Are You Making These Web Site Mistakes? - Part 1
In this 2-part article, we'll take a look at some of the reasons why your web site might not be getting you the results you'd like. This time, we look at common problems associated with the design and usability of a web site.
Mistake 1: Amateur designs
This mistake is commonly seen in DIY web sites. Typical problems include:
- Using too many colours and fonts
- Using tacky clipart or blurry photos
- Typos and spelling mistakes
Your web site is often the first contact a potential client has with you, so you want to make a good impression. Typos, poor quality imagery and busy text will not do your practice any favours.
Mistake 2: Not making the most of links
Without links, the web would not be the success it is today. Links encourage people to explore your site and let them easily jump to other related web sites. Common mistakes include:
- Not using any links in your text. Links encourage people to explore in a natural fashion, and make it easier to find related information. So, instead of writing "contact us for details", it's better to link to your contact page. Similarly, rather than writing "see the articles section", add a link to the article page itself.
- Using "click here" for link text. Descriptive text like "download our price list" is much better - it's easier to scan, and is far better for people using screen readers or other assistive technology.
- Using non-standard colours for links. Back in the old days, links to pages you hadn't visited before used blue underlined text, and links to pages you had seen before used purple underlined text. Nowadays you can set your own link colours and styles, but keeping to the conventions makes your web site easier to use. By the same token, avoid using blue or underlined styles for anything that isn't a link.
Mistake 3: Having a slow web site
While broadband is becoming more and more common, many people in Australia are still on dial-up connections. Even with a fast link, visitors may become impatient if your web site is slower than they expect. Frequent errors include:
- Too many graphics, or using graphics with big file sizes. Overuse of flash, video or audio clips also causes problems.
- Slow web servers. If your website is very slow then an overloaded web server may be the problem. Also, whilst web hosting is often cheaper overseas, it's a good idea to have your server in the same country as your clients to reduce access times.
- Using PDFs or Word documents instead of text within your site. These formats always take longer to download than plain text and need the relevant software to open them. Consequently you should minimise their use on your web site. If you really need to use one of these formats for selected content, PDF is the preferred format.
- Splash screens slow things down whilst adding nothing of value to the visitor. If you have one, get rid of it.
Mistake 4: Making your web site hard to use
If your site is hard to use, your visitors will either get annoyed or give up - neither of which are desirable outcomes. Typical problems include:
- Confusing navigation or site structure. This is probably the most important thing to get right. If your prospective clients can't find what they’re looking for, they will leave.
- Text that's hard to read. Tiny fonts, low contrast text and glaring bright colours that hurt your eyes will all turn people away in droves.
In this article, we've covered common web site mistakes, looking at usability, speed, and design. Eliminate these problems and watch your visitor satisfaction soar!
Stay tuned for part 2, where we look at web site marketing mistakes.
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