You have just taken delivery of your sparkling new website, full of specially optimised content and are looking forward to a rosy future of high quality traffic.  At first you are not disappointed, and the compliments and business roll in.  Fast forward a few months, and somehow the website doesn't look so fresh, despite all your efforts keep it updated with new information and content.

The thing is, most people pay a lot of attention to their website while it is being developed, but that attention starts to drift away over time, and almost everyone drifts into time-saving activities.  The gradual accumulation of these can ruin your perfect website. 

Here are our top five:

1. Content-free content

My son creates movie trailers for pretend films, and has a knack for writing phrases that make the 'film' sound really great, especially when paired with the moving images.  He writes things like...

You see those windows on almost every website that you visit:  the little popup asking you to accept their cookie policy.  On some websites, if you ignore them they keep coming back.  They can be particularly annoying when you are using your phone or tablet, as they can take over your entire screen.

However, they exist for a good reason.  Those slightly annoying popups are helping to remind you that information is being collected about you, and that you have a right to know what that information is, and why it is being collected.  The reason we see these is due to a European Directive on privacy, called the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, commonly known as the 'cookie law'. 

At AlbanyWeb we are great fans of personal privacy online, and our websites use cookies very sparingly.  Take a look at our cookie policy and see...

Too often we see websites that look great and well organised on the surface.  Somehow all the important information is not where you expect to find it.  We call it the 'empty calendar' syndrome.  This is where we see a lovely calendar or diary widgit or box or area, which has no events or activities.  Instead, they are in one big text list in a blog post or news article.

Because it is often easier to add a blog post, the blog area becomes the dumping ground for all the updateable information, and the rest of the website remains with the pristine (and often generic) wording it had on the launch date.  Which is now increasingly out of date.  What is wrong with this scenario?  It makes the visitor work very hard to find the important information from your website, and most visitors won't work very hard, and won't visit...

The clue is in the word 'design':  most people think of a website design as totally taken up in appearance and images.  The look of the potential new website is what they want to see first.  That is completely reasonable:  how a website looks at first glance is extremely important, especially if it is supporting a business.

Once the 'design' is taken care of, the next step in the process is to add all the necessary information - all the content.  Many of our customers use the 'design' phase (the phase where we create the appearance) to gather up the information that they will eventually add to that design.

This two-step process is so ubiquitous in website design that most designers use placeholder text and images in the first step, creating beautiful eye-catching arrangements. 

The problem comes when the 'real' content replaces the placeholder content, and the customer discovers that...

In these days of human-friendly webforms and plain language instructions, the term 'alt text' is an geeky reminder of the first years of web development, when simple websites were built using raw HTML. 

Seeing those words on a image upload form or dialog, anyone can be mistaken for thinking this is something too technical and opaque to bother about.  Really, what does it mean? 

Take the time to learn, because the 'alt text' attribute can be your best friend on your website.

What does 'alt text' mean?

The term 'alt text' is a short version of 'alternative text'.  It refers to a word, phrase, or better yet, brief sentence that can be added to an image or graphic.  In cases where the image or graphic can't appear (for example, in a text-only browser or where your visitor has switch images off), the 'alt text' appears instead of the image, and...