Are You Committing These 12 Deadly Website Sins?

Promoting your services online is a must. It creates instant credibility and additional marketing opportunities. And it's a great way to showcase your design skills even if you have a thin portfolio.

But your site needs to communicate clearly and succinctly with visitors. Here are 12 website sins that get in the way of clear communication, and can even cost you a potential client:

  1. King Kong sized files – Great animation may be fun to look at, but it's a pain to wait minutes on end to load. Most people won't bother … and they'll leave irritated. Show prospects you respect their time by providing information in a quick, clean manner.

  2. Bad structure – Design your site so it makes sense to visitors. What kind of information will they want? In what order? Use direct marketing strategies to lead readers from one paragraph to the next, and one page to the next—just like you'd lead them through a sales package.

  3. Leading readers astray – If you've ever clicked on a page only to discover there's no way out, you know what it's like to get stuck in a website quagmire. You want to make it easy for viewers to find their way around your site, so provide a navigation bar on every page. Also link the pages so they can back out of a page to the previous one if they wish.

  4. Trying to include everything – I recently visited a copywriter's site that included everything about her but the size of her Grand pappy's boots. The purpose of a website is to communicate what makes you different from other designers – not just a storehouse of disparate samples and information.

    So before you do anything else, put together a focused marketing message and design around that. If you're not sure how to approach this, you may want to partner with a copywriter to work out content before you start designing.

  5. Unproofed copy – Don't do like the artist whose site reads, “Ignore the typos. I'm fixing them when I move to a new server.” Your site is probably the first impression a potential client gets of you. Make it the best one possible, even if that means farming out the copy to ensure a professional image.

  6. No contact information – You want potential clients to contact you. Include your full contact information on every page so they don't have to go hunting for it—because they won't.

  7. Readers can't download important information – Your business doesn't exist only in cyberspace. Make sure readers can easily download your bio, resume, and other key information to keep on hand if they choose.

  8. Delaying entry – If visitors didn't want to enter your site they wouldn't have come there in the first place. So dump the gateway page and let readers in immediately.

  9. Flash intros – If you're a web designer specializing in Flash and you want to show off your skills then by all means use a short Flash intro. Otherwise, don't do it just because it's “cool.” Your visitors are busy. They're at your site for one reason: to see what you can do for them.

  10. Maddening Music – The beauty of music is in the ear of the beholder and the tunes you like might give someone else an instant migraine. Save music for your personal listening pleasure.

  11. Automatic audio on every page – I viewed a site last week where the “guru” had a voice-over starting automatically on every page. Plus more audio buttons for every product.

    At one point there were two different conversations coming through my speakers at the same time. The only way to stop them was to leave the site. So I did. Use audio clips sparingly – if at all – and for very specific purposes.

  12. Unidentified Icons – Icons and navigation buttons defeat your purpose if viewers don't understand what they mean. If it doesn't make things easier and clearer for viewers, don't put it on your site.

Create a site that does its job well. Potential clients will appreciate your efforts … and you'll appreciate their new business.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: June 16, 2006

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