"Setting up this
website really couldn´t have
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very satisfied
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Gary Zarin
Jury Verdict Review Publications

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Common Web Site Mistakes:
10 Things You Should Always Leave Out

Designing a slick, attractive Web site takes practice and persistence. With time and feedback from visitors, you'll learn what makes them come back for more and what causes them to abandon your site after one quick stop. Few site owners do the job perfectly the first time: thankfully, you can always upload updated pages as you make improvements.

Experience is the best teacher, but here's something to start you on the road to a solid, professional Web site: things that you should always leave out. No matter what type of site you design – personal, business or somewhere in between – these things should never find their way onto your pages.

  • Flashing graphics. If the neon-green- and-white image gives you an instant migraine, odds are your visitors will have the same problem. Keep the headache- inducing elements as far away from your site as possible.
  • Sound files that automatically load. The auto-loading option only wastes valuable time that can be better spent loading your real content. And many visitors surf with their speakers turned off anyway, just to avoid annoying website noises. You may want to provide brief audio or video clips, but always make them voluntary!
  • Clashing backgrounds and blocks of text. Grey text on a graphical background of court house steps won't work. You'll be able to read some bits and pieces, but most will be lost in the image.
  • Embedded ad windows that were designed to foil pop-up blockers. These ads aren't quite embedded: they cover your page's content until the user does something with the ad windows. Stick with text-based ads, like Google's AdSense, to generate a little money from your site.
  • Extremely long pages. Break them up into different pages and use HTML coding to link them together. Users would rather have quick-loading, short pages than one massive document that requires endless scrolling.
  • Pointless Flash animation. There's a reason that many Flash elements include the "Skip Intro" option. Unless it's necessary, or at least does something semi-productive for your content, skip the elaborate intro.
  • Too many PDF files. Use these to package information that users will download and read offline. For online reading, keep it to HTML and plain text. This option is faster and encourages people to keep checking out your content.
  • Use of the "open new browser window" command. Opening another browser window, including when linking to an external site, is against the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative. Following the Web Accessibility guidelines helps to insure your site can be read by any visitor, regardless of their abilities.
  • Script-style or other hard-to-read fonts. Stick with a basic font like Times or Arial to avoid eyestrain – and retain visitors.
  • Typos, typos, typos. Even people who weren't English majors hate reading misspelled or incomplete words.

Now that you know ten of the most common problems, you can start making improvements. This might be discouraging, but don't think of things that way. Instead, think of how much you now know about making better sites and retaining your visitors.

Work on the problem gradually to avoid the discouragement. Fix one major problem per day, or every couple of days, and be sure to keep in touch with your visitors. Use your mailing list, front page announcements section and even your blog to let visitors know that you're making changes.

They'll come back, if only to see how much work you've done. And when they see how user-friendly your site has become, they'll bookmark your URL for return visits.



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