It is a daunting prospect to create a quality website. It is, however, surprisingly easy to make a terrible website. Based on some highly unscientific research — and a little of my own opinion — here are eight ways to guarantee a terrible and less effective website. And a few hints on how to keep that from happening.
Hands down, the most hated website feature is any audio or video that plays automatically. It’s a relic of a bygone web design era, and a feature I’m surprised has hung around as long as it has. It is the primary reason my laptop is constantly on mute. Most web users have multiple browser tabs open at a given time and a website with automatic audio is just going to frustrate them because they’ll have to search through their tabs to figure out which website is making the noise. Or, if they’re browsing at work, it could cause them some serious grief.
It’s not hard to just leave it up to users whether or not to play your audio or video. I’d wager that 90 percent of the time, users will listen to your audio or watch your video, so long as its playing is up to them. But, if you don’t let users decide to play or not to play, 90 percent of the time they will leave your site unwatched, unheard, and unviewed.
Lack of contact information
This one tops my list of website pet peeves. Why would you build a website for your business and not include a way to contact your business? It’s like opening a brick-and-mortar store, but never being open during business hours. Stupid.
Do the phone averse a favor, as well. Don’t just include a phone number. Be sure to build a contact form. It doesn’t have to be complex; fields for name, email address, and message are more than sufficient. Don’t make your users hunt for how to get in touch. If you do, chances are, they won’t.
Too much text
More specifically, too much text without breaking it up in some way. Web users know to expect large blocks of text in blog posts; that doesn’t mean they want to see a page full of text with no visual breaks. You don’t have to use images to break up your text. A well-placed sub-heading or even white space can work just as well.
The truth is that the web-using public no longer has the attention span to read a whole block of text. We are a world of skimmers. With constant information coming at us from our televisions, our phones, our tablets, our smartwatches, and our home management devices, we have been conditioned to expect information in quick, short bursts. We no longer have the interest or even the capacity to take in a significant volume of information at once.
Large blocks of texts without any kind of visual break will intimidate users and send them running from your website.
Typos and grammatical errors
There is no excuse. No excuse whatsoever to have a website full of misspellings, typographical errors, and grammatical mistakes. With native spellcheckers and apps like Grammarly, we have the technology literally at our fingertips to keep our content looking professional. If you’re not confident in your writing, even with those technological assists, consider hiring someone to proofread your content before it goes live. Or hire a copywriter to write your content for you. In entrepreneurship, half the battle is appearing professional. Properly written content is a necessary weapon in your arsenal.
That menu bar that runs across the top of each of your webpages? It’s like a map to your website. If it’s disorganized, your website visitors have no hope of finding their way around. If they have no hope of finding their way, I guarantee they won’t stick around long. Utilize submenus, drop downs, and fly outs to organize your website’s navigation. Group like pages under the same navigation heading. You don’t need a direct link to every single page in your site’s navigation. It is perfectly okay to have some less important pages linked in your footer menu or elsewhere on the site. Keep your primary navigation uncluttered and easy to understand. Your users will thank you.
There are thousands upon thousands of typefaces out there for use in various design projects, but some of them simply aren’t suited for the screen. I know that, sometimes, we get attached to a particular typeface and we want to use it everywhere. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust to take a look and tell you if it’s readable. If they say they have a hard time reading your text, believe them the first time. Make sure it’s also readable on mobile devices, which brings us to the next tip for making your website terrible.
Lack of mobile responsiveness
Again, there is no excuse to have a website that isn’t viewable on mobile devices like phones or tablets. If you’re using WordPress, you can easily find free and affordable WordPress themes that are mobile responsive. You couldn’t not find a mobile responsive theme if you tried. According to statistics released in 2016, as much as 56 percent of the traffic to top websites comes is driven by mobile devices. You absolutely cannot afford to not have a website that works as well on mobile devices as it does on desktop.
Using pop-ups for your opt-ins is actually pretty effective, but you’ve got to use them correctly. The biggest complaints regarding pop-ups:
- Size — Users don’t want a pop-up that takes up the entire screen. They came to your website to look at your website, so let them.
- Timing — Don’t throw a pop-up in users’ faces the second they land on your site. How do they know if they’re interested in your offer if you don’t give them a chance to see what you’re all about?
- Frequency — It’s unnecessary to have pop-ups opening every few seconds or repeating on every page. It’s more effective and less annoying to integrate your opt-ins and offers into the content of your website.
People decide how they feel about your website in as little as three seconds. That’s roughly the equivalent of one blink. You should be doing everything in your power to ensure they stick around after those three seconds. It is way too easy to think you’re doing the right thing for your website and totally screw it up, especially if you’re going the DIY route. Hiring a professional is the best way to avoid these faux pas and it’s a solid investment in your business and yourself.