There are plenty of ways to make a mess of your website, the six methods we explain here are just some of the easiest to avoid that will ordinarily contribute to ruining the user experience for your visitors, increase your bounce rates and make sure you get very few returning visitors.
1 – Random colour palette
With all the free website colour tools available there is no excuse not to have a consistent and pre-planned colour palette throughout your website. Even subtle differences such as a slightly lighter blue in the .gif logo than you used in your <H1> tag can create a sense that something is off and be uncomfortable to look at.
Aesthetically pleasing, easier to read, more professional, clear branding… there are dozens of reasons why you should maintain a consistent colour scheme and only one why you shouldn’t; laziness.
2 – Link to pages that don’t exist
Pages can come and go but it is important that your internal navigation reflects this. Linking to a 404 looks unprofessional and is a sure fire tactic to losing that visitor. To avoid this set up a 404 redirect to a special error page. Avoid redirecting to your home page as the visitor will not know there was an error, only that he’s not where he thought he would be.
Create a .htaccess file (using that exact name) and put it in your root directory with something along the lines of…
ErrorDocument 404 /404.html
3 – Don’t check it is compatible across the browsers
The days of designing a website with one or even two browsers in mind is long gone, and even with the movement to kill off IE6, that still leaves IE8, FF3, Chrome, Safari and Opera to think about. If your site breaks in Opera because of the 1,000 visits you get per month ‘only’ 5% of those are using Opera, that is still 50 visitors per month, and if you have a conversion rate of 10%, that’s a potential 5 sales you have missed out on. Designm.ag has a great list of resources for cross browser testing here http://designm.ag/resources/cross-browser-testing/
4 – Intrusive advertising
Too many adverts on the page, pop-ups and pop-unders, and adverts that illicit an epileptic fit no longer have any place on any website. Advanced internet users certainly won’t put up with it and will be quite vocal about it but the more casual internet users are passively annoyed by it too. Integrated text links and clean banners near the content both increase visibility and click through rates without impacting on user experience.
5 – SEO takes priority over your visitors
In all honesty, an unnatural over use of keywords can help a site’s ranking in the search engines. The paragraph below is taken from a real site but with the keyword they are targeting replaced and highlighted with the word ‘Hosting’.
“Hosting services are offered by most hosting providers and are an affordable way for most users to get started with hosting services. Hosting services are the cheapest form of hosting available and it is important to remember that a premium hosting service is always going to be more expensive than a regularhosting service.”
The search engines clearly love it, but a human being and potential customer it’s just plain odd, tells me very little and is boring to read. It’s not going to convert me. Use of keywords is absolutely vital to be ranked high in the search engines, but using them in your title, a couple of times in the content, and in some anchor text is enough. SEOMoz’s SEO guide for beginners offers some basic tips for writing search friendly text: http://www.seomoz.org/article/bg4#4c
6 – Irregular navigation from one page to another
People don’t want to be made to work out how to navigate your site. They want clear consistent navigation that allows them to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Navigation on the “home page” running along the header suddenly snapping to the left on the “about us” page and then back again in the product pages is going to confuse, frustrate and anger your visitors and drive them away pretty quickly.