12 Common Web Design Mistakes that Drive Customers Away

Your Web site can draw customers in or send them running. Find out what mistakes to avoid in your company’s Web site design.

“Cheaper by the dozen” might be a good sales pitch but it certainly is not a good web site strategy.

In the early to mid 1990s, commercial web sites weren’t very common and just about every “live” site was considered acceptable. With tens of millions of sites online now, users will not tolerate unprofessional and disorganized sites that don’t provide the information or solutions they are looking for and expect.

Web design mistakes can have a tremendous negative impact on business growth. At best, they upset your prospects. Worse, though, is you lose them forever.

Here are 12 common web design mistakes you must avoid to please your visitors and grow your business:

1. Lack of Focus
Too many web sites leave visitors wondering what the site is about. Be sure your home page explicitly conveys what you do and the value you offer, and entices them to explore other pages for additional information.

2. Text-heavy Pages
Actually, lots of text is OK, just don’t use lengthy paragraphs with no visual breaks. Reading online is much different than print. Use the following to break-up blocks of text: shorter, more focused paragraphs; headlines and subheads; bullets and numbers; a few well-placed photos or graphics; and appropriate white space.

3. Legibility Issues
Dark fonts on dark backgrounds, light fonts on light backgrounds, and tiny fonts that strain the eye are obviously poor choices. Use common sense.

4. “Noise” and Clutter
Even if you have a great site, if your visitors are forced to wade through long blocks of copy, promotional offers, animation, sales pitches, and worthless dribble, you’ll quickly confuse them and drive them away.

5. Blatant Advertising
While we all hope to use our web site to move prospects along in the sales process, in-your-face advertising isn’t the answer. Information, solutions and value will do the job more effectively. And while pop-up ads are widely used and acceptable, full screen pop-ups that are difficult to close infuriate everyone.

6. Navigation Issues
A clearly obvious navigational panel makes sense doesn’t it? But common sense isn’t always common practice. How easily can a newcomer navigate your site?

7. Inappropriate Graphics and Photos
Photos and graphics can visually enhance the appearance of your site as well as support and substantiate your copy. But don’t use load-intensive graphics or photos of your corporate office which are relevant to no one.

8. Outdated Information
Nothing screams “unprofessional” any louder than outdated information.

9. Too Many Clicks Needed
We’re all impatient and in a hurry. Our online waiting threshold is much less than off-line. If more than a few clicks are required to get to a page, you’ll lose a prospect every time.

10. Lack of Contact Information
This also seems obvious, but I have searched numerous web sites for contact phone numbers – and I am amazed how many times I was unable to find one. Just because a web site is online doesn’t mean a prospect only wants to contact you online.

11. Form Frustration
The large majority of online forms are too lengthy. Get rid of questions/fields that simply are not needed. And don’t identify one as mandatory if it really isn’t.

12. No Privacy Policy
In the age of rampant spam, we all want to be certain we are offering our e-mail address to someone who will protect it carefully. If you ask for an e-mail address on one of your forms, let your prospects know that you will not sell or distribute their address to anyone (if that’s true of course).

Your prospects are visiting your web site specifically for the content. But the appearance and usability are also critical factors. If a visit to your web site is a positive experience, you have a much better chance of converting prospects to clients.

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