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Don’t Lose Sales Because of Poor Design

With the vast amount of tools available today, many business owners are saving money by designing their own web site. Be warned – just because you have the ability to buy FrontPage doesn’t mean your website will look professional.

Here are ten of the most common mistakes webmasters make with their websites.

    1. Cluttered Home Page
      You have probably seen these sites – there is so much information on the page it makes it impossible to know where to start first. Simplify the process and have a clear plan on where you want your visitor to go and make it easy for them. Start with eliminating as many icons and buttons as possible. Keep it simple for your visitors and they will not only stick around, but they will come back.
    2. Animation
      This was in about 5 years ago – it is now considered annoying. If you must use animation, the maximum it should loop is three times. You want to use animation to draw attention, but you do not want to annoy the visitor.
    3. Unreadable Backgrounds
      You’ve been there, the website that looks good until the background image loads and now you cannot read the text. The beach, the sky, your dog – I am sure they are all very important to you, just do not use them as your background.
    4. Inconsistent Text
      Yes you can have different fonts besides Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman, but do not go overboard. Stick to one font for your text. Fonts like Arial or Verdada are easier to read on-screen than Times New Roman. Also remember that if you use a certain font for your text, your visitor must have that font loaded on their system in order to view it properly. You can create graphics with different fonts, but remember, graphics slow down the download time of your page.
    5. Under Construction
      Few Web sites are a finished product. Most are continually being updated with new information. In a sense, every website is always “under construction.” However, that message should never appear on your home page because you’re essentially telling visitors that your site is not ready for them to view yet. Did you know that Yahoo! will automatically reject your site if you have ANY page that states it is under construction?
    6. This Site Best Viewed With&ldots;
      Few statements on a Web page annoy visitors as much as this one. Have you ever downloaded a new browser (or browser version) just to look at a single Web site? No? We thought so. Unless you are absolutely certain that visitors will use a particular browser (on a company Intranet, for example), you site should be optimized to display effectively across major browsers.
    7. Background Music
      Background music on a page adds no content but increases the annoyance factor and the page download time. It is ok to include music clips on your site, but give your visitors the option to listen instead of assaulting them with your choice of music. Since most people surf the Internet at work, or have music already playing on their computer, adding to that really detracts from their experience.
    8. Non-sizable Tables
      Most websites are constructed with tables. A lot of webmasters will design their site around a certain resolution – 800×600, which is one of the more popular resolutions. But the problem is, if someone has a 21″ monitor and a resolution of 1024×768, they will only see the site appear on the left side of their browser window, while viewing a lot of dead white space on the right. How do you solve this problem? Simple. Use percentages on your tables, instead of static values. This will allow the website to expand and contract based on the user’s monitor size, resolution and how large their browser window is.
    9. Color Combinations
      The Web Palette consists of the 216 colors that both Macintosh and Windows systems display accurately. A lot of graphics are “too large” meaning they have “unused” colors in them which cause the graphics to be larger (in file size) than they need to be. By taking out these unused colors, it will make your graphics load faster. Sometimes by as much as 30%.
    10. Overall Consistency
      Do not change the layout and design of your site from page to page on your site. Instead, keep the look and feel consistent throughout. Keep the color scheme, sight lines, navigation buttons and text links in the same places from page to page. This will give the visitor a better experience as they will come to expect certain aspects of the site appearing in the same places each time.

These ten “traps” are not the only “traps” which can cause your visitors to leave your site. Remember to consult your web logs on a regular basis and check the “top exit pages”.

Try to understand why people are leaving your site before placing an order. Make changes and modifications to those pages to make them more appealing.

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This Web Marketing article was written by on 3/21/2005

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