4 WAYS TO RUIN A WEBSITE DESIGN
There are dozens of ways business owners inadvertently ruin their own websites during the design process. These businesses are the bane of any web developer’s existence, and for good reason. Professional designers know the right way to put a site together: a way that’s attractive, easy to navigate, and fast loading. Business owners don’t get that. They want something that looks “cool” and trendy. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s never a good idea to put “cool” ahead of functionality. What do I mean?
Here are a few ways businesses everywhere are ruining their websites before they even launch.
#1. They want sites with Flash (and other slow loading graphics, software, or visuals).
There’s nothing wrong with a nice presentation, but save it for YouTube. Nobody who finds your site is going to enjoy sitting through a long video montage of your company’s awesomeness, or, if you have a Flash site, for each page to load. Keep mind that not every one of your visitors is going to have the latest computer, or even a high speed Internet connection. Even those who do may click away in a matter of seconds if your site is slower to load than most. It seems a little unfair, but even a time lag of less than a second can cost you customers. In fact, one study found that slowing a website down by 2 seconds, resulted in a 2% higher click-away rate. If your site is even slower, you’re looking at even fewer people who will be willing to stick around.
#2. They cram too much information on one page
User friendly navigation is your friend. Statistics say that only 28% of your content will be read by users. That means you better get to the point in a hurry, or risk having visitors click away before they ever know what your site is really all about. Let users know right away what they will find on the remainder of your site, and separate the information into bullet points or subheads. This will help visitors skim the page for the information they need, so they can skip things they aren’t interested in reading.
Navigation is more than just keeping your content simple and easy to read, however. It also means making sure users know how to get from one page to another, and how to find exactly what they’re looking for. If you sell family clothing, then it should be apparent where to find kids’ clothes and in various sizes. This can be done through breaking things up into categories, and then into subcategories. You can also add a search box so they can look for exactly what they’re searching for.
It’s also important that you keep contact information where it can be found easily. If someone has a question and can’t figure out how to get in touch with you, there’s a good chance he’ll just find another company who is more easily accessible. If possible, include both a phone number and email address, since different people prefer to contact businesses in different ways. Some hate speaking on the phone, but others enjoy the personal interaction hearing an actual human voice provides. Display your physical address also, since this gives any business a little more credibility.
#3 They only care about search engines
If you’ve heard that keywords are important, you’re not alone in your thinking. There are thousands of sites on the Internet that exist purely to impress the search engines. Keyword stuffed articles abound, and web pages are so jumbled and thrown together, it’s obvious the writer wasn’t writing for actual people. The problem with this method is that it doesn’t work, and it will also kill your business’s credibility with any unwitting soul who happens to find it.
What is keyword stuffing? It’s using a specific keyword, or multiple keywords, more times than is necessary or acceptable. There is no hard and fast rule for how many times a keyword can be used without it being “stuffed,” but many experts say that anything over 4% density is too much. Even more experts say that anything over 2% is pushing it. With Google’s new updates, I say keywords should be included wherever they flow naturally, in the title or heading, and one in the first paragraph. If someone reading your work can tell you forced the keywords in there, you’re using them too much.
Why is this bad? For one, if visitors to your site find that your content is so full of keywords it reads awkwardly, they’ll assume you’re an idiot. The thing many business owners forget is that when someone comes across your site, they aren’t assuming that a writer handled your content. They aren’t knowledgeable in search engines. They just see bad writing, and they think it’s your fault. This isn’t a great way to instill confidence. Another issue is that Google frowns upon keyword stuffing, and your site may actually have lowered rankings rather than higher ones if you’re not careful.
#4 They design for themselves
In nearly all areas of marketing, businesses are guilty of assuming that customers care about them and their goals. This is just plain wrong thinking. Customers care about themselves and how you can fix their problems or make their lives better. Design your site for them, not for yourself.
How does one design for herself? She writes self-indulgent web copy that doesn’t address the customers at all. She includes weird colors because she thinks they’re “pretty” without realizing that hot pink may make things harder to read for visitors. She includes too much information crammed onto one page to avoid having to pay more for additional pages. There are a number of ways site owners make their online presences obnoxious for users, and if you’re not careful, you may fall into the same trap.
How can you avoid being a self-centered site owner? Think of your customers or readers with every decision you make. What design schemes would make it easier for them to read or access? What do they want to read? If your target audience isn’t exactly web savvy, how can your site be made simple to use, even for an online newbie? These are the aspects of site design you should consider, whether you use this information to aid a professional designer, or whether you’ll be developing the site yourself.