My good friend Sharon Roberts has been teaching contractors how to sell to women for more than twenty years.   This petite, outspoken Texan starts most presentations to a room full of men the same way.  She says:

When you got out of bed this morning, I am pretty sure it wasn’t your goal to piss off a woman, but I am pretty sure by the end of the day, you did.

While this always gets a laugh, it also makes everyone a little uncomfortable, as they realize it is probably true.  As and Indianapolis web design we evaluate small business websites.  We know, it wasn’t the intention of whomever designed the website to annoy visitors, but they accomplished that goal, none the less.

What have they done to turn site visitors off with web design?  Here is a list of the ten biggest mistakes we see.

  1. Confusing Navigation – Do you make it difficult for people to find information?  Often we see confusing site architecture, or clever page titles, which don’t mean anything to the average visitor.  I made that mistake on the first roundpeg website.  The pages all rhymed:  Create, Generate, Colloaborate.. etc.  People left, never knowing that we did graphic design, brainstorming strategy sessions and team building.
  2. Hard to find contact information – I read somewhere that the number one reason people come to your website is to find your contact information.  Is your phone number visible on the home page? Is the CONTACT US button easy to find?
  3. Copy that talks about You not Me.   I know it is your website, but before I care about your years in business, mission statement, and return policy, I want to know – Can you solve my problem?
  4. Technical jargon – If I knew what HSPF, SEER, AFUE, VSP, SEO … all stood for, would I really need you?
  5. Graduate level text – This is a hard one for many people to get over.   On the one hand you want to sound smart.  On the other hand you want people to actually read your content.  Remember even the NY Times is written at an 8th grade level.   Why?  It is done to make it easy for people to digest the information quickly.
  6. Irritating flash animations, auto play videos and audio tracks – They are cute, clever and you spent a fortune to create them.  I get it.  But the third or fourth time I come back, I want to skip past them.  And if I am viewing it on an iPhone, I can’t see them anyway.  Also in this category: popups, pop unders and pop overs, which block my view of the very information I came to find.
  7. Slow loading pictures – Did you forget to convert those high resolution images to small, quick loading GIFs?  By the time the image has loaded I have made a snack, gone for a walk or found someone else to do what you do.
  8. Too much, too much, too much – Pages with too much text or too many graphics can be a bit overwhelming.  Search engines may love the content, but people will be turned off and leave.  Don’t be afraid to break the content up with a link to another page.  If people don’t follow the link you have not made a compelling case for the follow.
  9. Unreadable text on dark backgrounds – I know I am old and I can’t read lots of things without my glasses, but even people much younger then me have a hard time with small white text on a black background.  It may look cool and edgy, but if you want people to be able to read your site,  pay attention to readability
  10. Broken Links: Whether you mean to take the visitor to another page on your site, or elsewhere on the internet, make sure the links work.  There is nothing more frustrating to a visitor then a “page not found” error.

I know I only promised ten, but the list kept getting longer, and this one was too important to leave off:

  1. Ugly and outdated design – Like walking into a dirty restaurant, it is hard to have confidence that a company has kept their skills fresh when their site looks like it was designed more than five years ago.  Also in this category, last update more than 30 days ago.  If you are not updating regularly, don’t admit it on the home page.

As an  Indianapolis web design firm, these  are some of the most common web design mistakes we see, what would you add?


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