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10 pitfalls to avoid when developing a responsive site

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by BugFinders

Developing new apps and websites is digital agencies’ bread and butter, but the growing diversity of mobile devices, browsers and operating systems, together with the common pitfalls of web development, mean that crucial factors vital to success often get overlooked.

While performing crowdsourced software testing for many an agency, we here at BugFinders have come across a fair few errors that can take down a great site before it has a chance to get off the ground.

To help you navigate this tricky terrain, here are 10 of the most common:

1. Sites aren’t made responsive. At a time when m-commerce is growing at a phenomenal rate, you have to make the sites you develop mobile-responsive. Failing to do so will result in sites displaying incorrectly, poor functionality and lower conversion rates.

2. Software is tested on too few browsers. Understandably, you usually won’t have the time to test a site on every browser that may be used to access it. Often, the top 5 most popular browsers are tested on instead. This can, however, result in multiple customers who are unable to use and purchase on the site.

3. The CMS is left vulnerable. If a site’s Content Management System is not tested properly, there may be all sorts of ways in which hackers could use it to upload malicious content and the site could be broken as a result.

4. Mobile sites redirect to wrong page. An extension of No. 1. If a separate site is developed for mobile, rather than a responsive site, clicking on Google links to that site via a Smartphone might not work. For example, a user might click on a link to a certain web page on the site but will be redirected to the homepage instead.

5. Sites aren’t update-proof. Companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple have an irritating habit of bringing out new operating systems and browser versions all the time, threatening to ruin all the good work you’ve done by demanding alterations to make it compatible. If you start off by building your site or app to make it highly modifiable, however, you can protect yourself against the software whims of the tech giants.

6. Site security is left weak. By performing things like cross site scripting and DDos attacks, hackers can harm a site in various ways, such as gaining access to the back end database or crashing the site by putting in too many requests to access it. Building in protection early can prevent costly incidents and fixes, as well as unhappy clients, further down the line.

7. Screen resolutions aren’t accounted for. This is something that is rarely considered, but differing screen resolutions can seriously distort the layout and general appearance of a website. This can be the case even with devices made by the same company. For example, Microsoft laptop and desktop monitors often differ significantly in resolution and aspect ratio.

8. General usability isn’t considered. Not all users will want to view a site in the same way. For example, users with a visual impairment may want to increase the font size. If this option isn’t provided, as well as help and tips on how to navigate the site, you may be alienating a significant proportion of a site’s intended user base.

9. There is no ‘Plan B’. When a new site goes live, there should always be a ‘failover’ scenario – a strategy that can be put in place if the back end of the site unexpectedly goes down. The main things to consider will be how the front end can temporarily function without the back and how the problem can be fixed. Otherwise meltdown may be risked.

10. Content isn’t future-proofed. Even more frequently than operating systems and browser versions, the content on your site is going to be updated, particularly if it’s an ecommerce site and there are new products to display. Updating content therefore needs to be easy for whoever’s going to do it, and you also need to consider how new content will be displayed to users. A site may have some killer new products to sell but if users can’t seem them, the only thing that will be killed are conversion rates.