Prospects and customers, as every business owner knows, don't exactly grow on trees. It's hard finding the right folks to pitch your products to, so the last thing you want to do when you have a potential new client on the line is to alienate him or her. But, according to a new infographic from Web analytics company KISSmetrics, that's exactly what a lot of small business websites are doing.
The handy visual guide to common mistakes lays out not only what not to do when it comes to designing your website, but also offers suggestions for avoiding these customer-repelling problems in the first place, or fixing them if you've already stumbled. Some of the issues, like poor navigation or annoying ads, are well known (if still surprisingly frequent) problems. Others, you may not have considered (or been under the mistaken impression that they are actually selling points of a site). Here are three examples of the more easily overlooked issues covered by the infographic:
1. It's Noisy
There's nothing more embarrassing than being at work and trying to unobtrusively get a little Web browsing or research done during a quiet moment, only to inadvertently land on a page with blaring, cheesy music that announces to your whole team what you're up to. But even if you're in the privacy or your own home, it's rarely enjoyable when websites send you scrambling for the volume controls with the Internet equivalent of bad hold Muzak. (Hotels, I've found, are guilty of this with particularly irritating frequency).
If your website plays sound at any time other than when visitors explicitly ask for it, you might be driving away customers, according to KISSmetrics. "Most visitors enjoy their ability to choose what content to absorb," notes the site, so make sure all video and audio plays only when visitors opt in.
2. Premature Registration
Sure, one of the main points of many small business websites is to collect information on potential customers, but, in general, you need to work a little to convince visitors to hand over their details. Asking them to register straight away can just drive off would-be browsers.
"Forcing visitors to register before they can view content is much like putting up a physical barrier," insists KISSmetrics, so "avoid excessive use of pop-ups that require visitors to register before they can see content." Instead, give them a taste of what you're offering before asking them to sign up.
3. Stale Content
Your design is flawless, your visuals stunning, your information accessible, so you're all set, right? Nope, says KISSmetrics, not if you don't also update your site regularly. If a customer bothers to come back to your site for a repeat visit, you want to make sure to reward them with fresh content of some kind. A blog is one great way to do this, but whatever you do, don't think you can pull the wool over potential customers' eyes simply by adding an "under construction" banner.
"Visitors have come to equate 'under construction' with 'this site is rarely updated. Move along,' " warns KISSmetrics.
What design features drive you away from a website?