Website No-No's: Conventional Wisdom from Web Professionals

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Website No-No's: Conventional Wisdom from Web Professionals

vCita works closely with web professionals all around the world. These professionals share best practices and we in turn, want to share them with you. The following tips may seem like no-brainers, but there are a bazillion sites out there violating these simple guidelines.

Ensure Each Page Brings Value. Seems simple enough, but you'd be surprised how many websites fail to offer something useful or interesting to the visitor. Step back and take a good, objective look at each web page. Study the content, the graphics. Ask yourself: What are you offering? Would you take time to read this page?

One rule of thumb is 75% editorial and 25% advertising or marketing. This ensures you are providing valuable content, not just pitching your product or service. We all channel surf or mute the volume  during TV commercials so why would anyone read through a web page if the main content is nothing more than a sales pitch?

Turn Off the Noise. Animation and sound is distracting. Who can possibly concentrate with a blinking graphic set to 70s rock 'n roll?  Or a video that loads automatically with sound? Visitors with slow connections may resent that you forced them to load animations and sound files. And, having a video start without warning could irritate a visitor, especially when located in a quiet cube farm.

According to one study, visitors greeted with blinking ads are more likely to leave the site immediately without clicking on anything. And, they are far less likely to bookmark the site, return, link to it or recommend it. Give your visitors a pleasant experience by eliminating the animation.

Minimize Clicking. Put as few clicks between your visitor and information as possible. The more you force your visitors to click thorugh your site, the more likely they will leave.  If they don't leave, they will probably be annoyed or not view your content—neither of these results are positive.

For example, advises to decide what the next step you want a new client to take after they learn about your services and focus on that. Then add additional pages and keep them to a minimum. Don't offer too many options as the visitor is likely to leave and you lose the chance to convert that visitor to a client.

Along these same lines, don't use splash pages (a page with no meaningful info on it that simply "welcomes" visitors to your site with an "enter here" button). You just got someone to visit your site and now you want them to knock to enter? Give the visitor what they want with a rich, meaningful home page. And make sure each page is around 400 words in length. Not too short. Not too long.

Homeward Bound. Always provide a way back to the home page. When a visitor gets lost, they want to go back to where they came—and the home page is square one. Also include a menu on every page so if they decide to travel on to a new page, they can do so easily and quickly.

Optimal Page Size. Most users have screens that are at least 1024x768 pixels. Some designers make their pages work at sizes as small as 770 pixels wide so not to offend less than 1% of users with 800x600 screens. This means 99% of users will have a less than optimal experience because of the 1%. The suggested width limit is 1200 pixels or less so it's not too wide (edge to edge) on big monitors.

Readability. This should be a no-brainer. We've said it before and we will say it again. Make the font readable, a decent size so visitors don't have to squint. Some web designers suggest 12 or 13 px Arial or 11 or 12 px Verdana. Regardless of the font you use, make sure it's easy to read.

And don't be afraid to add line spacing (also called leading) to improve readability. Leading is the amount of space around the type. One suggested leading percentage is 160%. Using the default leading can make your text look cramped, regardless of font size. To set the leading for a long block of text, put all of the text between div's. For example: <div style="font:12px/160%>(long block of text)</div>. You can then adjust the percentage up or down as desired.

For maximum reading comprehension, avoid using ALL CAPS. If it's a couple of words you want to attract attention, OK. But avoid sentences in ALL CAPS as you will completely lose any effect you were striving to achieve. ALL CAPS is more difficult to read and comprehension significantly lowers. Instead, try bolding words or changing the color or italicizing to attract attention. And along that same vein, don't underline anything unless it's a link. Visitors will click the word and may grow annoyed that it doesn't go anywhere. On the web, words that are underlined are links. Period,

Spell Check. Speel Chek. Spel Cheek. One misspelling can completely ruin your credibility. Spell check your content. Always. Your website it a reflection of your work, your service, your product, and typos indicate a lack of focus and poor quality. Don't let a typo here or there give the wrong impression or turn a potential client away. Spell check. Spell check. Spell check!

So how many of these no-no's are you guilty of? Most are quick fixes and will make your website more engaging to the visitor. After all, you spent time and energy on creating the site. Now you have driven visitors to your site, don't you want them to stay and choose you as the preferred business?

Capture that moment by transforming your website into a vCita LiveSite. A LiveSite offers a dynamic communications portal that empowers visitors to contact you 24/7—unencumbered by your 9 to 5 office hours. Clients can book an online appointment, schedule a call or send a message at their leisure, on their time, when it's convenient. And, since most web surfing for personal services or products is after work, vCita is perfect for any lifestyle, any client, any time, using any device. Try vCita and see for yourself. Get a 14-day trial for free.

You've put so much work into a great website, it's it time you make it work for you?

1 comment:

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