Simply putting a web site on the Internet does not guarantee its success. The harsh reality is that your visitors do form an immediate opinion of your business when they see your website. This first impression can be the difference between gaining or losing a customer!
Established web standards do help somewhat but the bottom line is that web sites both fail and succeed. Here are some of the biggest reasons why your website design fails to make profits for you.
Almost any use of Flash will look cool and bring added value to your visual perception, that’s one thing for true. But unfortunately, your visitors actually don’t like to have to wait for your Flash animations. But websites that rely heavily on Flash to display important content have several other failures.
Many mobile devices can’t display Flash, the iPad and iPhone can’t display Flash at all – a huge problem given how many people use them. But a more bigger problem is that Flash isn’t easily indexed by the search engines. Although Google says it can read text embedded within Flash files, but regular HTML text is far easier for them (and the other search engines) to crawl.
Reduce the use of Flash, unless it’s needed to explain something or to make that (better) first impression. If I use Flash I use it on a HTML-platform, so I code them as an object and insert them into my HTML-code. Don’t make your Flash too big in size (loads of actionscripts and images), don’t add music or what-so-ever.
(Too much) Advertisements
Ever seen a site loaded with banner advertisement & Google Adsense? Normally that’s a sign for me to click on the ‘back’-button, the real intentions why the blog or website is made just came clear to me. Good websites always place advertisement in a proper place which isn’t bothering the main content of websites.
Never prioritize advertisement over content.
Bad or vague Navigation
Want to learn a little more about good navigation, be sure to check out a previous post: Good Website Navigation
Tip: Always put a
<a href> to your (company)logo to link back to the indexpage or homepage, this will guarantee your readers to find their way back to your homepage.
Eeehr .. I think I’m lost?
At any particular time, visitors should be able to figure out their whereabouts. Meaning when visitors are browsing deep into your site, you really need to make sure your readers know which part of the site they are in at that specific moment. That way, they will be able to browse relevant information or navigate to any section of the site easily.
Tip: A site map or a breadcrumb menu should be featured on the page to let them keep track of their pathway if you have a huge navigation with secondary or even tertiary navigations. Always give the visited pagelink some visual feedback in your navigation, you can do this by giving that specific link another
Lengthy Articles or Pages
I don’t know about you, but most of us (normal internet users) don’t like too long articles. Use at most 1500 – 1700 words when writing an article, add some images or graphics and a design readible text-layout to make it more attractive than just a plain text. Make your words simple and understandable.
Tip: Count the words of your article and don’t make it too long: It takes more time to write and is very boring to read for your visitors.
Readability and Legibility
Remember to separate some sentences with a paragraph and choose a readible line-height, leave plenty of “white space”. Imagine that you are reading more than 600 words article without any paragraph on it. It’s confusing right? With short paragraphs and good headings, people will find it easier to read your article.
Make your body text at least 12pt to make sure that your body text are readable enough. Although most modern web browser can zoom in, keep your body-text on a fixed minimum of 12px.
Tip: Leave plenty of “white space”.
Text Only, No Images
Text-only versions of websites can remove some accessibility problems, but most certainly will create new accessibility problems and it will destroy other accessibility benefits.
And lets be honest, people will be bored if they see only text. If you don’t have an idea about what image you should add, just use any image related with your post title. Don’t leave your body text alone without any images, you’ll drive your readers mad.
Tip: If you want to add images to your website, use unique photo’s. Don’t use the standard, boring free stock-photo’s everybody else is using too. It’s common and nonexclusive, in most cases anyone is able to download or buy the same photo, which can lead to duplicates of the same picture on different sites.
Bad color-use, too much bling-bling
If your site has more than 3 colors for your content, animated GIF images, scrolling marquees or blinking text … your website really does sucks, .. sorry for my little rant here! Your visitors will be so overwhelmed by color and animation that they don’t know where to look. If they can’t find the information they’re looking for, they’ll search for the ‘back’-button again.
Tip: Content is King. Your design should let the message stand out, not your (so-called) designing skills!
Check your website in all major browsers, especially in the ‘Big Five’ (IE, Chrome, FF, Safari and Opera) before you publish it. Browsers understand in different ways html/css code. A short time ago I visited a website and I couldn’t read a single word with firefox and in IE there was no problem. You really want your site to have the same look in every browser, .. So, you’ve got a Apple iMac, congrats, but don’t only design for Safari! You would forget 90-95% of all readers on the internet!
Audio & Video
If you want your visitors to stay a long time at your site, absorbing your content, you will want to make sure they’re not annoyed by some audio or video auto-starting when they visit your site. Visitors will get really pissed off and will never visit your website again, believe me.
But if you really need to add audio or video, make sure your visitors have some control over it — volume or muting controls is a good start or hire a nice model to represent your company in the video presentation.
Tip: Don’t auto-start your Audio and Video, always let your visitor decide if he/she wants background music or a video-presentation.
There are more things though that could damage your website, just think about a badly coded website with loads of bad code, validation-errors, using frames or framesets, bad or no keyword research, your website can’t be found in the search engines, etc.
Your website is your window to the world. Care for it. Make it beautiful, clean, functional, and clear. You only get one chance to impress!
If you think I have missed an essentual point why a website could fail, please let me know by placing a comment in our comment-section ..