Your Website Hurts My Eyes: 7 Reasons to Tone Down Your Advertising

So you're on the computer, as usual. Your eyes are smarting. Your back hurts. You want to jump in the car and sail down the highway with all the windows down and your hair flapping in the wind. But before you call it quits for the day, you have to look up just one more thing. Maybe it's web marketing, maybe you want to buy some artwork to hang in your office. Off to Google you go.

You type in the magic words, whatever they are, and watch as a list of websites flows down the page. You click on the first one, and it's an instant assault on your eyeballs. Ten glaring banners, flashing like Vegas at midnight. One of those annoying hover ads that follows you as you scroll and won't let you read anything until you click the corner. Some sparkly things "snowing" down the page. Frantic messages screaming things like BUY NOW! LAST CHANCE! INSTANT SUCCESS CAN BE YOURS. A picture of a grinning guy who reminds you of your creepy Uncle Lester.

You click away. Not today, not any day. You don't care what that guy is selling or even if he's giving something away, because his presentation is god-awful. Just when you thought you'd escaped the mayhem, a sneaky little window pops up: "WHY DID YOU LEAVE THIS SITE? Please fill out this quick survey!" Are they kidding? You consider typing something offensive in the "Leave Your Comment" box, but figure it will only encourage someone to spam you with unwanted offers.

We're all familiar with this web-surfing experience. It's downright unpleasant. What's your opinion of someone who pitches their company in such a loud and desperate manner? Do you believe all of their pie-in-the-sky promises? Do they strike you as company run by people who are intelligent, honest and reliable? Are you going to whip out your credit card because they tell you to?

Of course you're not. Being the loudest, the brightest, the busiest and the boldest may attract attention, but it does not bring sales. That's something to remember when you're creating your own company website. What DOES attract and keep new customers coming back? A simple, tasteful web design. An easily navigable site. Copy that's crisp, clean, and interesting.

Here are 7 reasons to tone down your advertising:

1. Flash is just too flashy. A flash presentation can be creative and unique, but is it really needed for what you offer? Will that kooky winking clown-head in the corner really make the sale for you? Even if you find a really excellent designer who can put together an incredible high-tech Flash feature, consider the harried web surfer. She's been clicking all day; do you really think she has the patience to stand for one more mini-movie?

2. Too many messages cancel each other out. Ever try to read one of those pharmacy circulars when you're tired? All of those big red words emblazoned across the page. Headlines crammed in beside blown-out price points and cheap photography. It isn't easy! If you try to cram a whole bunch of words on your website, guess what? Not one of those messages is going to be read, let alone remembered. The eye doesn't know where to look! Try a visual whisper instead of a scream. Make your point as best you can, but take care to leave whitespace so the eyes have a resting place where they can digest what you've said.

3. Movement is distracting. Think about the last time you visited a website with "magical stars" sprinkling down over the words. Were you able to read and understand it? Mind the weary web surfer; be kind to his eyes! You stand a much better chance of holding a customer's interest with words that aren't flying off the page, but rather standing still in one spot, waiting quietly for someone to read them!

4. The mighty click is all-powerful. You know what it is to be that web hunter. The mouse is in your hand; you're in total control! Now think of that other person palming the mouse, surfing YOUR site. If your website is a frenzy of color and confusion, all it takes is one CLICK and you're forgotten! Don't want them to click away? Here's how to make them stay. Keep it clean and simple!

5. Your empty promises are lost on the skeptical consumer. Think about your own web-surfing experiences. Did you believe that guy who told you he'd make you a millionaire if you just SIGN UP TODAY? You're better off being honest and optimistic, than crazed and fanatical about what you can offer your customer.

6. Pop-ups are really annoying. Have you ever been so intrigued by a pop-up ad that you bought whatever they were raving about? My guess is no. Do you appreciate it when you're trying to get some work done on the computer and fifteen pop-up ads crowd your screen and overload your hard drive? I certainly don't! If you don't like such rude interruptions, then don't impose them on somebody else. I don't care how many times that marketing guru tells you it will improve your search engine ranking. Search engine stats might give you exposure, but click rates mean nothing if the customer's not buying.

7. No one reads really long sales letters. Ah, how brilliant of those copywriting experts to convince you that a six-page letter is going to bring in big bucks for your company. Especially if you're paying them by the hour or word! A two-page letter will do the same thing as a six-pager, and more. The 'more' being that it will hold your reader's interest the whole way through. Brevity is the key to great writing. If you can make a great argument in five words or less, you've got it all over the next guy. Keep that in mind before you put the Magna Carta on your web portal.

Want to design and write website content that attracts and captivates? Want to bring your visitors back for seconds, thirds, fourths, and the ultimate purchase? Then keep the above "distractors" to a minimum. Really try to put yourself in the other person's shoes... the one who is searching the internet for what you have. Think about all of those things that prevent you from enjoying your web surfing experience, and then take care to remove them from your own company website! Offer tasteful, subtle design, eloquent headlines, and clear, informative copy. Be honest about what you sell and how it can make a difference for your potential customer. Speak softly, and watch the sales roll in.

Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like Toys"R"Us. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.

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