When was the last time you visited a Web site and asked yourself what you were doing there — and in that moment wondered if it wouldn’t be a better idea to go watch a YouTube video instead... or check your email... or do anything besides stay on that Web site?
Now imagine someone else was that person looking at a Web site and getting confused... or frustrated... or bored out of their skull.
And now, suppose the Web site someone else was looking at... happened to be your Web site.
Ouch! Someone having that reaction about your Web site?
But that’s exactly what’s going to happen, if you don’t steer clear of these Seven Deadly Web Site Sins:
Deadly Web Site Sin #1: Putting a large, confusing, moving, obscure logo at the top of your home page
I found a technical services firm’s site with the image of a spinning, transparent globe on a pedestal connected by spokes radiating outwards, to gadgets -- odd shapes that looked something like people, and other ones that looked like laptop computers.
I’m sure that mysterious logo meant something deep and important to the person who designed it, and possibly even to the owners of the company. But it sure as hell didn’t mean anything to me... and I bet other prospects felt the same way, if they bothered to think about it... which most prospects won’t even do at all.
Don’t fall into the “clever, abstract logo” trap. It’ll make people click away from your site. Instead, put an image up that clearly conveys a message about the end result that your business delivers... that customers want. A logo like that will make them want to find out more about you.
Deadly Web Site Sin #2: Having a landing page that takes forever to load (or, anything longer than a microsecond)
Your Web designer can make you or break you. Go for the first option. One way your designer can make you (as in, “make you lots of money”) is by providing you a great- looking page that loads fast.
Web pages that load slow are so Web 1.0.
And people you thought were going to be visitors to those pages are so... gone.
Deadly Web Site Sin #3: Using a “Splatter Home Page”
Let’s say you were to put a bunch of pictures and ideas in the blender, and turn it on “high” — without managing to put the cover on top of the blender first.
What you would have stuck on your kitchen ceiling would look an awful lot like a “Splatter Home Page” (many of which actually exist in great numbers, destroying conversion for businesses everywhere). These pages consist of images and ideas splattered up on the Web randomly, with no apparent rhyme or reason.
If you have noticed a lot of people shrugging their shoulders or furrowing their brows when they look at your site, this might be your problem. To fix it, either you need to learn more about reader-friendly design — or find someone who does.
Deadly Web Site Sin #4: Mistaking the Site for Your Own Personal Vanity Mirror
Hey, cupcake, here’s some breaking news: If your Web site is all about you, all about your company...
... but it gives short shrift to things like:
- your customers
- what’s on your customers’ minds
- what your product or service will do for your customers
- how your company is set up to make doing business more convenient
... so if your site is sorely deficient in things like that...
well, don’t worry how your totally self-centered focus will affect your customers.
Because you won’t have any.
Deadly Web Site Sin #5: Having a Stupid Slogan
It’s possible to have a successful business if the tag line of your business is full of empty words that add up to nothing — or, for that matter, words that could mean just about anything — but if you want to sell to new prospects with words on the Web, you’d better use words that ring a bell with your prospects and customers.
Here’s the kind of thing that doesn’t do that.
It’s typical, and it produces yawns, head-scratching, and the predictable response of “close browser window”:
Anticipating and Facilitating Organizational Improvement Since 1987
From a business consulting firm’s home page.
(Words changed ever so slightly to protect the guilty.)
Deadly Web Site Sin #6: Be Hard to Read and Painful to Look At
You might be surprised that an Ivy League Art School has such a horrendous site — but it does:
I found out about this awful home page is from the 2010 edition Web Pages That Suck. A year later, the page hasn’t changed much, except it’s less colorful. When I looked at the May 2011 version, it hurt my eyes to watch the flashing lights.
Maybe this will work for an art school trying desperately to appear cool, but it won’t work for a site that has to pay for itself. Your site needs to be easy to look at, not painful!
Deadly Web Site Sin #7: Setting Up A Venus Flytrap Lead Capture
Remember Ned Ryerson, the insurance salesman from hell in the movie “Groundhog Day? ” The kind of guy who gives high-pressure salespeople everywhere a bad name?
Ned’s biggest problem, seems to me, was that he started closing the sale (or trying to) before he ever established rapport, qualified his prospect, or demonstrated so much as a scintilla of value.
In a word, it made him obnoxious.
The Venus Flytrap is a flower that snaps shut on spiders and insects when they touch two of its delicate hairs within a 20-second timespan. The flora version of Ned Ryserson.
The Web site version of Ned is the site that demands your contact information before it has said, “Hi... hello... how are you... what are you looking for?... here’s a little taste of what we offer. ”
One kinda sad example I found was for a trade school’s Web site. As soon as you get there, in the upper right-hand corner, a huge window pops up saying “FIND OUT MORE TODAY” and immediately asks for your email address, or to call an 800 number.
Uh... no thanks.
The Biggest Secret to Keep Your Web Site from Tanking
As with many things in life, making your Web site work does not require black magic, the strength of Hercules, or more money than Bernie Madoff was hoarding at his peak.
All it takes is a little common sense.
If someone is looking to buy what you sell when they come to your Web site, what could possibly go wrong?
Make a list of all the problems that could come up. (See the 7 Deadly Sins list, above, for help with your list of problems.)
Then... just go fix them.
Co-Founder, Fast Effective Copy