5 Common Website Fails To Avoid

Here's a common conversation in today's business world:

"Have you visited our website?"

"Yes, I checked it out yesterday."

"Did you see the section on [insert topic]?"

"Actually, I saw the homepage but I didn't
really go through the site."

Sound familiar?  You have probably been either the host or the visitor of this example a few times in your web life.  So often, we land on the homepage of a website and hover at the threshold, visually browsing and "window shopping" the site's features without digging any deeper.

There are many reasons why people move on to the next attention magnet without absorbing anything of value from your homepage, but here are 5 key design flaws to be avoided to maximize the impact of your site.

1. Overshare
The number one Golden Rule of website content is quality over quantity.  Yes, websites can be great resource centers for your visitors which will draw people in, but dumping mass amounts of text, links, navigation bars, tables, feature blurbs and graphics on the front page is more likely to overload the viewer and drive them away.  Real estate agents are notorious for overcrowding their homepage with as many resourceful links and tidbits as they can gather, forcing you to scroll down for miles.  Keep it clean and inviting.  There should one clear message that greets the visitor when they find your homepage and you don't want to confuse them or lose their focus.

2. Disorganized Domains
A website should never be difficult to navigate.  When you do have a lot of information to present, break it into digestible pieces, sections and headings.  Provide sub-menus to let your audience know what is available without throwing it all at them at once.  Your visitors should see a clear path through your site that leads to the information that pertains to them.  It might be a different path for different people, but it should always be easy to get there, and get back.  Walking them through a couple of pages to get them to the specific information they want will also encourage them to continue clicking and see more of the site.  A site map is always a good idea, too.

3. Homely Homepages
With all the prefabricated design templates available for free today, there is really no excuse anymore for an ugly site.  Although the design may not be as important as the substance and functionality of the pages, making an impact is going to require a visual stimulus that gets people's attention and sparks their interest.  Many times, your homepage is your prospects first visual exposure to your company, and we all know what they say about first impressions.  Invest the effort in dressing up the site and get a custom design that suits your brand and the message you are trying to portray.

4. Output Only
An effective website will involve the visitor by encouraging interaction.  "Click here", "Learn more", "Enter now" and "Contact us" are all great examples of interactive call-to-action statements that keep the dialogue between the visitor and your site flowing.  If you don't prompt the viewer to do anything when they hit your homepage, they probably won't!  Ask for feedback, provide downloadable content, host a video, do something to break out of brochure mode and maximize the capabilities of your website.

5. Collecting Cob-Webs
Neglecting your website can kill your image.  Information that is obviously outdated and therefore useless is a serious faux-pas.  It paints you as a company that doesn't care about its public image.  It's like going to a sales call with a food stain on your shirt.  Even current data needs to be refreshed regularly to demonstrate your activity and business evolution.  Standing still is akin to sinking in today's web world.  Keep a monthly news & events blurb on the homepage [and update it!] so that something changes regularly.  Dedicate an area for a graphic that can be easily swapped out for a new image every season.  A blog can be extremely effective, if admittedly arduous to maintain.  Just keep it fresh.

Avoiding these 5 pitfalls will help you stand out from the crowd in the virtual world and strengthen the impact of your home on the web.  Contact us today for assistance in creating or revamping your website.

Thank you for flying sevenfold...