Most of you have heard of all the ways to improve you site, and there are many. Perhaps you make a mental note and say to yourself “I’ll have to add that on our next revision.” This list is to help motivate you to get to the next version of your site.
As Jeff Foxworthy states: If you do _______ at the family barbecue…you might be a redneck. Well, if your site includes the following elements, you might be driving away clients and visitors.
1. Your website opens with a Flash-movie before a person can view your homepage. A bit pre-2002, but we still find them from time to time. This traps the user to watch your introduction of flying colors, logos, achievements and elements that are not important to your visitor. It may work for a night club or Elton John’s site, but not for most businesses. Lean to the side of letting people see your homepage just as quickly as possible, then they can navigate to a video or other media that may show off your achievements with some creativity. Also, a Flash-intro demonstrates you spent some money on your site once, so its time to re-up and get a new one.
2. Your “Breaking News” is from 60 days (or more) ago. This is like walking up to a store that has been closed down for two weeks. Nothing is breaking here, and subconsciously it appears you business has been inactive. You don’t need to post news every week – if you can that is great – but at least be sure that there is something recent from the current month.
3. Your About Us page has very little to do about YOU, or does not exist. Statistics from our clients show the About Us page is consistently in the Top 3 Most Popular Web Pages; clearly it is important for many visitors to be able to read about you. If you need to hold select information back because you’re a small shop or in small city then tell as much as you can. There are also alternative ways to create a bio that satisfies the reader’s needs, without offering up what may be a competitive weakness.
4. Your website looks like the New York Times and has links, pictures, and content boxes all over the homepage. The New York Times is expected to be busy. People are prepared to see what is going on in the world when they type in the NYT’s web address, but for your company they might see it as info overload. Check out SAS.com. If your site is busier or has more links, chances are you have too many. If you have an alternate example to SAS.com, please post in a comment below.
5. Your content is boring and has blocks and blocks of paragraphs. There is always a way to improve content for the reader so they can scan it and find what they want.
- Use bullets to help break up points. Moderation is key, don’t bullet everything, or try to make a list out of nothing
- # 2 – Use numbers and hierarchy. 1-10 or reversed like Letterman does 10-1 are up to you
- Italics and bolding draw the eyes to important points. But try to use it sparingly, otherwise nothing stands out – again moderation
- Center your text for a paraphrase or something else of importance.
- An original picture which relates to what someone is reading can be a relaxing focal point for the eyes. They can take a break from all the pressure of text and stare at the picture for two seconds, holding engagement to your content and spending more time on your website.
When writing content begin with the most important fact(s) and use the Inverted Pyramid. Keep it concise which means you may need to read it 3 or 4 times to trim down what is unnecessary (admittedly, sometimes I read it only twice), and keep it easy to read but not at a 4th grade reading level.
6. Hiding your contact information. We have no empirical data to prove this to be significant, but in discussions with other web professionals we all agree, don’t hide your contact information. This harms credibility and overall just frustrates the heck out of the user.
7. Lots of colors. Colors are not wonderful all over a website and reduce functionality. Having a neutral color for space is relaxes the eyes and improves functionality. Neutral can be white, or any color in the spectrum of grays, and in some cases, black. Colors can contrast and clash, so it is important for design, but also to give the reader space and comfort.
While this is just a short list to be aware of, there are others. Feel free to post a question or share your opinion below!