Seven Deadly Website Mistakes

Your prospects treat words on the Web differently than words in print. Studies show that 79% of Internet users scan the page rather than read word for word. What does this mean to you? It means that whatever your prospect reads had better be right on target. Here, then, are seven website mistakes to avoid.

  1. Mistake #1: Opening With Flash

    Open with a bang, but not with Flash (which is a program by Macromedia that shows mini-movies). Web designers LOVE Flash animation. They think it's pretty. Internet cruisers hate it. It stands between them and the information they're hunting for. So trash the Flash. And go with stronger copy instead.

  2. Mistake #2: No Compelling Headlines or Subheads

    Research shows that the first thing Web users see is your headline. Their eyes then drift down the page, looking for easy-to-pick-up words. So, your headline and subheads should effectively tell scanners what's on the page without having to dig into the copy. They're like a quick summary of the entire page!

    Headlines get the attention. The first subhead identifies the problem for your target audience. The next wows them with the solution. This way, scanners can gloss over the content and get the whole story quickly. Once they're hooked, they'll go back and read your copy.

  3. Mistake #3: "Welcome to My Home Page"

    You're wasting valuable real estate if this is your first phrase. It will be the first and last thing a visitor reads. Your prospects visit to find something for THEM. Something THEY need got them to your site. Figure out what it is and give it to them as benefits and emotional buttons in your copy.

  4. Mistake #4: Not Building Copy Around Keywords and Phrases

    Internet surfers type keywords and phrases into search engines like Google. Then they click the sites at the top of the search results. Search engines put sites that contain relevant keywords HIGHER on that list. Figure out what words your target market would type in to find you. These are your keywords. Build them into your copy.

  5. Mistake #5: Not Enough White Space

    Use strategic white space to pull your reader through your copy from start to finish. Reading on a computer screen is tiring on the eyes and is 25% slower than reading print. Make it easier. Break up your information into bite-sized pieces. Use short, snappy sentences and short paragraphs with one thought only. Use bullets liberally. Make your copy easy to scan.

  6. Mistake #6: Boring the Reader

    Marketing genius Joseph Sugarman said that the purpose of copy is to get you to read the first sentence. Then that sentence should get you to read the NEXT sentence. And so on.

    Good copy is like a fire-bucket brigade in the old days. During a fire, villagers lined up, with one end of the line at the water source … and the other end at the blaze. They passed buckets down the line briskly. Without letting up. Without slowing. That's the pace your copy must have. Each sentence leading into the next.

  7. Mistake #7: UNDERESTIMATING THE IMPORTANCE OF COPY

    What makes copy invaluable is its ability to build a lasting relationship with your reader. Good copy is friendly. Informative. Establishes rapport. It builds trust and loyalty. It deepens the connection between you and your audience. Once you have that bond, convincing them how great your product or service is will be a snap. They're READY to sign up!

[Ed. Note: The above article was written by master copywriter Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero, and was originally featured in John Forde's Copywriter's Roundtable #139.]

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Published: July 19, 2004

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