Four Common Web Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

It is rare to encounter a client who isn’t enthusiastic about their website design project. There’s a lot of fun in the process but more often than not, they can get caught up in a few areas that can deliver some sour surprises so let’s take a look at some of the more common bear traps in an effort to help avoid them next time you enter the process.

1) Fonts Aren’t Always Free

onlineSimply put, typography is one of the most powerful web design elements that make lasting impressions. It helps create a distinct identity so it isn’t uncommon for clients to get passionate about which fonts they want to use but they don’t always realize that most of the fonts loaded into a typical word processor are proprietary and can’t be used at your website without paying the owner a license fee.

That fee can be as low as few dollars to several hundred per year. So before going down the road of font selection, check with your developer (or via a quick Google search) to see if your must-haves might require additional costs.

Tip: you can always rely on having access to basic web safe fonts but you can also check out the ever expanding list of open source options at Google Fonts.

2) Yes, You Do Share Your Visitor’s Information

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-018Although it sounds great to tell site visitors via your privacy policy that you will never sell or share their information, it is rare these days for anyone to actually uphold that standard. But don’t worry, that is not a bad thing; for instance, do you have Google Analytics or some other form of third party metrics or CRM provider? If you answered yes, then you do share visitor’s information. Simply put there’s no way to use those services without sharing visitor information.

Tip: creating a good privacy policy and terms of use isn’t that difficult, here’s a good resource for putting one together.

3) Who Needs A Transparent Background Logo?

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-067Everyone. Seriously, everyone needs a copy of their logo with a transparent background. If you’re lucky, you might be able to remove the background (solid color, gradient, or pattern) without impacting the logo but that’s not usually the case. The best way to avoid this problem is to make sure your graphic designer delivers a copy of your logo with a transparent background.

In fact, you should insist on it.

Tip: The vast majority of reputable designers will provide this without asking or have no problem accommodating the request but if you designer balks then don’t be afraid to play a little hardball here.

4) Spaces & PDF Files Are Not Your Friend.

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-119If I had a nickel for every time a client discovered that trying to copy and paste from a pdf file into a content management system doesn’t work as easily as it sounds, I could probably bail out every orchestra running a deficit. But if there’s one area that continually plagues clients, it’s the unexpected time and/or costs associated with transcribing copy from sources that have sloppy or incompatible formatting.

Next to pdf files, a word processor file with tables or manually entered spaces to create faux columns or indents is another likely suspect for frustration. Sure, you did a great job at aligning all of those extra spaces by eye and they look great on a printed page but when it comes time to copy/paste, they’ll bite you squarely in the hindquarters.

So save yourself a headache down the road and review your source copy at the onset of the project with the goal of identifying trouble spots in advance so you can plan accordingly.

Tip: here’s a very handy tool that will remove the annoying line and page breaks created when trying to copy/paste from pdf file. It’s smart enough to keep paragraph breaks and I can’t count the number of hours this tool has saved so keep it in your toolbox bookmarks. As for the extra spaces, you can use the application’s integrated find/replace tool to remove them. Just enter a bunch of spaces into the “find” field and leave the “replace” field blank then let it go to town on the document.

What lessons and advice can you pass along?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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1 thought on “Four Common Web Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid”

  1. Regards to #4 for those with Wordpress driven sites:
    For cut/copy + pasted text look on your WYSIWYG editor and find the little mini document with the (T) for text symbol. You can place the text there and fix spacing issues. There are also options for columns, testimonials/quotations and lightboxes within that same editor…just make sure you “preview” before you click “update”.

    Nothing worse than an ‘oops’ post that inevitably your biggest donor/critic sees during the 20 seconds before you fix it.

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