Monday, October 27, 2008

Top 5 Mistakes that May Drive Your Visitors Away in Less Than 2 Minutes

You took the leap. You set up a website to display your importantmessage. Congratulations! As in life, first impressions are importanton the web. Web researchers found that you have about 2 minutes tomake that first impression a good one. Visitors will judge your sitein those few seconds on its professionalism and appropriateness towhat they are looking for.

In fact, a website can lose about one-third of its potentialcustomers due to poor design, according to a recent user studyconducted by Jakob Nielson, Ph.D., a principal of the Fremont Calif.-based Nielson Norman Group.

Take a long hard look at your site. Or ask a friend to give you abrutally honest review of your site. Does it pass the test ofprofessionalism? Are the graphics of good quality and clear? Is theformatting, font size and font colors consistent throughout the site?Or does your site commit design mistakes that speak AMATEUR as soonas it loads?

There are some common mistakes website owners make that may causevisitors to leave early. Correct these top 5 mistakes to make sureyour visitors stay long enough to read your important message:

Mistake #1 They use large, squeezed or out of portion graphics.

Beginning website owners mistakenly post large graphics that seemlike a good idea but usually will bloat the website. Large graphicswill slow your page load and turn away impatient web surfers beforethey have a chance to read your message. Even so, do use them forgraphics and photos help illustrate your communication and sellonline.

Solution: Use optimized, web-ready photos and graphics. Web WitTip: If a larger image is needed to help illustrate your message, adda link that says, "Click here to see larger image." That way largeimages that slow your page load will only be displayed by people whoreally need to see a larger image.

Mistake #2 They use distracting elements that blink, bounce, scrollor turn circles.

Most novice websters are sure this will get the attention of theirvisitors. It's true visitors may enjoy the cutesy elements or flashpresentations. But they may never focus on your important message aswell. Unless the flash empowers your presentation, use the adage"Less is More."

Solution: Limit or eliminate any distracting elements from yourwebsite.

Mistake #3 They use too many different formatting styles

Unless your formatting is consistent throughout your site, it willspell UNPROFESSIONAL to its visitors and may cause them to leaveearly. Inexperienced site owners change formatting with too manydifferent size, colors and styles of fonts throughout the site. Theycreate text blocks that are out of alignment.

Solution: Use a consistent style and size of text throughoutwebsite. CSS style sheets are helpful. Learn basic HTML and exploreCSS style sheets; it will improve your command of webbing for profit.

Mistake#4 They use colored backgrounds and graphics that make textillegible

Some colored backgrounds, graphics or textures make it difficult toread the type on a web page. Anything that hinders the readability ofyour message may cause visitors to give up and leave quickly.

Solution: Choose colors that will enhance readability of your site'smessage. Light backgrounds with dark text improves readability ofyour text every time.

Mistake#5 They use mismatched graphics that are inappropriate forthe content of the site.

Unseasoned site owners will sometimes use graphics or photos that donothing to help illustrate their message. For example, they choosecutesy stars and flowers on a site selling accounting services. Lookfor clipart and photos that will support your important message.

Solution: Select graphics or design elements that will harmonize andillustrate your site's message. Web Wit Tip: For non-techies like theauthor invest in inexpensive clipart/photo sets that will enhance andhelp illustrate your communications. Additionally, unless you aretraining to become a graphic artist look for graphic programs withtemplates to shorten your learning curve.

First impressions are important on the web. Follow the simple designtechniques above and stop turning your visitors away at the door. Useyour first few seconds to impress your visitors with simple designthat delivers your powerful message effectively.

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