You took the leap. You set up a website to display your important message. Congratulations! As in life, first impressions are important on the web. Web researchers found that you have about 2 minutes to make that first impression a good one. Visitors will judge your site in those few seconds on its professionalism and appropriateness to what they are looking for.
In fact, a website can lose about one-third of its potential customers due to poor design, according to a recent user study conducted 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 a brutally honest review of your site. Does it pass the test of professionalism? Are the graphics of good quality and clear? Is the formatting, font size and font colors consistent throughout the site? Or does your site commit design mistakes that speak AMATEUR as soon as it loads?
There are some common mistakes website owners make that may cause visitors to leave early. Correct these top 5 mistakes to make sure your 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 seem like a good idea but usually will bloat the website. Large graphics will slow your page load and turn away impatient web surfers before they have a chance to read your message. Even so, do use them for graphics and photos help illustrate your communication and sell online.
Solution: Use optimized, web-ready photos and graphics. Web Wit Tip: If a larger image is needed to help illustrate your message, add a link that says, "Click here to see larger image." That way large images that slow your page load will only be displayed by people who really need to see a larger image.
Mistake #2 They use distracting elements that blink, bounce, scroll or turn circles.
Most novice websters are sure this will get the attention of their visitors. It's true visitors may enjoy the cutesy elements or flash presentations. But they may never focus on your important message as well. Unless the flash empowers your presentation, use the adage "Less is More."
Solution: Limit or eliminate any distracting elements from your website.
Mistake #3 They use too many different formatting styles
Unless your formatting is consistent throughout your site, it will spell UNPROFESSIONAL to its visitors and may cause them to leave early. Inexperienced site owners change formatting with too many different size, colors and styles of fonts throughout the site. They create text blocks that are out of alignment.
Solution: Use a consistent style and size of text throughout website. CSS style sheets are helpful. Learn basic HTML and explore CSS style sheets; it will improve your command of webbing for profit.
Mistake#4 They use colored backgrounds and graphics that make text illegible
Some colored backgrounds, graphics or textures make it difficult to read the type on a web page. Anything that hinders the readability of your message may cause visitors to give up and leave quickly.
Solution: Choose colors that will enhance readability of your site's message. Light backgrounds with dark text improves readability of your text every time.
Mistake#5 They use mismatched graphics that are inappropriate for the content of the site.
Unseasoned site owners will sometimes use graphics or photos that do nothing to help illustrate their message. For example, they choose cutesy stars and flowers on a site selling accounting services. Look for clipart and photos that will support your important message.
Solution: Select graphics or design elements that will harmonize and illustrate your site's message. Web Wit Tip: For non-techies like the author invest in inexpensive clipart/photo sets that will enhance and help illustrate your communications. Additionally, unless you are training to become a graphic artist look for graphic programs with templates to shorten your learning curve.
First impressions are important on the web. Follow the simple design techniques above and stop turning your visitors away at the door. Use your first few seconds to impress your visitors with simple design that delivers your powerful message effectively.
©Earma Brown, 10 yr. Web Developer, Author, Small Business Owner
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