Fatal Web Site Design Mistakes

The main purpose of any business website should be to market that business.  Your site needs to be user-friendly and give helpful, useful information.  However, many times websites are designed to show off the designer’s talents, with no thought to site visitors or making the sale. 

First Mistake: Trying to "dazzle" visitors instead of selling to them. This does not mean the site should be boring, but don’t use a lot of flashy graphics and animated effects.  These effects will take the attention away from your product or service.  Don’t use a Flash presentation or splash page to "welcome" them to your site.  Most visitors will spend less than 10 seconds deciding if they should read more or move on.  If they spend that time watching your logo changing colors then they will never see what you have to offer them. 

Second Mistake: Too much information and not enough organization.  People should be able to get to your main information in one click, and nothing should be more than three clicks from the home page.  If you have a site, print out all the pages.  Can any of it be combined or rewritten to take up less space?  If you have newsletters or white papers on your site, have them all link from one page. If you’re selling just a few products (5 or less), include them on your homepage. If you are selling several products, put the categories on the home page or select a few products each month to "feature".  

Third Mistake: Confusing navigation.  Don’t hide your links or call them something clever.  If a link takes you to the products page, call the link "products".  Navigation should be either at the top or on the left hand side of the page and be the same on every page. Don’t rearrange the links on different pages.  This will just confuse your visitor.  Limit the link options to 10 when possible and don’t hide links within graphics or pictures.  The Internet standard for text links is blue and underlined.  Don’t change that.  People know those are links and will be drawn to them.  

Test Your Site: Have someone who has never been to your site try and place an order or find information about your company.  Were they able to do so quickly and easily?  If not, why?  Now that you know what the problem is, correct it and see if your visitors don’t enjoy themselves more and make purchases.

July 1, 2005

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