Technology / Website design

Business website mistakes: Ten things to avoid

The internet changes at a rapid pace, and many features that were once regarded as best practice have now fallen out of favour. Here are some common business website mistakes.

10 October 2010 by

Outlined below are some business website mistakes that in my experience will decrease, rather than increase, your website’s chance of success. Use them at your peril!

  1. Splash pages: Remember when almost every website made you view an image or animation before you got to enter the site? These splash pages frustrate users and significantly decrease website conversions. In almost every case, a splash page is a terrible idea.
  2. Large amounts of Flash: Flash can add visual impact to your site, but this needs to be balanced with the fact that it’s not properly indexed by search engines, cannot be viewed on mobile devices including iPhones or iPads, and can be slow to download. If there’s important information you want every visitor to your site to see, never use Flash to display it.
  3. Bulky images: Not everyone has a great internet connection or a huge screen. Keep your image sizes small to ensure the majority of people can enjoy your website.
  4. Using graphics for site navigation: If you are serious about search engine optimisation (SEO) your main site navigation should be text-based rather than graphics-based.

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  1. Too much animation: Movement attracts the eye but can make reading difficult. Don’t let too much movement prevent your visitors from understanding your message.
  2. Cutting-edge technology: Avoid technology that requires users to download special software or acquire new skills. Often, they’ll do neither, and your website will be less effective.
  3. Being unique: Your product, design and content can be unique. Your site navigation and the way people use your website should not be. Stick to established website conventions because confusing people will affect the success of your website.
  4. Tricks to fool search engines: It can be tempting to bend the rules and artificially manipulate a search engine’s view of your site. However, any short-term gains will likely be more than offset if you get caught and your domain is demoted, or worse still, removed from Google altogether.
  5. Background music: Making an impact with your website is a good thing. Annoying your users, embarrassing them at work or severely slowing down the browsing of your website is not. Very few websites benefit from background music or audio that launches automatically.
  6. Pop-up windows: No-one likes websites that create automatic pop-up windows. While there is a chance that pop-ups might convert some site visitors you need to balance this with the larger number of people who’ll be annoyed and driven away.

While I begrudgingly admit that there may be some items in the list above that have a role to play for some websites, the exceptions to these rules are few and far between.

"While there is a chance that pop-ups might convert some site visitors you need to balance this with the larger number of people who’ll be annoyed and driven away."

If your website contains any of the above it could be affecting your online success. Make today the day you take a fresh look at your site, and if you’re not already, start measuring website performance so you know what’s really working for you. And what’s a business website mistake!

Think splash pages are spiffy? Fanatical about Flash? State your case below.

David Lawrence

has been planning and building effective websites for business since 1997. He is one of the founders of The Web Showroom, a 100% Australian owned company that provides small businesses with an easy way to own a professional website.

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