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10 Things that should never appear on your website

January 12, 2018
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In our modern-day world, websites function much like the shop-windows of physical stores – what you see determines whether or not you want to enter – or further engage with the business.

The website representing your brand or business now plays a vital part in keeping and converting customers. There are endless tips on what to add to your website and how to design it – but what about the things to avoid? Below is a list, provided by Mad House contributor and business owner Mal Peter, highlighting 10 things that should never appear on your professional website.

 

1. Colours that are too strong on the eyes or confusing

While there are some exceptions to this rule and in some very rare cases where garish, lurid or even obnoxious colours can be effective, exercise caution here. Using blinding colours can go horribly wrong, if not used appropriately. Just like the dining room image above you don’t want people to go, “Wow that’s interesting, but I think I will just head back to the Kitchen”.

Regardless of the overall look you are hoping to create, especially your own personal taste, a well-constructed site should please the eye, feel clear, uncluttered and readable. The ways in which colours are used are vital to a user-friendly approach.

Chances are that even though you may be particularly fond of a vivid purple, yellow and green colour scheme, it’s may look disordered and confused, and might repel rather than attract prospective customers.

Keep your text black or dark grey, and keep the number of colours you use to a minimum – go for no more than two or three. Simplicity is always the best policy.

 

2. Flash

There are many reasons why Flash does not belong on your website. Firstly, Flash has a long history of security flaws, bugs, and malware. These days, many internet users are encouraged to block sites that use Flash because of security issues.

Further reasons for avoiding Flash include:

– Search engines don’t like Flash. Flash website pages don’t get indexed properly by search engines because search bots can’t read Flash content. This will result in poor search engine rankings.

– Flash requires significant bandwidth. Don’t assume that your visitor has a high-speed internet connection. Lots of people are still using dial-up and other limited bandwidth connections. Flash files, particularly those which use sound effects, bitmap images and embedded movies, can take ages to load.

– Flash is not supported by Apple and many other mobile devices. Those users will therefore completely miss out on your site’s content and this could be up to 70-80% of all mobile users.

– Flash is poor practice in terms of making your website accessible to visually impaired visitors. Flash websites can’t be properly accessed by visually impaired people using special screen readers – they are unreadable by the browser and will appear blank.

– Flash can be astoundingly annoying and ignores your visitors’ needs. Flash doesn’t take into account the possibility that your visitor may not want to endure site intros and splash screens or to hear sound effects. What if they’re browsing from a quiet work cubicle, or are trying not to wake a sleeping person?

 

3.  Autoplay videos

Another speedy way to scare off visitors on your website and lose potential customers is to have Auto Play Videos. Visitors would likely much rather purchase a product or service from a business whose website didn’t force them to watch something they didn’t necessarily want to watch. Videos aren’t a bad thing to put on your website, but let visitors choose to play it themselves – don’t force them to watch with auto-play.

You don’t know how loud the video will be for the visitor. You don’t know what volume level their computer has been set at, whether they want or need to see a video if they know where the mute or stop button is, or if they even have their speakers on. This might also slow down loading time, and has the potential to make their browser freeze or crash. It’s better to let the customer control their own experience.

 

4. Typographical, spelling or grammatical errors

These are irritating at best and embarrassing at worst. Poor spelling and grammar or typos can make an otherwise polished-looking website seem amateurish and sloppy; it’s not a good look for the business. Instead of being impressed or intrigued, customers might be thinking something along the lines of “if they are not professional enough to get the spelling right on their own website then how can I trust they’ve got their services right”.

In order to engage prospective customers, your content should read compellingly and professionally, and need to showcase both your product and brand itself. Errors look unprofessional and will detract from the authority and trustworthiness of your business.

Proof-read and spell-check everything – then check it all again. If you lack this kind of fine attention to detail yourself (and don’t let this make you feel bad – it relates to a very particular skill-set), you may want to consider using the services of a professional copywriter, who will ensure that every word is perfect.

These kinds of glitches also have a negative impact on your SEO ranking. Search engines rank websites more favourably when they are free from spelling errors, thereby increasing your traffic.

 

5. Poor navigation

Nothing frustrates potential customers more than a site that’s difficult to navigate. Inconsistent, vague or overly complicated navigation can result in frustrated and confused visitors. If they can’t find their way on your site, they’re not likely to stick around to actually buy any of your products or services, and might leave with a negative opinion of your brand.

Your website navigation should be intuitive, logical and user-friendly. It should also require very little thought to actually get around. Ensure that your navigation structure enables visitors to easily access information and to quickly meet their objectives.

Easy navigation is even more important when visitors to your website are on their mobile phones, so you should look to potentially differentiate the navigation on a mobile version as customers want very simple and clear “click to call” and “click to action” when using a mobile device.

 

6. Low-quality images

To employ a rather overused phrase – “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

The images on your site need to be of considerable quality. If the images are actually of the product you are selling, this speaks for itself – you want them to be as clear and self-explanatory as possible for prospective customers.

Generally speaking, it’s better to use no image at all than to use something that’s over-compressed, poorly resized, pixelated, of a low resolution, or otherwise dubious-looking.
The importance of high-quality images is also heavily related to the kind of “feel” or message you want to create with your site. Images have the power to instantly evoke an impression, emotion or idea, and can give depth and context to a description, story or testimonial. This is amazingly important to the way you construct your brand.

Maddeningly, however, this size issue can go both ways. Oversized images are also unadvisable. However spectacular or evocative an image you select may be, if it takes too long to load, it will only turn potential customers off. Loading time counts for a lot, and a slow site will cost you customers (more on that in a moment). Select images judiciously and optimise them.

 

7. Crappy or irrelevant fonts

Fonts are about usability and should improve your websites ability to provide a smooth pleasant user experience. Fonts should be easy to read, visually appealing, and relate to your brand. If you are unsure of what fonts to use, advise your graphic designer or firm that desined your logo, and ask for a styleguide.

If you don’t have access to a designer and need to choose fonts yourself, I’d say the most important thing to bear in mind is: Don’t use too many.

The more fonts you have on a page, the more cluttered it looks.

– Pick no more than two.

– Be wary of fancy fonts. What may look beautiful to you might be difficult for your prospective customer to read. Ensure that the fonts you’re using are clear and accessible.

– Ensure that they’re big enough to be read with ease.

– Avoid using low contrast fonts. This refers to a lighter font on a light background or a darker font on a dark background. Again, it’s about usability.

 

8. Auto-Play music

For the same reason we don’t want Auto-Play videos, music that plays automatically on your website is not a good idea, and amounts to one of the most egregious cardinal sins in website design. It will irritate your visitors, and they will most likely leave the site immediately.

It’s okay to include music on your website if it serves some kind of purpose, and is relevant to your business objectives and digital marketing strategy. Although, it’s important to let visitors decide whether or not they want to hear it, as you have no idea what a visitor’s musical taste is, no idea where they are when they open your web page and no idea how loud they have their speakers set. Therefore, it’s best not to force them to listen to it by playing it automatically.

 

9. Slow loading pages

As mentioned in a previously in this article, your website might be visually spectacular, but if the loading time is too slow it won’t make the slightest difference.

We’ve all been there – a site that takes forever to load is infuriating. Visitors will not wait for pages to load. They will grow impatient and they will leave.

Look out for the following things that may slow page loading time:

– Java
– Flash
– Excessive usage of ads
– Non-optimised images
– Bloated images
– A mediocre web host
– Dead links
– Bulky code

 

 10. Vague or unclear information

Your website should make it extremely clear what your business does, and what products or services it offers. It should be able to convey this information speedily – any visitor should be able to ascertain this basic information within five seconds of browsing.

Avoid technical, obscure, corporate or highly industry-specific jargon – keep language plain and simple. Also, ensure that your copy is specific. Avoid descriptors that are vague, unqualified, and don’t really mean anything like “innovative”, “high quality”, “first-rate” and “superior”.

The saying “there is no second chance at a first impression” is particularly true with websites. The home page of your site must be very clear and concise as to what your business does and what products or services you are selling. If not, you will have a high bounce rate and potential customers will remain just that, potential customers.

Mal Peter

Managing Director at Trilogy Web Solutions
Mal Peter has 25 years experience in helping small to medium sized businesses create custom-built google search optimised mobile websites, multi-device website solutions & implementing digital & mobile marketing campaigns. He specialises in helping businesses to build their brand and generate leads and sales.

Latest posts by Mal Peter (see all)

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