Enhance User Experience on Your Website: Top 15 Website Hitches to Avoid

By: | September 2nd, 2012

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Have you ever come across a website that seemed to hold so much potential – in terms of the product or service it offered – only be disappointed by its boring design, awfully long registration form, or constant stream of pop-up ads? If you have, then chances are you didn’t stay too long on that website, but moved on quickly to look for another one offering similar services.

Isn’t it a shame how certain features of business websites, which can be easily improved, scare away potential clients? If you feel that your website is not getting the traffic that it should, it’s time for a reality check. Is your website annoying visitors? Is it making their lives difficult? If you’re not sure what the problem could be, you’ve reached the right place. Especially for you, we have put together a list of the 15 most bothersome features a website can have. Check yourself: if any of the descriptions below fits your case – do your best to fix the problem quickly!

the worlds worst website

A web designer’s nightmare – the world’s worst website. From angelfire.lycos.com

#1 Tiny Font Size

Most commonly, web pages are designed with CSS.  Unfortunately, CSS give websites the choice to disable the browser’s “change font size” button. Therefore, the font size on the web pages stays fixed and it usually tends to be tiny, which makes it hardly legible to people past a certain age. How can you avoid this? Simple. Let visitors to your website control the font size themselves – give them the possibility to resize the font according to their preferences.

sony store

Sony, why the tiny fonts? From sony.store.com

#2 Not Listing Prices of Your Products/Services

It would seem obvious that a business should list prices of the services or products on its website – but apparently, it is not clear to everyone. Prices are the most important piece of information for a potential client, so why hide them or not provide them at all? List your prices clearly and visibly – it only serves to attract the clients you are looking for. Also, it prevents the disappointment that could result when they find out that the price does not match their expectations.

# 3 Not having a Search Bar

Having a search bar on your website is not a necessity – but it certainly makes life easier for users who are not familiar with the website. If navigating your website is not an easy task (more on that in the next paragraph), or if the website is complex and includes a lot of information, a search bar that helps users find what they need could come in handy. If you decide to include a search bar, place it at the top of the homepage, below the logo. This is the spot where most internet users would look for it – don’t make them search for that, too…

A search bar may seem like a small, trivial box that doesn’t require much thought. However,  if it’s designed with originality and care, it may work wonders for your website. Take a look at the following links for examples and inspiration:

#4 Difficult Navigation through the Content

When people visit a website, they should to know what section or page of the website they’re on at the moment – whether it’s the ‘About’ page, the page showing the products, and so on. If different web pages on the same website are not marked clearly, visitors are bound to feel lost and confused – and move on in search of a website that’s easier to navigate.

Make sure that the link or the title of every page on your website is clearly visible and highlighted when a person is on that particular page. If the different sections on your website are marked by tabs, make sure that the tab for the section the visitor is looking at is clearly highlighted in a way that differentiates it from the other tabs. Another useful idea is to provide a list of categories on the side bar, or a tag cloud.

tag cloud

A tag cloud. From Wordle.net

#5 Your Website Loads Well – on One Browser Only

As you know, not everyone uses the same internet browser. Some people uses Firefox, others use Google Chrome and for some obscure reason, some still use Internet Explorer. And there are other browsers, too. If your website does not function well on every browser, you may be losing loads of potential clients. It is your responsibility to make sure your website runs on every browser, problem-free, and that it looks the same on every browser. Your potential clients are expecting the best service possible, and that does not include them having to switch browser to view your website properly.

#6 It’s Feedback Time! But There’s Nowhere to Write It…

The first and foremost purpose of your website is to serve your clients and potential clients. Therefore, not providing them with a place where they can post or send their comments, questions and complaints is not only odd but can leave a very bad impression on them. They are the ones using your website so whatever they say can help you improve it greatly. You want your clients’ feedback – so give them a chance to tell you what’s on your mind.

This can be easily done by providing a feedback section on the website, in which users can fill in the fields with their name, contact details and comments, and have these comments sent to you. Otherwise, you can write a line like ‘For comments, question and general feedback, contact us’ and leave an e-mail address or some other type of contact information. If you write news updates or blog posts on your website, make sure you enable comments. You wouldn’t believe the amount of valuable, helpful information you can gain from these simple actions.

Some examples of comment boxes we liked:

designdisease comment box

From designdisease.com

spoongraphics comment box

From Blog.SpoonGraphics

#7 Not Answering Users’ Feedback

Come on. We don’t want to say this is sheer stupidity – but it kind of is. If you have gone through the trouble of providing your contact details for questions and enabling users’ comments on your posts – you need to accompany this by actually replying to their feedback. Even if they offer suggestions or just general comments, and are not actually asking questions, the least you can do is thank them for their comments. This would make them feel helpful and increase their involvement with the website. On the other hand, ignoring them completely is a surefire way to drive them away from your website and send them to graze in greener pastures.

#8 Confusing Descriptions of Your Business

We cannot stress enough how vital it is to catch the attention of your website’s visitors within seconds of their reaching it. These people want to understand what you do as fast as they can, or else they’ll just move on to your competitors’ websites. To simplify matters you can do the following things:

  • Use clear, short, and eye-catching headlines.
  • Put an introductory or a tutorial video on your homepage.
  • Place clear, attractive photos (original ones! More on that later) of your product, or of people using your product or service, on your homepage.

What does this website offer?

imprint

From imprint.msni.net

With this website, though, it’s perfectly clear:

royale

From 45royale.com

#9 Ads that Take Up Half the Page

Advertisements generate money for your business and that’s great. But that’s no reason to let them take over your website. Remember, you want people to reach your website and stay there – so they can explore the products and services you offer. Ads that cover half the page only distract the users’ from the content of your website. Make ads smaller, and place them at the side or at the bottom of the page. This way, users can still see them AND read about your business.

#10 Hard-to-Use Websites Scare Away Visitors

The average attention span of someone surfing the web is incredibly short. If your website is too complex to understand and to use, visitors who are not tech-savvy (let’s face it – that’s most of them) may leave it quite quickly. The interface of your website should be intuitive and easy to understand. A good idea is to focus on the pages which will be visited the most (the About page, the Help page, the Subscription page and so on) and make them easy to find from any location in your website. If you suspect your website is difficult to use, test its beta version on people with various level of internet literacy.

Let’s take a short break. Before we hit the worst ever glitches a website can have – take a look at the 5 most important web design tips, ever:

We have now reached the top five most annoying features a website can have. Since they are all equally bad, read them in no particular order.

#11 Terrible Registration Forms

Yes, we have already mentioned this problem in one of our recent posts about creating a registration form that doesn’t scare off users, but one can never stress this issue enough. If someone wants to register to your company’s website, blog or newsletter, don’t make it hard on them! Make the process as easy and comfortable as possible. Avoid too many fields, do not pose ridiculous password requirements and God’s sake, make your registration forms short! A full name and an e-mail address are usually enough. You don’t really need the name of your subscriber’s third cousin from his father’s side. Also, you can go one step further and allow people to sign in to your website via social networks like Facebook.

#12 Is Your Website Painfully Slow? Say Bye-Bye to Potential Clients

You probably know it from your own experience – websites that take ages to load are incredibly annoying. Users who encounter slow websites tend to leave them and move on. Not only that but slow loading times harm rankings on Google: page speed is one of the factors Google uses in its ranking algorithm. Take a look at this graph, taken from an insightful infographic about loading time by KISSmetrics:

every second counts

#13 Video and Audio that Start Playing Automatically Upon Entering the Site

In the likely case that the volume on the computer of visitors to your website is turned up, imagine how unnerving it can be to encounter auto-play videos and audio files blaring loudly without a warning. This phenomenon is even more aggravating when the mute button on for that video/audio is hidden in an obscure corner of the webpage. Integrating video and audio in your website is cool – but let your visitors control what they watch or listen to, don’t force it on them.

#14 Pop-Up Ads are the Devil Incarnate – Stop Using Them!

What could be worse than having several windows of your browser open, as well as a few files you’re working on? That’s right – another window popping out of nowhere and jamming your already full screen. Not only that, they can take a hard toll on the concentration of visitors to your website. Using ads is okay, until they start causing the opposite effect of what they should and drive people away from your website. Place ads on a sidebar and make them clickable, so that visitors who are interested can click them and get to the relevant instead of having them into their face.

#15 Stock Photos are Lame and Rehashed – Use Original Photos!

Not only are stock photos boring and give users the feeling you couldn’t care less about your website’s design, they are generally ignored. So why would you want to spend all that extra space on photos that do not contribute to your website? Not only that, but generic photos of people in a business meeting or sitting behind a computer are simply uninformative.

istockphoto

One of the most overused images on business websites EVER. Are you sure you want to use it? From istockphoto.com

Photos are a great tool to show off your product or the service experience your clients get. You could even add a humorous touch by posting funny behind-the-scenes of your employees. And honestly, how difficult is it be to take cool, original photos nowadays? What was Instagram invented for? Read our Ultimate Instagram Marketing Guide for more tips on how great photos can leverage your website.

Are you ready to enlarge your client base?

Then we hope you follow the tips above. You are welcome to post us links of good and bad business websites. Also, iff you are a web designer or a website builder and you have some more do’s and don’t’s for business websites, please post them here! We would love to hear from you!

 

Dafna Ben-Yehoshua Google+

A biologist turned content writer who dances lindy hop for fun. Specializes in multi-tasking and never getting enough sleep. An expert on cats, dark chocolate, and how prevent cats from eating her chocolate.

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