Top 5 Website Design Mistakes

Is your Website design suffering from these classic errors?

The web is maturing quickly, and designs that worked just two or three years ago won't always work today. The reason? A more sophisticated and mobile enabled user.

Styles change all the time. The web is no exception. But it's more than just new trends that are in play here. The users themselves has become more demanding. Certain standards and expectations have emerged since the early days of the "net". Page load times for instance have improved dramatically since the days when most users were on dial up modems. However, along with today's increased speeds come dramatically increased expectations.

Here are five top mistakes companies make today in designing their websites.

1) Difficult navigation. Website navigation should be clear and to the point. Important content should not be buried two or three links deep. The nav bar should be clean and available on every page. No page should be excluded from the hierarchical structure of the site. Every page should be linked from another page that links to the nav bar. When a user is on a page and wants to go to the contact us page, they should be able to get there without having to go back to the home page first.

2) No Flash - No way! There have always been problems with Flash sites. They're not SEO friendly - never have been. They take time to load. Sometimes a lot of time. Even on broadband this can create problems, and users are far more impatient today than ever. We've all seen the little animation as a Flash page loads - and loads - and loads. Your home page should load quickly and get the user right to the point. For this reason the old style splash page is out - wayyyy out. Add to this, the fact that flash won't even work on the majority of mobile devices and you pretty much have a business killer website.

3) Cluttered and muddled content. Throwing a bunch of hodge podge information at your user is a big mistake. Make your thoughts and design clear and to the point. Being obscure isn't artsy. So may times I go to a site because I've clicked on a link on a search engine, only to find a site that describes their product or service in obscure terms. It's like a guessing game. They tell you it's brown, lively, cuddly, and runs like a top without ever telling you it's a dog. It's frustrating for the user and that's probably not a good way to get them to buy. Just because you know what you sell doesn't mean the person visiting does.

4) Buzz words - techno  babble and BS. Trying to appear competent by merely being obscure is a sure sign your a poser. Even if you're not a poser, your user may not be as up on the latest techno-babble as you are. This makes them feel like you're not the solution to their problem, and makes you seem condescending. Now, if you're a scientist writing documents for your peer group fine. But usually the better choice is to present your material in a way that the average person "gets it", with further technical information buried a bit deeper for those that are interested.

5) The user doesn't care about your problem - they care about their problem. Blogging has been a big deal for websites for some time. Every SEO specialist is telling us we must blog or die. This has lead to a glut of useless verbal diarrhea that floods our inboxes and just about every website we go to. Most of this content is poorly written and focuses on the authors needs. In the past week alone I've read several blog posts where the author brags about themselves for the first two or three paragraphs as if they feel the need to establish their credibility before they get to the article itself. It's all me me me me me and I I I I I. You've lost your reader before you left the starting gate.

What's the point of all these articles? Even this one. Think about it. Am I writing this to share some valuable insight in the hope of helping you raise your game? Or, am I just getting a new post out so the search engines will pick up on some keywords and bring users to my site to buy my products? By the way, the latter is not evil. We must sell to survive. But if we made a sale as a result of helping someone solve a problem then we've accomplished two goals. So both reasons are true. Drive traffic to your site for sure, but it's better to do it with genuine, well researched information than just self aggrandizing dribble.

Bonus Point

To graphic or not to graphic. I read so much content these days from web site designers and SEO specialists about how graphics don't help. Search engines don't understand what a graphic or picture is. They can't index it. Sure "alt" text can help, but not as effectively as well written text.

While that's all true, it missing a big point. A picture is worth a thousand words. It cuts both ways. People are not search engines. Graphics make the text more understandable. Pictures deliver a big and important message. So while text delivers better search engine results, graphics provide a richer user engagement and deeper understanding of the material. Both points are important. Simply design your SEO in a way that does not eliminate the understandability of your site.

If this wasn't true, tell me the last time you went to somebodies home and instead of a nice family portrait over the sofa you found a framed paragraph describing the family.

Happy web site building 🙂

Kerry Allan

 

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