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The 6 Deadly Web Design Sins

14 Oct 2009 | Posted Under Internet
by Carl Weiss

While it's true that "nobody's perfect," I think this credo is especially telling for small business websites. No web site it seems is absolutely perfect. Even the best of the best often have room for improvement! But there are some basic website mistakes that many small companies make that wind up hurting business instead of helping it. Do any of these 6 deadly web design sins show up on your web site?

#1: Not enough content. All too often, small businesses do not include enough information to pique the viewer's attention. Worst still, all too many sites leave their homepage static for months or even years on end. This is hardly the kind of thing that is going to encourage repeat viewership. Especially today, with the advent of blogs, podcasts and streaming video, there's no excuse for static homepage content. Today's web visitors are looking for something more, and lots of good quality content is a great way to deliver value to your visitors and build credibility for your business.

#2: The wrong content It seems odd after more than a decade of nearly exponential developments in online interactivity that some businesses still make the mistake of employing "Intro Pages" that do absolutely nothing but lay there. Unfortunately, these dinosaurs are still around. To understand why these relics can only hurt viewer satisfaction, think of how you as a television viewer hate to sit through commercial breaks at the beginning of a favorite show. That's what web surfers feel about "Intro Pages." They are just as likely to click over to another site then click through to your actual homepage. If you are still employing these dinosaurs, relegate them to the boneyard before your online business winds up extinct.

#3: All Flash = No Dazzle! Sad to say, there are still some small businesses out there that rely on Flash for their website's architecture. Sites built exclusively with Flash pages cannot easily be read by the search engines, and web visitors typically hate using them as well, since they are slow to load. Due to their graphical nature, these pages exclude such things as Meta Tags and text that are vital to search engine rankings. Sure, they look cool, but that doesn't mean that your viewers agree, particularly if they have to wait 30 seconds or so for the page to load. If you must use Flash components, stick to using them as banners and headers. This way you can combine cause with effect, which is surely the best of both worlds.

#4: Not being search engine friendly Another deadly sin involves your site's relationship, or lack thereof, with the major search engines. I'm not advocating creating content exclusively for the sake of website positioning. On the other hand, I'm also not saying that you should concentrate exclusively on website content to the detriment of optimization. After all, what good will it do for you to have the sexiest site on the Internet if nobody ever sees it? Speaking of search engines, what happens if a search engine spider visits your site, but can't read your web pages? Nothing happens, and that's a problem. If a search engine spider cannot read your web pages, it just moves on to the next site, and your information is completely ignored. Your web site must be search engine friendly in order to be included in the search engine databases.

#5: Not monitoring your website's statistics Even if your web site is well designed and search engine friendly, if you aren't monitoring site performance on a page by page basis, how will you know if content and content changes are affecting viewer satisfaction? Monitoring your web site means that you can react to and take appropriate steps to make sure your site is doing its best to motivate your viewers, deliver your message and produce the kind of tangible results that keeps the cash register jingling.

#6: Lacking a tangible offer It is hard enough to get anyone to click over to your site. When they get there, you had better have a darn good reason for them to leave their calling card in the form of a registration before clicking out. To encourage registration, you must offer some intangible that is of value to the prospect. This is most usually in the form of information, dispensed in one of three ways: Free E-Book (ie written), Free Audio (ie podcast) or Free Video. The lure of a free offer must be prominently displayed, not buried below the fold. It must convey urgency. And it must be readily and instantly accessible. Most usually, you can create one of these beauties by coupling a flash or gif animated banner ad with a cgi form.

For instance, one of our clients, a credit repair bureau, had us create a short video for use as a registration vehicle. The message was, "Interested in a Crash Course in Credit Repair? Click here for your Free Video." We coupled this with a form that not only asked for the registrant's name, email address, snail mail address and phone number, but it also asked them several questions about their credit worthiness. This kind of content-rich information is then used as a lead list, as well as loaded into the client's email server for later updates and offers.

By avoiding these six deadly web design sins, you can turn your website from a static presence into an effective and affordable lead generation system that will help you generate new customers, promote customer loyalty, increase your firm's geographic presence and make more sales. For more information on how to turn your computer into a lead generating, email dispensing, newsletter publishing, cash register ringing machine, call Acess JAX at (904) 234-6007.  (FYI: Call us today for a no-cost, no-obligation web presence audit that will detail how your website stacks up versus the compettion.)

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