In this article, I list what I feel, and what other surfers have shared with me, are the mistakes that not only drive visitors away, but also drive them “crazy. "
#1. An incredibly long download time. We are all impatient when surfing the Internet. There are still many computer users without high speed connections, so avoid the following factors that contribute to slowness:
- Flash Intros - I love Flash. It is an amazing program that helps a designer/developer do exciting movies and animations. The main problem, however, is that many of the intros don't enhance the experience and take so long to open, the visitor has clicked away.
- Graphics that are large and/or not optimized - I also love graphics. The problem is that designers resize the graphic after it is placed on a webpage. This means the visitor has to wait for the large graphic to load and then be resized. Resize graphics before adding to the page and also optimize for quick loading by lowering the resolution (quality).
- Bloated code - Several authoring software programs produce more code that is necessary. FrontPage 2003 is better than the earlier versions, but my authoring program of choice for clean, non-bloated and web compliant code is Macromedia's Dreamweaver.
#2. Lack of clarity - Visiting a website, we expect to find our way around easily, to realize the purpose of the website, to know what the site has to offer, and how to find it. For the sake of clarity, avoid the following:
- Mystery meat - Vincent Flanders and Dean Peters in their Web Pages that Suck books compare websites that are confusing - you don't know what they are about or where they are going - to mystery meat. Be obvious - most users are not into guessing what it's all about.
- Difficult navigation - It is another mystery when finding a page or the information you want. If visitors must click more than three times to find what they are looking for, they will click away. Solutions are providing a search feature or a straightforward site map made up of obvious text links.
- Hidden or incomplete contact information - It is frustrating if there isn't a clear way to contact the company or owner of the website. Personally, I don't advise having only one contact page. I prefer to include the information or at least a link to the e-mail address on every page of the site. It is also my bias that the full address and phone number be posted for credibility.
Little substance, professionalism or attention to important details - I am sure that you have visited websites that proceed to tell you how they are the “best” and yet shout out the opposite message. To avoid giving the wrong message, pay attention to the following:
- Content must be informative, well developed and complete - How often have you visited a site for useful content and found a bunch of photos with a few short bullets and no true substance? We need to make our content strong enough that the visitor wants to read it and then come back for more.
- Typos and grammatical errors scream non-professional - Yes, I know that we all make errors, especially if we are writing many articles, descriptions and e-newsletters. But, if our copy is loaded with poor grammar, misspellings, terrible punctuation and malapropisms, we will be sending the wrong message along with sending our visitors away forever.
Chris King is a professional website creator / designer, storyteller, writer, free agent, and fitness instructor. You will find her business website at http://www.creativekeys.biz and her information website at http://www.creativekeys.net