Web Design Blunders That Can Cost You Lost Profits
by Angela Wu

It's hard enough to bring people to your little corner of
cyberspace, and once they're there, you have just a few
brief seconds to catch their attention. A simple click-of-
the-mouse and your site visitor is gone!

Keep as many interested prospects on your site by avoiding
these blunders:

1. Multiple Popup and Popunder Windows

Many online business owners swear by the effectiveness of popups 
and popunders for getting more subscribers, making sales, or 
generating leads.

At the same time, a large percentage of users claim to dislike 
popups and popunders. And it's no wonder; many of us have been 
'held hostage' by popups that spawn even more popups when you 
try to close them, until your screen is filled with windows 
and you're completely frustrated. Most people simply do NOT 
appreciate multiple popups or popunders!

If you choose to use them, try for a 'happy medium' -- a window 
that appears only once upon entry or exit. One such script is 
available fr*e at DesignerIndex,
http://www.designerindex.com/Free_Tools/popupwindow.shtml .

2. Unreadable Text

Certain formats are easier to read than others. For example, 
it's generally accepted that black text on a white background 
is the easiest to read. The reverse -- light text on a colored 
background -- can cause fatigue when reading large blocks of 
text, and is better used to highlight a portion of the page.

Similarly, text that is too small can cause problems. Although 
it's possible to change the displayed text size on a browser, 
many Internet users don't know how.

3. Confusing Navigation

Ever been to a site where it's hard to get around? It's just as 
easy to leave and go instead to a competitor's site. Make your 
navigation clear and simple.

4. Trapping Visitors In Your Frames

Improperly designed frames can leave your visitor 'trapped' on 
your site, unable to use the 'back' button on their browsers to 
leave. You can bet they'll never be back if you try to force 
them to stay! BigNoseBird.com has a nice little tutorial on how 
to get the 'Frames look' without actually using them. Read it 
at: http://bignosebird.com/k3.shtml .

5. Broken Ordering Links!

It sounds silly... heck, it *is* silly. Check your order links 
regularly to ensure that they still work. Enough said.

6. Splash Pages

You only have a few seconds to catch your visitor's attention. 
A big showy graphic that serves no real purpose is an easy way 
to lose your visitor -- particularly if they're forced to wait 
for it to load!

7. Flash Animation

Flash movies are commonly used on websites these days. However, 
to view them often requires users to download a plug-in, if they 
don't already have it. It can chew up your machine's resources 
and make it darn near impossible to get out - even a 'Skip 
Intro' link is hard to click on if your computer is too involved 
with Flash! Plus the load time can be far too long for those 
without high-speed Internet connections.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons to use Flash. But if you 
use it, make sure visitors have the OPTION to view it. A couple 
of suggestions are:

  * Put two links on your entry page: one to view the site
    using Flash, the other to view it without Flash.

  * Move your Flash movies deeper within your site. If your
    visitor wants to view them, they can simply click on a

8. 'Forced' Disclosure Of Personal Information

You may have seen sites that ask you to enter an email address, 
a name, or other personal information before you're allowed to 
'enter' the site. Again, this is an easy way to lose a visitor! 
Without knowing anything about a site, what reason does the 
visitor have to give up personal details?

Give your visitors the option to sign up for your newsletter, 
product updates, etc. But let them into your site first. If they 
like what they see, they'll willingly provide you with contact 
information. This helps *you* too, by 'pre-screening' the people 
on your list to help ensure that it contains only interested
prospects and not just people who were 'looking around'.

9. S-l-o-o-o-w Loading Pages

Huge graphics and HTML errors are just a couple of things that 
can affect the load time of your web pages. Many HTML editors 
will check your code for errors, or use NetMechanic's HTML 
Toolbox: http://netmechanic.com/ . NetMechanic also offers a 
free tool to help minimize the size of your graphics.

10. General 'Unprofessional' Look-And-Feel

A few of the more commonly seen design problems include: 
spelling mistakes; bright/clashing colors (or too many colors); 
too many fonts; a sloppy or disorganized look; too many banners 
or graphics blinking, flashing, dancing, or beckoning from the 
screen; lots of broken links; and horizontal scroll bars.

Creating a web page is easy. Creating a *good* web page, 
however, takes a little more thought. A clean, well-designed 
site is worth the effort. Your bottom line will thank you!

Angela is the author of Online Business Basics, a practical
guide to building a profitable Internet business on a beginner's 
budget. It's received rave reviews -- see why by visiting 
http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/article.html  or request a series 
of 10 free reports to get you started: