6. Limited ways to contact - Believe it or not, I’ve actually come across commercial web sites that have absolutely no way to contact anyone associated with the site. Unless you hope your web site visitor’s reaction to the online representation of your business to be a string of profanity, I wouldn’t suggest taking this route. In fact, I’ve always urged clients to offer as many ways as possible to contact them on their web sites. Phone, fax, e-mail, contact form, mailing address, etc.
Everyone has their own preferred method of contact. A lot of my clients prefer talking on the phone and probably wouldn’t be my clients if all I offered as a contact method was e-mail. Me, I hate talking on the phone and filling out forms. If you don’t offer a link to your e-mail address on your site, you probably won’t hear from me. But what about spam, you say Well, you’ll just have to decide for yourself what’s worse, losing potential paying customers or getting more spam.
7. Long Pages/Entire Site in One Page - When loading a site, finding a page that seems to go on forever can seem daunting. The same amount of information, organized into several pages will seem a lot less scary to your visitors. Labeled pages and sections will lead your visitor to exactly the information they’re looking for as opposed to making them search lines and lines of text to find it. Well organized content on several pages is also something that pleases the search engines.
8. No Link Exchange Policy - A lot of web sites out there don’t exchange links as a rule. This will not only stunt the growth of your link popularity, but potential traffic that could come directly from those links would be lost. You don’t have to exchange links with every interested site, but turning them all away is a dangerous practice.
9. No Cross-Browser Compatibility Check - Always, always, always check what your web site looks like and how well it functions on other browsers. Do this whenever you update, make new pages, or new versions of browsers come out. I’ve seen some pretty funky stuff around the web that’s been caused by non-compatibility. Title images on the bottom of the page, invisible links, missing images, even some sites that cause browsers to crash.
Here are some of the more popular browsers:
Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)
Download a copy of each of these and check your site! I realize most of you use Windows and can’t check your site on Safari, so find a friend who has a Mac. Mac users are growing in numbers and can be some of your web site’s visitors. Make sure what they see is what you want them to.
10. Free Web Space/No Domain Name - This one is all about professionalism. To avoid having your business seem about as serious as little Sally’s lemonade stand down the street, don’t host it on free web space like Geocities, Angelfire, etc. Get your own domain name. It costs an average of $30/year and you can find good hosting for $10/month, sometimes less. If you can’t afford that, I suggest you turn off your computer and sell it for food. Free hosting is straight cheese, and your visitors will get the feeling you’re not taking your business seriously.
So, there you have it. The top 10 most ludicrous things you can do with your web site. I’ve heard some web site owners argue that their site visitors have complimented their videos, java apps, music, etc. Just keep in mind, the visitors who don’t like this stuff leave and you probably won’t hear from them.
The goal of your commercial web site should be to soak up every last potential
paying customer from the web. Any of these 10 points can turn paying customers
away. Respect your visitors’ time, try to make their experience on
your site as quick and full of information as possible. Be organized and
professional and let your audience see that you know what you’re doing.
Courtney Heard is the founder of Abalone Designs, an Internet Marketing and SEO company in Vancouver, Canada. She has been involved in web development and marketing since 1995 and has helped start several businesses since then in the Vancouver area.