We’ve compiled a list of things that drive people away from your site based on the websites of actual businesses we’ve either started working with or simply encountered over the years. We refer to them as mistakes, but many website owners would argue with us about whether they are mistakes or not. They were almost always put there on purpose. It’s only a mistake if you want your website to generate more business.
It’s a website designer’s duty to deliver a website that the business owner wants and likes. A website designer can’t or won’t always be able to protect you from these mistakes.
Your website doesn’t have to be boring, but it absolutely has to be professional. With that in mind, we introduce you to 25 website mistakes that render a website unprofessional, or just plain repel visitors.
We hope the list uncovers something that helps you improve your website.
Mistake #25 Excessive Multiple Colored Fonts
I know you have seen websites like these. Having alternating sentences in lime green and coral might might suggest that you, the business owner, are whimsical, but is that the most important message to send in a first impression? “Find another company to do business with” is the message that comes across loud and clear when multiple coloured fonts are used in a business website.
Mistake #24 Comic Sans Font
This font used to be popular in the 90s. It is a casual typeface designed for applications intended for children. It is definitely not a font you want to use if your intent is to portray your business as being professional. If you are not sure what Comic Sans looks like, this paragraph is written in that font.
Mistake #23 Website Aligned Left
This is another issue from the 1990s. When your website is aligned left and not centered on the page, it’s another feature that screams out, “Our business likes to portray itself as careful and thrifty – oh, and also out of touch.”
Mistake #22 Website 800 PX Wide
This isn’t so common anymore, but it is still the website of choice for some businesses. It’s another holdover from the 1990s. When your website is 800 pixels wide it says, “Welcome to the 1990s.” The only problem with that message is that it’s no longer the 90s. The money you save on website design fees doesn’t even come close to the business lost by telling people you just discovered the “information superhighway”.
Mistake #21 Pagination (Where 10 Images = 10 Pages)
Isn’t it fun to view a slideshow then try to try to use the back button on your browser only to discover that each image was an individual page? You can’t get back to the original page. This is a holdover from 15 years ago when having a large number of pages helped your site succeed. That ship sailed a long time ago – don’t bloat the numbers of pages. If it has no useful content it’s not a page. Neither is an image.
Mistake #20 Reverse Font
Reverse font is white font on a black background or worse, over an image that renders the text impossible to read. It communicates a message that your business website is more of a hobby website. Reverse font is great for those into Dungeons & Dragons, but if you want your business to appear professional, don’t use it.
Mistake #19 Anything That Flashes
Nothing says unprofessional louder than flashing (anything). It doesn’t matter if it’s flashing ads, or flashing font, or flashing banners. Get rid of the flashing items. They draw attention, but it’s the kind of attention that drives visitors away.
Mistake #18 Auto-Start Video
How about letting your visitors choose whether or not to watch your
video. Tempt them, encourage them, but don’t force them. It’s a back
button click waiting to
happen. I usually find these sites when I’m in a quiet room.
Mistake #17 Auto-Sound
If you have ever unknowingly had your speakers turned up loud, then
suddenly encountered a website that, without warning, starts to play
music? I think you’ll agree
that it’s hard to find the back button quickly enough. Auto-sound is a really bad idea to apply to your site. Give people an option to play music if you must, but don’t force it on them.
Mistake #16 Website Navigation Problems
If I’m bewildered by your navigation, you’ve lost me and lots of others. Some websites have dozens of links in their navigation. Others don’t have any. Some try to hide the navigation – maybe part of a game they are playing? There are also a lot of navigation errors – broken links and links pointing to pages other than what the navigation button promises. People are not going to search through every page of your site until they find what they are looking for. Make your navigation simple and logical and make sure it is fully functional.
Mistake #15 Internal Links Open New Windows
This is an extremely annoying feature when a website’s navigation opens a new window for every page. Lots of websites offer links that open a new window to an external website when clicked. That’s designed to keep your original website open when sending traffic to another website, sort of like “Don’t forget about us!” When it’s used for every link of the navigation, it’s extremely annoying and completely unnecessary. Visit three or four pages and now you have three or four tabs or windows opened. If it’s your intention to annoy your website visitors, this is a great choice.
Mistake #14 Empty Pages
Another item that says, “neglect”. If there’s nothing on the page then remove the page for now, and create it again when you have some content to put in it. If it’s not valuable information, then why have it? If it is valuable information, then why not complete the project? The promise of valuable information in the future is not what website visitors are looking for. It gives people an impression that your business is not detail oriented.
Mistake #13 Ancient Content
Was your last blog entry March 2004? Is your copyright 2002?
About ten years ago, there was a blog craze sweeping the internet. Everyone was instructed to attach a blog to their website and start blogging their way to success. It faded because business owners don’t make time for something that shows no return on the time they invested and that’s what happened in most cases. Not knowing what to write and not being able to write well are two major issues the proponents of blogging forgot to talk about. Now those blog entries from 2007 suggest neglect. If you have abandoned your blog, then remove it.
Mistake #12 Popup Ads or Interstitials
An interstitial is an ad that covers the whole page so you have to click on the “X” to see the content. To suggest that these not be on your website is controversial because their purpose is to increase conversions. However, it’s also about employing an annoying feature, which these undoubtedly are. Think of the last time you visited a website that used an interstitial. You were reading content when suddenly, a screen overlay appears and you are faced with an offer of some sort. What was your reaction? Happy to have that offer? Or were you cursing under your breath? Do you want your website to annoy people? If not, remove the interstitial.
Mistake #11 No Trust Elements
One of the things people most want to know is whether or not your
business is trustworthy. Is this website a complete fraud? It’s not like
you are meeting eye-to-eye.
If there’s nothing on your website that addresses the trust issue, you are losing money. So, whether it’s BBB, Chamber of Commerce, professional associations, testimonials, or an about us page – you need something!
Mistake #10 Typos/Grammar
This is another mistake that is easy to fix, but not fixing it suggests you are either not too bright, or you just don’t care which might be unfair, but that’s how people will judge your business. One tip here – if you are grammatically challenged, try using a free browser plugin called Grammarly.
Mistake #9 Use of Jargon
This is a very common mistake particularly in technical websites. Technical people have a tendency to think that others speak the same jargon filled language. They don’t. When I read a page of your website and feel like I have to find an expert to explain to me what you do, you are cutting out a huge part of your potential audience. You may have a product or service I really need, but if I can’t understand what you are offering, then I’m off to your competitor’s site. You had your chance and blew it.
Mistake #8 Broken Links
You find yourself on a website and you click on a link. Nothing happens or it points to a page that no longer exists. Or maybe there’s a large, gaping hole in the page where an image used to be. Either way, you’ve just made some money – for your competitors. This is so easy to fix, yet so common.
Mistake #7 Broken Features
Your slideshow doesn’t work? Flash file is not visible? Nothing says, “I don’t care about your first impression” like a website with obvious broken features. It’s the online equivalent to garbage in the entrance to your store or office.
Mistake #6 SSL Certificate Issues
Expired SSL or an SSL certificate applied to a page that is not using HTTPS will cause any browser to warn the pending visitor that there’s a major problem. Usually it’s a red screen with a severe warning. Nothing will get rid of visitors faster than a warning from their browser that your site may be about to implant malware into your computer or phone even if you are not malicious at all, but neglectful. Do not let your SSL certificate expire or fix your page if it has an SSL certificate and is not HTTPS! The browser’s warning seems extremely harsh but that’s a real threat to your business.
Mistake #5 Not Mobile Friendly
Name one person you know that doesn’t have a phone in their pocket or purse. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly version of your website, you are sending a huge number of visitors to your competitors. No one is going to struggle to use their fingertip to try to click the microscopic font link you’ve provided for them. For most businesses, a minimum of 30% of the traffic comes from mobile devices. Don’t lose that business – your marketing worked hard for you to have to chance to get it.
Mistake #4 Fail To Mention Where Your Business Operates
This is a major problem with the internet in general and with internet advertising in particular. So many advertising accounts online are set up poorly so the ad appears where it was not intended to appear. Have you ever found a website that you would respond to, only to find that there’s no mention of what city the business is in? You hope it’s the same city as you expect, but you can’t be sure. Also, Springfield Orthodontics may seem descriptive until you realize there’s a Springfield in every state. This is the internet, not a phone book. It’s easy to find websites for the wrong city. Make it immediately clear where your business operates.
Mistake #3 Contact Information Hard To Find
Is there a penalty or cost for having contact information on every page? There must be because businesses ask me to hunt for their contact info all the time. Just so you know, I don’t hunt for contact information. Also, don’t be afraid to put it in the part of a page where people would typically look – header, sidebar or footer are three common areas.
Mistake #2 Fail To Mention What Your Business Does
Amazingly, there business websites that are not clear about what they do. If you own a roofing business and call it A-1 Contractors and the home page features an image of the building where your business is located, you better let us in on the secret of what exactly you do.
Mistake #1 Slow Load Times
This will cause your business to lose new customers and it counteracts your best marketing efforts. The current trend in websites is for them to become larger and larger, with more and more complexities. Unnecessary complexities in many cases, but that’s the trend in the world of website design. Your new site is probably much slower than your old site.
A good rule of thumb is that every second costs you 10% or more of your potential visitors. We recently started working with a brand-new website that when delivered from the designers had a download speed of 54 seconds! The bounce rate of that new site was through the roof. No one wants to wait 54 seconds for the page to appear in front of them. We fixed that problem but it is not an uncommon isolated incident. Slow load times are an increasing problem.