A company’s website is increasingly the primary way which new customers and businesses gain insights into the quality of an organization. Knowing how to spot poor design choices in a site can help you not only improve your own business’s online reputation but can help you recognize the flaws in your ally’s and competition’s sites.

Although this is not a comprehensive list of potential website design flaws, they do represent six of the most common oversights and errors.

New User Experience

To begin, every website should be assessed with the uninitiated in mind. Navigation tools need to be readily available and as much content as possible needs to be available with out a sign in. Additionally, the information to answer any question a user might have about the website or it’s company should be present. A great way to investigate how accessible your website is, is to get feedback from true newbies.

Use Multiple Devices to Test Compatibility

With the ubiquity of smartphones, there are now at least four major operating systems that every website needs to be prepared to deliver content unto upon request. Accounting for the different OS’s introduces more complexity into the website design, so make sure to double-check that it is working as intended across every type of device.

The Need for Speed

Even the most aesthetically pleasing website will have users quickly departing if it suffers from slow performance. The causes of a sluggish website – beyond problems on the user’s end – will typically come from inadequate network capabilities or server hardware, both of these are problems that need to be addressed by your IT administrators.

Media Overload

Moving pictures and blaring sounds are undeniably better at grabbing the attention of your website’s visitors. However, their great power should only be used with careful consideration. Over-saturation of media will only annoy the user and can distract from the more meaningful parts of your website. This is especially true if the content is indirectly related or purely advertising.

Poor and Unclear Writing

With the focus on video and audio advertisements, brought on by the spread of broadband, the text on your page can often seem dull and unimportant, but don’t treat it as so. One major benefit of text is being able to disseminate a large amount of information quickly and without taking up the same resources that AV media does. Take the time to read over every line on your site for clarity as well as grammar and punctuation errors.

The Professional Touch

Lastly, the website should look like a finished product. You may not have every page you want uploaded, but that doesn’t mean you should leave broken links, empty pages, or extra directories for unused content. Keep an eye out for inconsistencies in design choices; a navigation bar across the top or a bar along the sides shouldn’t magically transform to drop-down lists without the user explicitly requesting it.

In the end, if you take the time to look over your website to spot any places that could use some polishing, the final result will be worth it. So give it a go, improve your website, and see how a combination of presentation and functionality can’t be beat.