10 Website Sins and How to Avoid Them

Better Design, Layout, Headlines, Sub-Heading, Copy, and Much More!

Your Website stinks, if you have committed any one of the 10 Website Sins listed in this article. They not only turn your visitors away, but can also prove fatal for the life of your Website. This is especially true if you plan to make some money from it!

1. The biggest problem for many years is waiting for your Website to download and open the page. There are countless times I have not bothered waiting and closed the browser Window. Do not assume all your visitors are on Broadband, because the bulk of people on the Internet still use dial-up connections. If you have to display videos, let the visitor decide whether to play them and do not let them load automatically.

If you have a Flash intro, put a visible bypass link to allow people to get to the meat of your Website without wasting time watching your granny in the garden. When your Website is media-rich, let your Home Page be a simple choice for the visitor to select either Broadband or Dial-up.

2. The second reason your Website stinks is if your message is not immediately obvious. I want to know—within the first couple of seconds your page opens—exactly what it is you do, offer, or sell. Define the purpose of your Website, then write a strong headline message, and feature this in the Home Page title, description, and page heading.

3. Do not attack me with multi-colour Website, or one with an extremely dark background and weird, light-coloured text. In the early days of Websites, some pitiful techie gave out the information that on computer screens it was easier to read text if it was white on a dark background. You may even be old enough to remember the DOS writing software called WordStar, which featured white text on blue background; in fact, you can still use this effect on most word processing software today.

However, the truth of the matter is that everybody prefers black text on white background; yes, I know there are exceptions to every rule but if you are going to sell to that tiny market sector, you going to go broke very quickly!

4. If your page opened quickly on my browser, and within a couple of seconds I understood exactly what your Website offers in a natural colour scheme that was attractive to me and 6 billion others, I may try to open another page. This is often the fourth reason why your Website stinks, because you make it far too difficult for me to:

  • find out where I can go, and
  • get there!

You will hide your navigation stuff right down at the bottom of a horribly long page, and then make the links in the smallest possible text. Worse, you use evil looking graphic buttons with strange pictures and unknown text that I can never decipher. Let me give you a free, hot tip that not many people know—your links to other pages on your Website are usually keywords.

Ah! The light is beginning to dawn, because keywords are the little things that Search Engine spiders look for and gobble up before indexing your page, or rushing home and telling daddy Google there is nothing to eat! Therefore, to give yourself a chance of a listing, use text links at the top and the left of your Website, and use your keywords as links. Make it the same on every page and be consistent, do not make me have to search for it, because I won’t—I will simply close the browser.

5. While I am on the subject of your hyperlinks, please make sure that they are all active and point to the right information on the correct page. You can close browsers so quickly, and sent all your visitors away—never to return—when your navigation links don’t work!

6. There are a lot of very clever people and more than a few billionaires who do not know how to spell, and have no idea of good grammar. However, that is no excuse for you to publish Websites with pages crammed with errors of this nature. Even the most simple of word processors has a spell-check button and frequently a grammar check that you can easily apply. If this subject is totally beyond you, find somebody who can do it for you; and don’t be a cheapskate and ask your best mate, look online and get it done by a professional.

7. Do you know what makes your Website really stink? It is when I keep finding pages listed as under-construction; often with cute little cartoon pictures of men in hard hats digging holes or building skyscrapers. I am not interested in seeing pages with nothing on them so do not even upload them or publish them on the Internet. Just write the full page and then shove it online and you will have happy little visitors who may even return.

8. Who are you? What on earth is the point of publishing a great Website on how to play par golf every round, if I don’t know who you are, where you have your office, and how to get in touch with you? You can put these details at the bottom of your pages, or better still have a nice little text link on your navigation bar that simply says ‘Contact’ and I will know what it means.

This page can include a lot of useful information that not only gives your Website some credibility, sadly lacking from the mauve background with yellow text, but tells me exactly what I want to know. Do not confuse ‘Contact’ with ‘About’, because the ‘About’ page is to provide me with information About the Website, its objectives, the information it provides, and its authors and contributors.

9. I am really choked with I return to your Website and find dusty old pages covered in cobwebs because you have not updated them for yonks. You might think spiders like cobwebs, and in real life they even make them, but if a Google spider finds them on your Website it will scurry home to tell daddy and you may lose your listing. If you have a rank, you will certainly slide down a notch or two, so keep your pages filled with new information, and update it regularly.

10. The final point that makes your Website stink is when the information and advice you offer is not relevant or useful. I visit Websites to find information and solve problems, not to see funny little cartoons or quotations from Shakespeare because you like them. Furthermore, write your copy just as if you were talking to me and avoid jargon—those words that only you and other ‘insiders’ understand. If you have to use a technical term, make sure you provide a full explanation of it.

So there you have it, 10 cosy little reasons why your visitors do not come back; so off you toddle and re-write your Website!