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Web Site Design – Top 10 Mistakes

There are 1000s of ineffective websites on the Net because mistakes were made in the original design. You may have paid a lot of money to get a beautiful design but if it's not serving its purpose (ie making money, attracting visitors) it will be rendered useless.

Top 10 mistakes in web site design

1. Unclear purpose

You may have been pressured to build a website for your business but failed to clearly define its purpose. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to clarify your website's purpose:

  • Do I want to generate leads?
  • Do I want to display or sell products and services?
  • Do I want to interact with my visitors?
  • Do I want to build a relationship with my website customers?
  • Do I want to offer tips, articles, coupons, etc on my website?

2. No long term plan

You may have heard the saying "if you fail to plan your plan will fail." Your purpose integrates with your plan. For example if you want to generate leads, determine how many new leads you want each month, how you will acquire and build a relationship with them. You'll also need to create a marketing plan.

3. Unclear navigation

Visitors need to easily access all parts of your website from the HOME page. If not they will click away to your competitors. Avoid using images, flash or javascript if possible. Search engines can not index these files. Use CSS navigation instead. It contains clean code, loads fast and can be spidered by the search engines.

4. Cluttered pages

Web pages filled with images, videos, flash objects and text makes it difficult for visitors to read the page or understand what is most important. Web pages should contain plenty of white space between all objects and be clear what you're offering. The images should enhance the value of the content. Separate your content into short paragraphs. Use numbers or bullets to clearly define your ideas.

5. Inconsistent appearance

All web pages should have a consistent appearance so the visitor is not distracted from the purpose of the website or thinks he or she is on a different one. All the website components (ie images, text, navigation) should be in harmony with each other.

6. Poorly written web copy

Visitors arrive at your website to read what you have to offer. For example your HOME page should clearly state the purpose of your website. If you sell products write good descriptions about them. If you sell a service try to pre-sell the visitor on your website by talking about the benefits of your services.

7. Not optimized for the search engines

Most site owners want to generate traffic to their websites. One of the main strategies for achieving this is to optimize the web pages before the site is active. People find your website by entering keywords in the search engines. These keywords should be included in the content, meta tags, links, heading and subheadings of your web pages. Do your keyword research first so you can incorporate them into the design before the site goes live.

8. Slow loading pages

Typical visitors will only wait 3 seconds for your website to load. Many site owners want to fill their pages with lots of images, videos, flash objects and javascript. This may dramatically slow loading times and cause you to lose visitors. Reduce the amount of content on your web pages if your site has slow loading times.

9. Too much scrolling

Avoid horizontal or long vertical scrolling. Horizontal scrolling shows the site was not professionally created. Most visitors do not want to scroll down 10 pages to view information. Instead use links to direct them to another page. This helps break up the content and makes it easier to read.

10. Code errors, broken links and browser incompatibility

Errors in HTML, xhtml, php, javascript can influence the appearance, usability, loading and indexing of your website by the search engines. Make sure the code correctly validates before uploading it to the server.

Broken links prevent visitors from correctly navigating your website. Search engines will not be able to find your content. A large site contains lots of images and links. It will be easy to miss some of them. Run the website through a link checker and repair them before it goes public.

Your website may look fine in your own browser (ie Internet Explorer) but look terrible in browsers (ie FireFox, Safari, Google Chrome) your visitors are using. Check if your website renders well in all major browsers before it goes live.

If you want to build a successful long term business online you need to have a professional website designed that does not contain any of these top 10 mistakes. Use this list when hiring a web designer to help you make an informed decision before spending your hard earned money.