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When designing a website it’s just as important to seek advice on what SHOULD NOT be included so that your planning and design workshops are absent of concepts and ideas that are counterproductive to good web design.

This is a simple exercise that’s so often overlooked with the result that personal (flawed) design influences negatively impact the effectiveness of the website. When a company’s website is of such importance it is staggering the number of websites that fall at the design hurdle.

The following list of 13 web design mistakes to avoid or DO NOTS is not exhaustive but as a start will help you avoid some of the major design pitfalls and at a bare minimum, get you live with a well-designed and functioning website.

This list is also as relevant to your existing website and if taken on board, will significantly improve your website’s performance.

Key Point: You should look at your role as a task manager. How can I help visitors to my website complete their task(s) as effortlessly and as easily as possible?

With that in mind, AVOID the following:

  1. Don’t confuse your visitors with complicated or confusing messages
    Empirical evidence clearly shows that visitors to a website will make their minds up in under 2 seconds whether they will stay or not.
    I invite you to click on this link and see if you can determine in under two seconds what we do?
    Now, check the key message for your new website or visit your existing website. Is it clear and unambiguous what you offer you visitors?
  2. Don’t clutter your homepage or any page for that matter.
    Don’t clutter your homepage with what we call ‘bells and whistles,’ unnecessary objects that distract your visitor from completing their key task.
    Plus, the more clutter, the slower your page loads and Google doesn’t like slow page loads.
  3. Don’t use moving text, garish coloured cursors or music
    Linked to the load speed and note Google’s dislike which will hurt your SEO rankings.
    Plus, it’s really annoying to land on a website that hits you with music especially when you could be in your work environment.
  4. Don’t automatically play videos
    A big no no. Visitors should be left to their own decision as to whether they want to watch your video or not as the case may be. On the Big Red Cloud website we have a clear ‘Play’ button on the client testimonial videos.
  5. Don’t forget to include ALT Tags on all your images
    ALT Tags tell search engines what the image is about and this is very important in determining your overall SEO score.
    It’s so easy to do but you’d be surprised by how any companies neglect to do it.
  6. Don’t, under any circumstances, have dead links
    Dead links are the kiss of death. Someone looking for a product or service that lands on a dead link will exit your website faster than a speeding bullet, pretty much without exception.
    Get to grips with this by using any one of a number of free dead link checkers.
  7. Don’t use unreadable fonts.
    You’d think that this would be straight forward – not to use a font that will prove challenging to some visitors to read but lots of websites do.
    Here at Big Red Cloud, we spent quite an amount of time deciding on our font for the website and we recommend that you do too. We also spent a considerable amount of time distilling down our key message for the homepage (Simple accounting software. We help small businesses complete simple, everyday accounting tasks) and taken together with a readable font, makes if far more effective.
  8. Don’t ignore mobile
    Many purchases today will begin on one device (mobile) and end on another (PC or tablet.)
    Make sure your website is responsive as it will provide easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices.
  9. Don’t forget to ask for permission
    When a visitor provides their email address to download from your website don’t assume that you have permission to include them on your ezine or email list.
    Ask for permission and tell them what they can expect to receive. Permission based marketing is a whole lot more powerful than being viewed as a spammer.
  10. Don’t’ bury your contact details 
    As previously stated, we should look at ourselves as task managers and one of the most frequent reasons for website visits it to get our contact details. Make it a clearly defined link either at the top of bottom of your homepage.
  11. Don’t forget to measure twice and cut once especially when it comes to spelling
    Without a doubt, one of the biggest factors affecting the overall quality and perception of a website.
    Poor grammar and spelling reflects poorly on you, your products and your company. Spend time and double check everything.
  12. Don’t use pop-ups
    Pop-ups can inadvertently block your website for a genuine visitor as they may have their pop-up blocker turned on. Don’t use pop-ups.
  13. Don’t use drop-down menus
    Back to being a task manager – make it as easy as possible for your visitor to complete their task. Drop-down menus by their very nature take longer to navigate and may inadvertently hide what your visitor is actually looking for.

The 13 web design mistakes to avoid is a good a place to start and will go a long way to improving the effectiveness of your website. It’s worth repeating, your website is the world’s window to you and your company. You can provide your visitors with a great experience by making some simple changes or you can proceed as is and hope for the best.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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