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Web Design - 5 Common Mistakes
by Susan Londell, SML® Design, LLC

Over the years while doing web research, I’ve come across web sites which were poorly designed. Some of these sites had problems ranging from unclear text, ugly graphics to poor navigation and more.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, and this is a very big reason I like to tell my customers that each site has a life of its own. Just because one thing works on one site doesn’t mean it will work on another. Each web site needs to be designed for that business specifically.

Having said that, I’d like to give you a list of 5 common mistakes on business web sites:

1. Designing your web site for your needs, rather than your visitors needs

This is sometimes a hard concept for people to understand. I tell my customers "Your web site should not be about what you do, but rather what you can offer to your visitors".

People are coming to your web site for a reason. They are looking for information, they want to purchase an item, maybe to make a donation or just for entertainment. The point is, is that if you don’t solve their problem, then they will be off your web site and visiting a competitor who may offer what they are searching for.

Once you have come up with text for a page, sit back and read it again. This time while reading it ask yourself, "What problems does this page solve?" Then, remember that the whole purpose of your putting up your web site is to help your visitors. If your visitors feel they have found what they are looking for, then guess what…you’ve made a new customer.

2. What is this site about?

Have you ever visited a web site, read what is on the main page and had no idea what they were talking about? When someone visits your web site you need to make sure that the information on the home page is short (but not too short), sweet and to the point. People need to read and understand what the site is about within 7 or 10 seconds. If not, then they will lose interest very quickly and move on to your competitor’s web site. Remember…short, sweet and to the point.

3. Navigation

I can not stress enough that navigation is the most important aspect about your web site. Without proper navigation your visitors will become lost within your site. They will find it difficult to find what they are looking for or they may not know where they are going, and worse, they may not know how to get back to where they just came from.

Navigation needs to be simple and consistent on all pages. Even if you feel that it is easy to use, it may not be for someone else. So, you need to step back and look at it as though you were the visitor. Have a friend or several friends check it out and see what they think.

4. Too much material on one page

Some people feel they must add more to a web page for fear of losing a sale. Having too much material on a page is just as bad as not having enough. People are sometimes impatient, they do not want to read too much or wait too long for multiple graphics to load. If they do, then they will either become confused by having to process too much information at one time or become frustrated that the page isn’t loading fast enough. Either way, you would have lost the sale you were fearing you’d lose in the first place.

5. Thinking your web site is your magic bullet

This is another big one, too often people think they will put up a web site and the next night they will be millionaires. It doesn’t work that way. People will not flock to you just because you have a web site Your web site shouldn’t be your only marketing strategy, but rather part of your marketing strategy. As part of your marketing program you should put your web site address on advertisements, onletterhead, envelopes, business cards, on your company vehicle or store front…see what I mean, part of your program.

Let’s face it, having a web site takes hard work and dedication. Take your time when gathering your material. Seek the advice or suggestions from family, friends or co-workers and you’ll be well on your way to a successful web site.

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