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Does Your Website Make these 7 Mistakes?

ZekeLLZekeLL subscriber Posts: 22 Bronze Level Member
edited October 2008 in Marketing

Does Your Website Make
these 7 Mistakes?

In the last six years I have analyzed over 500 websites. It
is incredible how the exact same mistakes keep appearing time and time again.
The main reason for this problem is that a great percentage
of web designers forget that a website is a way of communicating and growing a
business. They feel they need to shock their clients with animations and cool
Don’t get me wrong. Clean and professional graphics are a
very important component of a successful website. But they are not everything.
I’ve put together a list of the seven most common mistakes
that website designers make and how you can avoid them.

Overlooking the goal
of the websiteEvery website has a goal. You probably sell products online. You probably
offer professional services and want your visitors to fill out a contact form
or find your phone number. You probably sell software and want your visitors to
download a trial version.
No matter what your goal is, you have to make it easy for
your visitors to take the action that you expect them to take. As a rule of
thumb, you need to use contrast to emphasize the element that you want your
visitors to see (add to cart button, download now button, contact us link,
Make it obvious for your visitors and you will convert many
more of them into actual leads or customers.

Not writing excellent

A clean, professional, and easy to navigate design is very important. But it
is not enough.
When people visit your website you have less than 30 seconds
to give them a good reason to stay or they will leave. You have to be able to
communicate why your business is better than the competition and why should
your prospects give their business to you and not to someone else.
You know your industry better than anybody else. Think about
the major motivation that moves people into buying the product you sell. Is it
product quality, price, reliability, duration, company’s reputation? Find out
what prospects are looking for and give it to them.

Having too much clutter

This one drives me nuts. It seems like some website designers try to put as
much stuff as they can fit on a page. There are two main problems with that. It
makes everything hard to read and it is difficult for the important elements to
stand out.
When it comes to website design, less is more. Use blank
spaces. It makes the text easier to read and the information easier to find.
Don’t clutter your pages. Please don’t.

Not understanding the
basic design principles

These are the four most important design principles.

Alignment: every element has to be aligned with other
elements. Don’t just place elements randomly on your websites.

Repetition: use the same fonts, colors, and elements across
your website. If you use red Times New Roman text for your headline on your
About Us page, don’t use a different color or type on the Contact Us page. (And
please never use Times New Roman for a headline!)

Contrast: I’ve seen so much black text on dark blue
background that it has made me sick. Make the text contrast with the background
and the most important element of the page stand out.

Proximity: put together similar elements. Let’s say
you have 6 sections on your website: cars, trucks, RVs, Home, Contact Us, and About
Us. You don’t want to put cars between About Us and Contact Us. You want to
group cars, trucks, and RVs. Maybe even put them under a new menu item called
Our Products.

Not making the
website intuitive

How many times have you been browsing a website looking for something and
couldn’t find it even though you knew it had to be there somewhere?
You have to make things easy to find. If most of the people
who go to your website contact you by phone, put your phone number right in
front of them, big and above the fold.

Not testing the
website on different browsers

If you are not a web designer, you might not know this, but almost all the
websites look different on different browsers. Maybe your website looks great
on Firefox but not on Internet Explorer. Or maybe most PC browsers display it
well but some Mac browsers show it all broken.
A professional website designer will run a cross-browser
compatibility test to make sure that every visitor can see your website

What is the 7th

There are clearly more than seven mistakes that most website designers
make. I don’t want this to be an article but more like a cool discussion about
common web design mistakes. So what do you guys think? What other mistakes web
designers make frequently?
If you need advice about your new website, please let me
know and I will be happy to help. No commitments, no strings attached. Just
sincere advice from one entrepreneur to another.
Have a great day!

ZekeLL10/15/2008 5:06 PM


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    ZekeLLZekeLL subscriber Posts: 22 Bronze Level Member
    Hi Catherine,
    The structure of the website is good overall. You don`t get lost easily. I think that it could definitely use a makeover to make it look more fresh and professional.
    The color selection could be better I think. Too many cold and dark colors turn the visitors off.
    To make the text easier to read (i.e. About Us section) break it into paragraphs. It looks too overwhelming.
    I don`t think you need a captcha on your Contact Us page. Those are for websites that are spammed all the time and where users create accounts (Hotmail, Gmail, etc.)
    The "home" link is usually at the top of the menu, not at the bottom.
    Your website has more good things than bad things. I think it could really use a complete redesign to look A LOT more professional.
    Let me know if you need any help with it.
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    ZekeLLZekeLL subscriber Posts: 22 Bronze Level Member
    There is no need to Catherine, really. But I do appreciate the gesture a lot.
    Have a nice day!
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    RockyMooreRockyMoore subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi Catherine, I was looking over you site also while I was here today.  Here are few things that came to mind when I visited there:
    One the first hit of the page, it took a while for somethign to show-up in the center of the page.  I figure this is the loading of the images, but it might be nice to have a good image show there while the others are loading instead of hanging there waiting.  When it is finished loading though and is buffered in the browser cache, it looks really good. 
    The nagivation links on the left look a little absent of design, perhaps image rollovers or something like that would add more bang to the page.  Still quite usable though.
    On the "Designs" page though, navigation is not quite so obvious.  Since it does not have the same template that your other pages employed (the background, side navigation, etc), the visitor is instantly sent scrabbling to see how to navigate the page.  The first time I hit the back I quickly hit the back page without noticing the paying attention to the graphics along the bottom, I just saw the "top 10" image and my brain said that was all and moved on without further thought.
    I do not know if you have access to a developer that is able to handle Microsoft`s new technology called Silverlight, the images you are showing could be very creatively handled in a new featured call "Deep Zoom" that shows a zoomed out page of graphics which you can soom into and get further details.  For an example, you can see the Hard Rock Cafe page:


    You can zoom in and keep zooming to see all the detail of any of the images, and it all works with your mouse scroll wheel.
    While not everyone has this new ability in their browser, millions do and more will in the future.  It would be great if the page could detect and offer up a vanilla viewer or a Silverlight DeepZoom view depending if they have installed the extention or not.  All future versions of Windows will have Silverlight built in.
    On the about page, linefeeds between paragraphs would help greatly along with maybe some subheadings on the page to break up the blocks.
    On the "ask" page, I would keep captcha to filter out bots, although I would reduce the number of letters to three or four.  If you do not have protection on the form and a bot hits you, they can flood your with tens of thousands of posts in minutes.  My blogs use to get hit by them and it took a lot of work keeping them out.  However, even with it, you still stand a chance of an automated system hitting you, getting past the protection but the chances are slim.

    The actual code of the site appears to be using much older design styles such as table layouts for the design which is considered a no-no by much of the web development world today.  It also has a lot of style information in the HTML tags which are better served in what is known as an external cascading style sheet file.  This makes for more flexiblity in the design, a lighter load going over the wire and more search ending friendly. All these things and a few others cause your page to come up in the browser in what is known as "quirks mode" which is not reliable cross the different browsers.  For your site though as it currently is, I do not know if there is much of a difference in appearance. 
    That all said though, it still seems to show well in Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox (although again in Quirks Mode) which some of the more modern sites seem to have issue with.
    Overall though, I would give your site a 8 out of 10 for layout (big point loss on the "designs" page, could have been a 9.5 which a better follow through on that page) and a 4 out of 10 for the code design.
    Also, those photos are great!  Well done job by your photographers!
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    LauriesCobaltWorldLauriesCobaltWorld subscriber Posts: 0
    Great question.  I use http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/  I don`t know what the latest stats are, but the last time I checked, dial-up was used by the majority of computer users.  If you live in a city, you may take availability for granted.  We live way out in the country and just recently (when I went into business) got high speed through satelite.  We moved here several years ago from Atlanta and that was part of our culture shock.  We don`t have cable either!
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    ZekeLLZekeLL subscriber Posts: 22 Bronze Level Member
    You can also check your website stats and see what percentage of your visitors have dial up. In my experience, it is always less than 5%.
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    LauriesCobaltWorldLauriesCobaltWorld subscriber Posts: 0
    Remember that very slow sites aren`t going to gain a dial-up following.  Plus your subject matter is going to make a huge determination.  If your site is for city dwellers, you may have no problem.  Or, if you site is one that folks are mainly going to access from work, again, maybe you have no problem.
    According to a Pew study, 55% of Americans have broadband available at home.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25500947/ And there`s a percentage of those who choose not to go with broadband because of price or other considerations even when it is available. 
    I personally cannot afford to shut out any percentage of potential clients.
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    RockyMooreRockyMoore subscriber Posts: 0

    ..According to a Pew study, 55% of Americans have broadband available at home. ..   The number appears to be much larger than there report.  It may have been that they are counting all homes, not those with an internet service.  This report has a much higher number of "active" internet users: http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/0807/ I would think that most persons using dialup (while sometimes about the only option in a few remote areas) would tend to not be a serious internet user and more than less likely to be value to a site anyway.  While some will break out of that rule, having a limited site just to allow a few people access is probably not worth the it in the end of the day. But that is just how I view it on my sites.  They number of dialup people are small and most of my traffic comes from search engines so the visitors have no clue if the sites are fast or not before they get there.  
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    vmceadylindseyvmceadylindsey subscriber Posts: 0
    Zeke, could you check out my website and let me know what you think? I am planning to add: 10 Reasons To Use CELEBRATIONS! By Vivian For Your Wedding Planning Needs, some photographs of weddings and parties I`ve now done, a page to contact me by email, so that they can write a message to me and email it to me right then and there, some references and possibly some animation.
    My website address is www.celebrationsbyvivian.com.
    Yours Truly,
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    ZekeLLZekeLL subscriber Posts: 22 Bronze Level Member
    1- Get rid of AdSense. It makes your website look very unprofessional.
    2- Use the home page to explain what you do and why you prospects should do business with you.
    The layout is nice and clean. The design could be more professional but it isn`t bad.
    Hope it helps!
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    LauriesCobaltWorldLauriesCobaltWorld subscriber Posts: 0
    "Serious internet user" is an important consideration.  If you are "selling" website advice, you can forget them.  My average buyer is a woman in her 50`s who wants a piece of cobalt glass for her curio.  She may only log in when she wants to do something, whereas I live on the computer.  She may be like my mother who needs to get on the internet to get her Ladies` Circle information and prayer chain info.  She may hate the idea of shopping online (getting help from children or grandchildren when needed ), but wants things not available locally.  She is not going to pay more than $9.99 for internet access - forget the $400 set up for HugesNet (we`re in a high lightening area, so it costs more for us for a separate pole and upgraded grounding).  But she`s a potential customer of mine.
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    ZekeLLZekeLL subscriber Posts: 22 Bronze Level Member

    "1- Get rid of AdSense. It makes your website look very unprofessional" I guess I`m not sure I understand.  AdSense is in the code, it cant be seen on the site - am I wrong? Thanks for the suggestions! Once I get some professional money, I can hire someone to improve the look.    

    That wasn`t for you!
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    RemipubRemipub subscriber Posts: 3
    "Serious internet user" is an important consideration.  If you are "selling" website advice, you can forget them.  My average buyer is a woman in her 50`s who wants a piece of cobalt glass for her curio.
    I understand that you don`t want to disenfranchise ANY potential customers, but it seems like there may be more effective ways of reaching your target market than the web.  A website is a great tool, but it`s not the end all marketing piece.  Part of the marketing process is to identify your target market (which you`ve done) and create a plan to most effectively reach them.  Usually an effective marketing plan uses multiple mediums for reaching prospects, and by all means I think a website should be one of them, but some target audiences are better reached through other methods.  Your service seems to fit that criteria.
    It seems in the world of high technology, you almost can`t avoid a memory intensive website if you want it to have any impact at all.  If it`s only a resource for information, then plain text is fine.  Otherwise I would think a "slow loading on dial up" page is inevitable.  (IMHO)
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    LauriesCobaltWorldLauriesCobaltWorld subscriber Posts: 0
    I personally think that one can have a well-optimized page that has what you want and still comes up in a very reasonable time for dial-up users.  I think you can have the best of both worlds unless you are in a field that truly, truly requires the latest and greatest of what the internet can do.
    I routinely optimize a 100kb image to about 10kb.  There`s no appreciable difference to the naked eye.  So why wouldn`t I do that?  There are many sites that could do a lot with their files and code that would make their pages load faster with no perceived difference to the end user, but they don`t do it.  It seems silly to me to cut out any potential customers.
    And as for folks not knowing from the search engine whether it`s fast or slow.  They figure it out when they get there and don`t stay.  You think you`ve had a visitor, but in reality, they never even got to see your entire page come up.
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    LauriesCobaltWorldLauriesCobaltWorld subscriber Posts: 0
    I`d love to know what other marketing methods you would suggest. 
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    RemipubRemipub subscriber Posts: 3
    I completely agree that many websites could load much faster with some image optimization.   I also tend to think elaborate animations (ie Flash intros) can cause more harm than good since they take so long to load.  Speaking personally, when I go to a website, I`m doing so to seek information and I don`t want to wait several seconds for the page to load with something that may look cool, but really has no function in presenting the information I seek.  That being said, many of the websites have need to display lots of pictures/graphics and optimized or not, it will take time for them to load.  I haven`t used dial up in years, but I can only imagine how frustrated I`d be trying to access these sites.  How long does it take to search E-bay on dial up?  I have no clue, but I bet it`s not lightning fast.
    As for other non internet marketing tactics...  What are the buying habits of your target market?  Where do they shop?  What do they buy (other than your products)?  How do they spend their free time?  For example, if there are publications that they read, consider placing an ad.  If they belong to certain types of hobby clubs, maybe that club produces a newsletter and you can be included.  Direct mail is hugely popular when attempting to reach a highly targeted market (letters, postcards, etc.).  If the cost is too high for a mailing, talk to other businesses that market to the same audience and look into doing a co-op mailing with them.  The trick is to find out where your target market is looking, and get your message in front of them.  (I know, sometimes easier said than done).  It can take persistence and patience - but that`s what makes running a business so much fun, right? 
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