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Web Design Mistakes You Should Avoid On Business Sites

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Top 10 Deadly Web Site Design Mistakes

You need three things to succeed on the Internet:

  1. A winning product or service

  2. Traffic

  3. A web site that sells

If you don't have a good product or service that people want, don't waste your time on anything else. Go develop or look for one.

Traffic is the key. No traffic, no sales. You should spend at least 80% of  your time on promotion once your online business is up and running.

On the other hand, you can spend every waking moment promoting your site, but if it's not a well designed site to begin with, you're fighting a losing battle.

What should you do to develop a "good" site then? Well, it's probably easier to tell you what you should not do. In this article, I'll discuss basic web site design mistakes, not sales copy writing, not credibility building, but basic flaws in the planning and execution of the site itself.

These top 10 web site design mistakes can easily kill your online business yet we see them everywhere on the Internet. No wonder 95% of online businesses are not making any profits! Want to make yours in the top 5%? By all means avoid these:

Web Site Design Mistakes #1: Taking Forever To Download

You land on a site, and wait for minutes for the site to fully load. You see pieces of graphics appearing here and there. Or worse, you stare at a blank screen wondering what's happening. Finally, 2 minutes later, the whole page and each of the graphics is downloaded.

My question is, are you really still there 2 minutes later?

You may have a site that provides the best content and the most beautiful graphics in the world, but if it takes forever to download no one will hang around long enough to view it. The longer it takes your site to download, the fewer visitors will ever view it.

You can see this mistake everywhere, especially at big corporate sites made by graphic designers from larger web site design companies that have high-speed connections to the Internet. These designers create wonderfully complex, large graphics or flash movies, and naturally desire to show them off. The whole thing looks great on their high-speed system, but for a home or office with a 56K dial-up modem - where your end users are - the graphics may take forever to download.

When visitors hit your site, they're looking for information, services, or products. For the most part, they are not interested in your new graphics at all. It's tempting to present a cool stunning graphic or flash movie to your visitors. But if they can't see it within 10 seconds, you are out. Your competitors are just a click away. There's simply no reason why any surfer is dying for any particular web site, including yours.

You have to carefully balance between image and download time. There is a happy medium where the site looks great and the file is small enough to download fairly quickly.

As a general rule, make the total graphics and text load for any single web page no more than 50K, preferably less. Even if you have no choice but to make your site a big flash movie, it is possible to start playing within 3 seconds - if your designers know how to do it right.

Keep in mind, don't just add something because it looks cool. It must serve an important purpose or it should be deleted. 

Web Site Design Mistakes #2: Hide Your Product Or Service Deep Inside

Have you ever been to sites where you would see something like this: "ReallyCool company was formed in 1998. Our state-of-art technology helps our customers achieve higher productivity and better quality at easily affordable cost. With our one-stop solution, any business can..."

Sounds good and standard. But after reading all these nonsense, you are still wondering what the hell the company does?

You'd be amazed at the number of sites that don't tell you exactly right at the beginning what kind of business they're in. You look at the home page and maybe scan an "About Us" page, end up with a mission statement telling you nothing useful.

Don't make your visitors search for your products or services. Just tell them plainly right at the top of home page. If your visitors have to figure out what products or services you offer, the chances are, they won't.

Visitors can not care less about your company history, board of directors, your business philosophy... What we want to know is, what's in it for me? What can you do for me? Tell me straight, as soon as possible, in simple words.

Web Site Design Mistakes #3: Wrong Color Scheme

There is nothing more frustrating than going to a site that you feel will be exactly what you're looking for, only to find that the information is unreadable due to poor background and text color choices.

For any business site, white or off-white is usually the best background for text readability and to make graphics pop out. Keep it simple and traditional here: black on white. Simpler is better for both readability as well as download time.

Designers sometimes reverse colors, using dark backgrounds with light letters. While dramatic, light on dark is harder to read. If you do choose to stray from black on white, make sure that there is enough contrast between your text and background colors so that your visitors will not have trouble reading your content.

And don't make your site too colorful. Choose 2 or 3 colors that match your logo or graphics and stick to the same color scheme on every page.

Web Site Design Mistakes #4: Frames

Netscape 2.0 introduced frames, and soon frames were the rage. Now most careful designers avoid them in nearly all circumstances.

In theory, they sound like a great tool while in practice, they are usually confusing at the best and harmful sometimes. Yes, frames could provide a very convenient navigation system for a site, but most of the time they don't.

Frames tend to cut up the screen into windows that require excessive scrolling to read the text.

Frames that require ugly gray scroll-bars, look, well ... ugly.

Frames do not always print out correctly on some browsers.

Frames cannot be bookmarked easily.

The worst thing is, search engine spiders don't like frames either.

Use frames only if you know what you are doing.

Web Site Design Mistakes #5: Inconsistent Layout

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