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Written by Telian Adlam   

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A very wise person once said something along the lines of “the best thing about the web is that every one can become a publisher and the worst thing about the web is that everyone can become a publisher.” With the availability of so many web publishing tools, developers are making it incredibily easy to design webpages and sites that are just wrong on so many levels.

The golden rule applies to the web too! If it frustrated you on someone else’s website - why are you going to put it on yours? Below, you can find some of the most common gripes experienced when browsing.

1. I’m lost and I can’t find my way home… Do your site visitors know where they are? It’s important to have a link back to ‘home’ or a site map on every page especially for larger web sites. A search feature would also be helpful if you have a lot of content on your site. If your visitors cannot easily find their way around your site, they will leave and chances are, never come back.

2. Disabled Browser Buttons Taking away your visitors’ ability to use their browser back and forward buttons is not the way to get on your visitor’s good side. If you’ve set up page redirection scripts, make sure it does not interfere with the browser buttons or ‘trap’ the visitors in your site. If they can’t click back or become frustrated, they’ll click the ‘x’ in the upper right hand corner.

3. What does that say? Reading text on a computer screen is much different than reading text in a book. It is a lot more strenuous on the eyes. Keep your font and background colors highly contrasting. If you have a light background, use a dark font, if you have a dark background, use a light font. Your site is no good to anyone if they cannot read your content.

4. It seemed like a good idea at the time… Some graphics just look soooo cool - but before you add it to your site, stop, take a deep breath and think about it. Where will you put it and what will it add to your site? Will it cause your visitors to lose focus on the content and focus on the spinning, flashing, blinking, (you get the idea) object? Will it slow down page load time? Keep in mind, the average visitor will barely wait 3 seconds for a page to completely download much less 10 seconds for a blinking rainbow.

5. Your page was last updated when? Set your site as your homepage, it will remind you to periodically update it, especially if you see that there is something amiss with your site’s content. Try to update your site at least once a month (weekly is a better option). If your content doesn’t change or get updated, your visitors will lose interest. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, you may do well to add a blog or forum to your site and allow your visitors to add content for you.

Unless you update your site regularly (notice I did not say ‘plan to update…’), you really do not need the ’site last updated [date]’ on your page. Your visitors may get the wrong impression if they see that the last time your site was updated was ‘half past never, 500 BC’.

6. Make sure your links are clearly marked. Underline it, strike it through, change the font color, do something, but make sure it is differentiated from your site’s normal text. If it’s not a link - don’t underline it. Go through your site and make sure that your links lead somewhere other than ‘HTTP 404 - page not found’, it scares most people. A helpful tool for checking your site links is located at [www.stickysauce.com]

7. ‘Enter here and ye shall know the truth…’ You do not need a gate-keeper to screen out the wandering souls. If the first page someone sees upon visiting your site has five or fewer words (one of which being ‘enter’), you’re wasting bandwidth. If it’s a flash intro, that’s a step up - but most visitors click the ’skip intro’ link before it even finishes loading.

But you’ve worked so hard on (or paid a lot of money for) that awesome flash intro and somebody better see it! Solution: place a link within your site content. Once you’ve earned the trust of your visitors, they will probably watch your flash presentation out of sheer curiosity if nothing else.

So when is a homepage with enter here welcome? Well, usually never - but if you must have one, use it when you’re giving your visitors the option of seeing the Flash or HTML version of your site.

8. Grammar is overrated [and the spill-chekcer too] Most web authoring and word processing software comes with a spell/grammar check utility - don’t let your hard earned money go to waste, use it. Some of the more common grammatical mistakes are misusing its, it’s, there, their, they’re, your, you’re, and noone (correct=no one). Proof reading your final product is also helpful. No one is infallible, that’s why pencils have erasers and computer programs have [ctrl+z].

9. Music and other strange noises on your website …The only thing I will say here is - if you are brave enough to use music on your site, make absolutely sure you have a clearly marked ’sound off’ or ’sound mute’ button. ( An even better option would be to let your visitor decide whether or not they want to hear your music and have a ‘play music’ or ‘listen’ button. )

10. All I’ve seen for the last 10 minutes is ‘page loading’, I think something might be wrong with my broswer…This is probably one of the biggest gripes a site visitor has. If your page takes more than a minute to load (on dial-up) and you have anything less than the meaning of life hidden within your content - something needs to be done. The average person does not have a T1 line running through their home.

Of course, there are many other quirks and annoyances out there, and this brief article is not the definitive source, but if you want to read more about what NOT to do with your website, visit [http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com]

About the Author

Telian Adlam is the owner and manager of www.alternativesoho.com - a website dedicated to promoting balance and success, not only in business, but in life.

 
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