Top ten mistakes that can really hurt a website
When developing a website for a small business, the same rule applies for any other website: If visitors don′t feel repulsed by it, fifty percent of the job is done.
I won′t dance around it: creating a good website is a lot of work, and the following list will most likely not cover everything, but hopefully it will give you an idea of what a bad website looks like, and how to fix it:
Content organization issues
Blocks of text that lack of proper punctuation, indentation and white space are a big turn-off. Lack of white space in particular makes the page look crammed and unappealing. An important thing to consider is that the most important information should be placed first, within the first paragraph, so as to offer users something right away. The truth is, no matter how good looking your website is, visitors will not spend a second more than they have to unless they find what they are looking for.
A big content issue normally found mostly on outdated websites is media overload: too many images, animations or heavy flash content and scripts overloading the page and competing for attention make the page look cheap and spammy.
The quickest way to get users to click away from a website is to confuse the heck out of them with a navigation system that makes no sense. Hiding important links inside multiple levels of drop-down menus, or somewhere in a large paragraph is not a good way to make a user feel welcome.
One of the most crucial aspects common to web design, desktop publishing and informational design in general, is to be consistent in the look of your product. It′s never a good thing when every page of a website looks different, to the point of leaving users wandering if they are still on the same website. Research the best theme, color palette and style for your website and stick with it.
Font sizes too small to read, font color that fades into the background, background images that make text difficult to read, misspellings, bad grammar and punctuation are just a few of the many factors that can seriously injure a website′s readability.
Old and outdated information
When a website displays information that dates back months or even years about an outdated event, users will get that “lights are on but nobody′s home” feeling. This is particularly dangerous for businesses that need to notify customers of special events, such as promotions, or a change in business hours.
Don′t keep your visitors waiting
The last thing anyone wants to see when visiting a website for the first time is progress bars of any kind. Video buffering, flash content downloading, large images freezing the page, anything that keeps a user waiting for more than five seconds is never worth the wait.
Call to action overload
Calls to action are a good thing, when used in moderation. A ton of unusually large flashing banners screaming at me to sign up for this or that amazing offer... no thanks.
If the objective is to get users to sign up for a mailing list, a simple, elegantly designed form will do plenty more than a dozen loud and obnoxious banners.
External links are a great way to keep good relationships with other webmasters and to build search engine ranking, as well as providing well-researched and useful external resources to visitors.
The downside is that too many links, or links to sites that contain irrelevant information, will, at best, penalize a website, and at it′s worst, ban it from search results.
Keyword density and placement is an important factor that gets often overlooked. Search engines look for text. Having said that, it′s important to remember that search engines can′t read text that is embedded in images, flash animations or video.
Warning: do not stuff a page with keywords. Use search terms wisely, and put terms in a readable sentence that makes sense to a human. Keyword stuffing is very frowned upon by search engines and will result in a website being penalized in search results.
How′s everything looking?
Check everything before uploading. Test your forms, make sure they will work properly. Test your design on multiple devices, like tablets, smartphones, even smart TV′s. Keep in mind that similar devices run different operating systems. See how different your page renders on Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry. Don′t leave loose ends.