10 WORST things you can do on your business website
Avoid making these mistakes so you don't lose visitors to your website
I am a Freelance Web Designer and created this lens to help people avoid the mistakes many make on their business websites.
If your site is selling a product or service then you want to make sure your site is user friendly. The last thing you want to do is irritate people who are interested in what you have to sell.
The 10 worst things you can do on your website
1. Flash intro with no skip
In most cases Flash intros should be avoided, you are adding one extra step for people to get to the information in your website. If you have a Flash intro make sure to have a skip intro button. Not only will it prevent people hitting the back button you won't force your visitors to sit through your intro every time they revisit your site.
2. Opening your entire site in a small pop up window, especially one you can't resize
Even worse than a website in a small pop up window you can't resize is when you click on a link in the site that opens a new pop up window, and that pop up window leads to another pop up window. This makes your website hard to navigate and see what is going on. It's like looking at your website through a peep hole.
3. Resizing the window
I will never revisit a website that re-sizes my window. Not only is it annoying it can also be buggy, I find that randomly other sites will resize to the window of the offender site.
Let the user decide if they want to resize their window and take the time to design a site that will accommodate different resolutions and screen sizes.
4. Take over ads and pop up windows covering content
We have all seen these sites; when you click to enter you are immediately faced with a pop up window preventing your entry with "sign up for my newsletter" "buy my book" "take this survey". Not only is this too pushy, it can make visitors think there is spy ware or a virus on your site.
*If you use a pop up window to prevent people from leaving your site, I can guarantee you the majority of people will never ever come back!
The other offender in this category is take over ads. Ads that suddenly cover up the content you are in the middle of reading or zoom in from no where causing you to lose your place and break your concentration. In your face marketing ploys can give people a bad impression of you and your business.
5. High contrast colours, blinking, shaking, spastic text or ads
An electric blue background with bright rainbow coloured text is extremely hard to read and can give people a headache. Make sure your text and background images are easy on the eyes. Avoid text that blinks, or scrolls across the page, it is distracting and annoying.
Think carefully about the affiliate ads displayed on your website, ads that shake and blink rapidly will take away from from the content of your site. It's hard to concentrate with that in your face.
6. Horizontal Scroll or really long pages without a back to top
It's hard to read text and navigate a page that scrolls to the right as most find it more comfortable to read top to bottom. Sometimes this can work however most of the time this is a no no and should be avoided.
If you have a lot of content on a page that requires scrolling down, make sure to add a back to top button or some other way to allow users to get back to the top.
7. Forcing the user to figure out where they are supposed to click
The navigation for your website should be clearly labeled and easy to find. Having a bunch of mysterious dots or images on a page where users have to either click on or hover over to see what is there is bad navigation.
This can work for websites that are playground sites, band websites or personal sites that are meant to be this way for artistic purposes. However for business websites, especially those that are ecommerce sites this can be disastrous. If it is difficult for someone to find what they are looking for, they will give up and leave.
8. Slow loading pages
In Photoshop make 'save for web' your friend. This reduces the resolution size of images for quicker loading times. If the content of your site is bloated with over sized images that take forever to load, most users will just give up and leave. The same goes for Flash websites, few will have the patience to wait for the loading meter to slowly inch it's way to 100%.
9. Loud music, talking or other sounds without a stop button
I, like many others have my own music playing while surfing the web and can't stand it when I get to a site that has blaring music, an annoying midi or someone talking saying "my name is Jane Smith and I am hear to tell you about blah blah blah".
In addition many may be surfing the web from their office and will have to quickly leave your site to stop the noise. Make sure you have a stop button for all sounds CLEARLY labeled and easy to find in a hurry. Music and sounds when used properly can add to the experience of your website however always consider the user and where they might be when they click on your website.
10. Forcing people to fill out too much information, especially personal information in forms
Most people myself included don't like giving out personal information to anyone on the internet. Unless there is a transaction of money involved, there is NO reason why you need to know their address, phone number, date of birth, last name and other personal information.
Think carefully about what fields need to be mandatory in your forms. If you want to know more personal info for marketing reasons then you can ask for it but DO NOT make it mandatory. If you do, expect to get lot's of fake phone numbers and addresses.
Another thing you should never make mandatory is tell a friend. Let the user decide if they want to pass your site along to someone they know. Tell a friend is a great marketing tool however NOT when you force your user to spam their friends.
When creating fields in forms for users to fill out keep it basic. Long, tedious forms make people feel like they are filling out a job application. No one wants to spend 10 minutes filling out a form with unnecessary information.
Here is an example of a website that asks for far too much information, so much that I hit the back button and didn't sign up. It's a good idea they have but the only information they need from me is first name, email and pick a password and that's it. There is no reason for them to know where I live with my postal code and then make it mandatory!
Don't make me think: A must read for anyone with a website
If you have a website this book will help you understand how people read a page and surf the internet. It is an easy read with helpful tips to improve the usability of your website.
Prepare your images for the web
Pictures loading in too slowly? The save for web option in Photoshop allows you to easily reduce the size of your images without losing quality.
Let me know what bothers you when browsing the web. Things that cause you to leave a website in a hurry.