1. Don’t use obnoxious or confusing colours
Whilst there may be some exceptions to this rule and in some very rare cases where garish, lurid or even obnoxious colours can be effective, exercise caution here. It can also go horribly wrong. 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, (and in particular your own personal taste) a well-constructed site should draw the eye and be generally clean, uncluttered and readable. It should not trigger migraines for your potential customers. The ways in which colours are used are vital to a user-friendly approach.
Chances are, while you may be particularly enamored with the idea of a vivid purple, yellow and green colour scheme, it’s going to look disordered and confused, and will likely 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. Don’t use flash
There are so many reasons why Flash shouldn’t belong on your website. For one thing, Flash has a long history of security flaws, bugs, and malware. Moreover, these days, people are encouraged to block sites that use Flash because of security issues.
However, there are a lot more reasons why Flash is a bad idea including:
- 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. Don’t have auto play videos
Another speedy way to scare off visitors to your website and hence potential customers is to have Auto Play Videos. Seriously, they will leave your site, and will never again return. They will go and purchase the products or services of your competitor or go to another pub or restaurant whose website didn’t make them watch anything they didn’t choose to watch. Videos aren’t necessarily 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. LET THE VISITOR CONTROL THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE.
4. Don’t have typographical, spelling or grammatical errors
These are irritating at best and embarrassing at worst. Poor spelling or grammar and typos can make an otherwise polished-looking website seem amateurish and sloppy and this, unfortunately, can reflect on your business and leave potential customers with an uncomfortable feeling. In essence, they are thinking “if they are not professional enough to get the spelling right on their own website then why would I engage them to assist me”
In order to engage prospective customers, your content should read compellingly and professionally, and needs 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, and 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 negative SEO implications. Search engines rank websites more favourably when they are free from spelling errors, thereby increasing your traffic.
5. Don’t have poor navigation
Nothing frustrates a potential customer more than a site that’s difficult to navigate. Inconsistent, vague or overly complicated navigation can result in frustrated and confused visitors. This can mean they’re not likely to stick around to actually buy your products or services and can 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. Don’t have low-quality images
To employ a rather overused phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words. The images on your site should be of considerable quality.
If these 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. Don’t use crappy fonts
Oh, you thought you’d use Times New Roman on your website? Well, now your site looks like it was written by a year 10 school student who waited until half an hour before an assignment was due to start it. Not so professional or reassuring, right?
The thing is, fonts are about usability and should improve your websites ability to provide a smooth pleasant user experience.
Fonts should be easier to read, visually appealing, and not headache-inducing. Some things to bear in mind: 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.
- Also, 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, this is about usability.
8. Don’t have auto play music
In a similar way to Auto Play Videos, Music that plays automatically on your website is a terrible, terrible idea, and amounts to one of the most egregious cardinal sins in website design. It will irritate your visitors, and they will leave the site immediately. Give them a bad experience and potentially they will NEVER return.
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 their musical tastes are, NO idea where they are when they open your web page and NO idea how loud they have their computer set. Therefore, it’s best not to force them to listen to it by playing it automatically.
9. Don’t have slow loading pages
As discussed in a previous point, your website might be visually spectacular, but if the loading time is too slow, this 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.
Things that may affect loading time include:
• Excessive usage of ads
• Non-optimised images
• Bloated images
• A mediocre web host
• Dead links
• Bulky code
10. Don’t have 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 it’s not, you will have a high bounce rate and potential customers will remain just that, potential customers.