
Effect: Mistakes in authentication and authorization make your site vulnerable to hackers. You risk both website safety and user privacy through giving access to the wrong people.
Solution: Any of these web authentication methods can enhance your website’s security. All you need is to remain alert about both authentication and authorization while developing a website.
Inclusion of meaningless pages
Mistake: The user-centric pages with useful content with no hints to the search engines. You have not implemented accessibility features.
Effect: Pages undiscoverable through search engines may get little or no visits. Also, the page content may remain very cryptic with the impaired vision, and your website fails to support any SEO campaign.
Solution: You can add <meta> tags to provide meaning to a page along with keywords and description for SEO purpose. Each of your <img> or <area> tags should have alt=”your image description” attribute for enhancing accessibility experience. You can also test your web page here for Section 508 compliance.
Site refreshes frequently
Mistake: Your site requires full refreshes of a page for each interaction.
Effect: Due to frequent refreshing, page loading time increases, and the user experience hits hard. Each interaction could result in a brief or even a long resetting of the web page.
Mistake: In an attempt to support all browsers and versions, you can create a ‘Universal’ code that becomes a bunch of if statements and diverts in all the directions.
Effect: You will find the forking code difficult to manage with the arrival of newer browser updates. Your front-end design may become a victim of redundancy due to such code.
Solution: It’s better to implement feature detection in code than browser detection as it reduces the amount of code and facilitated you in reading and managing the code. You can use Modernizr library for feature detection as well as getting support for older browser versions that do not compatible with HTML5 or CSS3.
Using <br/> tags to Space Div
Mistake: Practice of using <br/> tags is as old as the table layout. Sadly, this practice is still living, and developers use <br/> tags instead of margins or paddling while editing other developer’s code.
Effect: It is not a good practice while the document is validated. It causes browsers rendering inconsistent spacing, and the layout will end up being messed up. It also crosses the line of separating structure from presentation while muddling the code.
Solution: ‘Habits die hard’, but you need to leave this habit as we opt for “table-less” layouts as mentioned in the first mistake.
Using inline CSS
Mistake: It was expected that after semantics and structure and design separation would gain ground, the older practice of using inline CSS would gradually disappear. But unfortunately, it does not happen yet.
Effect: Inline CSS makes HTML coding more complicated and defeats the core purpose of CSS to keep the website readily updatable. Inline CSS is also responsible for an SEO-based penalty for the website as it makes longer for spiders to crawl the website.
Solution: Focus on semantics and structure separation can help you avoid inline CSS.
Effect: Putting full CSS can slow down the loading of your page especially if you have multiple scripts in it. Full CSS hits hard particularly the larger websites as it is directly connected with the page load time.
That’s it for now. We could cover limited mistakes from an umbrella term ‘web design and development’ that encompasses development of a website, web portal, and web application.
Here are your takeaways of this blog: Just remain careful about both authorization and authentication, plan your web development process carefully, insist on performance, and never ignore any web development aspect to avoid any encounter with a long list of problems.
Happy developing! Cheers.