What makes you want to click out of a website before you read the first sentence? For me, it is cheesy music with no “off” button.
Signs of Webmaster Newbies
You can easily spot a first timer’s website because of the smorgasbord of java-scripts, animations and other copy-and-paste components. The problem is, this makes a site look amateur.
Creating an Amateur Image
You might have a brick and mortar business that’s been around for the last decade, with tons of satisfied customers.On the net, however, your visitors do not know who you are.A professional online image will create trust. When designing your website, here are some things to avoid so that your business does not look amateur or like a fly-by-night operation:
- Dark, heavy backgrounds with hard-to-read fonts – For a business website, it’s best to use a plain white background and black text so that your visitors can read it easily. Some first timers are tempted to have patterned or colorful backgrounds, with different text colors. Not only does it make your text hard to read, but if you are including pictures of products, it is hard to make them blend in with the background.
- Pages that are larger than the browser screen – There’s nothing more irritating that trying to read a web page that scrolls across the screen. Generally, web users use 1024 x 768 as their desktop resolution. Try to remain within those confines.
- Sound effects – Everyone has different tastes when it comes to music, but even if you discovered music that appeals to every single person alive, don’t make it automatically load on your site. With a music site, there are scripts that will allow the user to click “play” at his or her option. This goes with audio advertisements or other background sound effects — provide a way to pause the sound or shut it off.
- “Cool” effects – About 8 or 9 years ago, it was real “cool” to have a flash presentation on the index page. Everyone was doing this. This does not establish your online reputation. Flash introductions take forever to create and many of them are just downright stupid. These intros can take a long time to load and most people will not wait around to view them. Page fading effects, animated images and scrolling text are things that beginners seem to think are cool. When I first started out, I was guilty of adding these things because I thought it made me look like I knew what I was doing. However, the harsh reality is that these effects are a wate of time and a turnoff. I’ve seen some sites, designed by supposed design specialists, where the links scroll by really fast and you have to “aim and shoot” just to be able to click a link. Don’t bother adding these effects. People are visiting your site for information or products, not a bunch of movement that’ll give them a headache.
- No clear navigation scheme – Many people enter a website by the interior pages, not at the home page. You should give your visitors a way to easily click through your site. Menus that are positioned on either the left or the top of the web page are the most popular and will be most familiar for your visitors. The key is that no matter where you place your menu, make sure that it is consistent throughout your site. A missing or confusing navigation menu is a sign of amateur web design.
- No search feature – Particularly if you have a large product line that you are selling or if you have a content rich site, always include a search box to help your visitors. If you do not know how to do this, there are quality free services such as Google search. This makes your site “user friendly” and shows that you care about your visitor’s experience on your site.
- “Secret” prices – If you’re selling products, include the price. Don’t force your potential customer to go through the shopping cart process just to find out the price — many are turned off by this and will not do it in the first place.
- Under construction pages – “Under construction” or “coming soon” pages are a surefire way to announce that you’re an amateur. If you are not done with a page yet, do not link to it. Add a link to your menu or sitemap at such time as the page is completed.
- No online shopping cart – If you are selling a product, provide a way for people to purchase your product online. When people are looking to buy something online, they want to be able to buy it immediately. Chances are, they do not want to send you a fax with their credit card information or mail in a check or money order. If you don’t have a merchant account, take a look at PayPal or, if y ou are selling digital products, consider services like Clickbank.There are free shopping carts available for people who already have a merchant account, such as Mals-e.com, which also gives you the ability to offer an affiliate program.
What’s Your Top Gripe?
Newbie or pro, you can voice your opinion about what makes a stinking website at the NotGuru’s survey about poor website design.If you’re looking for giveaways, software and tips to help your fledgling online business, the Not Guru blog delivers plenty of resources every day. Take the site design survey today and feel free to submit your comments – the results are quite interesting.