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Warning: Don't Lose Sales Because Your Web Design Sucks

Did you try and save a few bucks and design your own site? Or worse, have your out of work brother in-law design it? Don't do that. Your business reputation will suffer. You see, just because you can afford to buy the tools, doesn't mean the experience in how to use them also comes in the box.

Here are ten of the most common mistakes webmasters and business owners 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. Simply put, 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 just might come back, which is a very good thing.
  2. Animation
    This was cool in the 90s - it is now considered annoying for well over a decade. If you must use animation, you should just go back to your day job, the web isn't for you.
  3. Unreadable Backgrounds
    You've been there, the website that looks good until the background image loads and now you cannot read the text. This is true even with some of the expensive WordPress themes. 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 can slow down the download time of your page. It is always recommended to use CSS when you can to cut down on the amount of code needed to format your web pages.
  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 (or any 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? So, don't do it.
  6. This Site Best Viewed With.
    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), your site should be optimized to display effectively across both Internet Explorer and Firefox.
  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 - 1024x768, which is one of the more popular resolutions. But the problem is, if someone has a different resolution set on their computer, they may only see a portion of the site or the site may not display properly. 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", make adjustments and continually test to find the optimum look and feel.

By understanding why people are leaving your site before buying, you can make changes and modifications to those pages to make them more appealing.

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