The Top 10 Site Design Mistakes: Why Make It Harder to Make the Sale
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It takes time and money to get site visitors to your web site. It takes time and money to keep visitors on site. In fact, studies show that visitors give you less than 10 seconds for them to decide whether to stay on your web site, explore and (hopefully) buy or perform the most desired action (MDA), like opting in for a free newsletter.
Yet, many site owners – especially site owners who design their own sites – throw a number of stumbling blocks in the path of the visitor on the way to performing the MDA. What kind of stumbling blocks?
There are lots of them but here’s a list of our top 10 web site design goofs – mistakes you can avoid. BTW, if your web site contains any of these road blocks, time to reconsider the design of your web site, and maybe even call in an expert in search engine optimization, conversion and ecommerce in general.
In the mean time, here are 10 mistakes guaranteed to slow the growth of your web business from least critical to most critical.
10. Flyouts or drop down menus that cover site text.
A dropdown or flyout sub-menu appears when a visitor clicks on certain navigation links. Often, these sub-menus actually cover critical sales text that visitors want to read – your sales pitch.
Why in the world would you block sales copy when you can position drop down or flyout submenus to appear against a clear background? It’s just an ill-conceived design flaw, but one you can fix quickly by creating sub-menus that don’t block critical information – like your toll-free telephone number.
Annoying to visitors, but very simple to fix. So fix it. Or avoid it in your initial design.
9. Limited payment gateways.
A lot of new web site owners only offer a single means of making payment. It might be PayPal or Google Checkout, for example. Well, a lot of people don’t have PayPal accounts. Further, by limiting the number of payment gateways available, you often send visitors off your own web site to the PayPal site. And who knows how many will ever come back?
The more payment gateways you provide, the more orders you’ll receive. Get a merchant account that enables visitors to conduct all of their business on your web site. Offer PayPal, Checkout and other payment gateways as well.
Offer more payment options to see more payments.
Spamglish is text written for search engine bots. It contains tons of keywords to better enable bots (very dumb) to identify what the site is about.
Here’s the thing: a search engine bot never bought a thing – EVER! And keyword stuffing is considered a negative ranking factor with search engines. Keep your keyword density below 5%, meaning that for every 100 words of site text, 5 of those words are keywords.
Write your text for humans, not for bots. Humans buy. Bots don’t. Simple.
7. Key site information appears in graphics.
Search engine bots can’t read graphics – anything with a graphics extension like jpg, gif or other non-text format.
Avoid placing critical information in a graphic. If you do use graphics on site to catch the eye of human visitors, add an <alt> tag that describes the information that appears in the graphic. The alt tag contains a text description of what appears in the graphic, helping bots determine what information appears in all of those eye-grabbing Flash animations and other non-text files.
6. No telephone number.
Once you have a prospect on site, how easy is it for him or her to reach you? Many buyers have questions and want answers before performing the most desired action.
Sure, you can provide an email address, but at least some visitors are ready to pull the trigger and buy right then and there.
A telephone number, especially a toll-free telephone number, will boost the number of people who reach out to you and make contact. And once you have them on the phone, you’re more than half-way to closing that sale.
Make it easy for visitors to talk to a human. Oh, and avoid the obstacle of an automated answering system. Have a real human being answer the phone. Your prospects will love it and the cost will more than be covered by an increase in sales.
5. Confusing navigation.
The navigation bar should be large, clearly labeled and appear in the same place on every page of your web site.
If you offer a number of products or services, consider using a column of links instead of a navigation bar. Again, use the left or right column throughout the site.
Also, avoid secondary navigation bars on interior pages. These are often overlooked by site visitors who expect all navigation to appear either in a bar or column format.
If you’re resorting to navigation bars or columns that change from page to page, reconsider the design of your site. A confused site visitor is a gone site visitor.
4. No site map.
A link to a site map simplifies the visitors’ search, taking them to the exact information they’re looking for. Why make visitors hunt for the right information? Keep things simple by adding a site map that’s linked to each page or zone within your web site. This way, the visitor gets where she wants to go quickly…
…and you’ve pulled that visitor deeper into your web site – a good thing.
3. Stale content.
Fresh content, like a blog, an RSS feed or green, informational articles (like this one) keep visitors coming back. Green content also makes bots happy, moving your web site up on the SERPs.
Avoid duplicate content – the articles available through web sites like ezine.com or helium.com. These articles have been downloaded dozens of times and may appear on hundreds of web sites. Search engines slam sites for duplicate content because it doesn’t provide new information for search engine users.
Keep it fresh and keep them coming back.
2. The long-form sales letter.
You know those endless sales letters hyping this or that eBook or course of study?
They employ multiple type fonts, bogus testimonials, endless “bonuses,” a PS, a PPS and even a PPPS. These are called Glazier-Kennedy long-form sales letters and most of them are insulting to the intelligence of a chimp.
You’ve seen them, no doubt. Well, this type of sales hype may have worked 10 years ago but most of us recognize hype when we see it.
Instead, provide good, solid information, short product descriptions and useful facts about products and services. These long form sales letters are designed to meet the needs of the site owner, NOT to meet the needs of site visitors.
Focus you site text on meeting visitor needs and for goodness sake, organize your content to avoid the need for a PS, a PPS AND a PPPS. People aren’t stupid.
1. Home page opt ins.
Opt-in modules are used to capture email addresses and site visitors know it. They also know that, once they give you their email address, you’re going to back sell them to the grave.
Of all the stumbling blocks you can put in the way of the performance of the MDA, an opt-in box on your home page is the worst. Visitors want to know what they’re opting in for and is it worth the spam that’s sure to end up in their email in-boxes.
Use opt-ins but place them deeper in the site so visitors at least have a chance to explore your products or services. The best place to put your opt-in module is on the “Contact Us” page that includes all of your contact information. This gives visitors a taste of the quality you provide and you’re more likely to see more opt ins – individuals you can contact regularly with email auto-responders and, hopefully, convince some site visitors to buy what you’re selling.
There are lots of ways to create a well-designed web site but there are even more ways to create a site that lowers your chances of having visitors perform the MDA.
Keep the visitor in mind at all times. Provide free, useful information and cut down on the hype.
It takes time, effort and marketing dollars to get visitors to your web site. Don’t scare them away by making design goofs.
That’s one key to creating web-based success – and isn’t that your MDA?
It sure should be.