3 Things You Shouldn’t Put on Your Website
If you keep up with the Roundpeg blog, you’ll undoubtedly read many blog posts by my coworkers or myself about all the great things you should put on your website that will really make it shine, stand out, and become an effective piece of your marketing.
But, what about the things you shouldn’t put on your website? I want to go to the dark side today and talk not about the good things to put on your website, but the bad things that should never be on your website and make for bad web design – web design poison.
Visitors and potential customers can sniff out a bad website in moments, and if you have any of these elements on your site, you may very well be driving people away instead of bringing them in.
Obvious Stock Photography
People aren’t dumb. They can easily tell the difference between stock photography and original photography. Worst of all: people really don’t like stock photography all that much, especially ones with people in them. Why? It could be any number of things: the obviously fake and forced smiles, the bored eyes, the sterile setting or even the dumb things they are always doing with their hands.
Seriously, why are they always doing things with their hands?! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go scroll through stock photos of people in an office setting for 10 seconds and you’ll know what I mean. Tangent over.
Anyway, using stock photos is just lazy and disingenuous. It’s clear the photos aren’t your real employees and that isn’t your building. Whatever the case may be, avoid using stock photography whenever possible. If you ABSOLUTELY must, try to use them as sparingly as possible and avoid using faces at all costs.
Instead, invest in original photography for your website. Hire a professional to come out and get shots of your building, your team, and your work. Or, grab a camera and do it yourself. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get website-quality photography. Even if your pictures aren’t perfect, they will be genuine and less alienating than even the prettiest stock photo of random office workers high-fiving.
There’s a good chance your homepage is your introduction to visitors and potential customers and generally first impression. The last thing you want to do is turn them away at this juncture, before they even have a chance to reach out or learn more. But, the quickest way you can do that is by slapping them in the face with an intimidating homepage.
There’s something called the paradox of choice: if you give someone too many choices and/or too much information, they won’t know what to do with their options and end up doing nothing. If your homepage is loaded with paragraph upon paragraph of copy, a long navigation with a bounty of drop-downs and sub-navigation and a gazillion buttons, no one is going to stick around long enough to learn about you or what you do.
When it comes to the homepage of your website, K.I.S.S.
Good homepage copy should be brief and light, just enough to inform and tease your visitors. Save the meat of your copy for specialized interior landing pages where they can learn more if they are interested. As for the navigation, include only the essentials and avoid additional drop-downs as much as you can. While you may think it is helpful for people to go directly to deeper pages, it can also cause instant confusion.
As for buttons, you really never want to include more than 3 or 4 on your homepage. When you are designing your homepage, think of what you want visitors to do the most and include that as your primary call to action. At the end of the day, you should be doing your best to guide visitors through your site, not giving them full reign. People like choices, but they also like to have their hands held on occasion.
Unnecessarily Long Forms
Whether it is a contact page, a place to schedule a consultation or estimate, a white paper download, or a newsletter sign up, chances are you are going to have at least one form for collecting contact information from visitors on your website. That is an excellent idea.
However, people aren’t going to fill out any forms you might present them if they hate them. Want a list of things people hate? The wait at the BMV, CVS receipts, and the wait between NFL seasons. The common thread with all of these is that they are all way too long.
There is a compulsion on many contact forms for the creator to want to collect as much information as possible, sometimes listing upwards of 10 to 15 fields on a simple contact form. Even if you REALLY think it is necessary and you will find use for every single one of these fields, use restraint when creating your contact form.
I like to stick to 4 fields: First name, last name, email and phone number. Really, that is all you will likely need. Maybe an address or company name is helpful for your services, but in reality that information can wait until a follow-up call or email to get this information.
With every field you add to your contact form, your chances of it getting filled out at all drop. Long contact forms feel burdensome and intrusive, two things no one wants. Keep it short and keep it simple.