Five Website Design Errors

Deciding whether your company can benefit from having a website is the easy part. Getting it right is the hard part.

You want to make sure that your Internet presence portrays the company in the best possible light and isn't marred by these five common errors of website design:

1. Not defining a clear purpose for your site. Failing to establish definable goals is one of the more common website design errors — and one of the most costly.

Do you want your site solely to establish an Internet presence and provide only basic information for prospective customers? Or do you want a complete e-commerce site enabling viewers to make purchases online?

If you can't state your purpose clearly in two or three sentences, you probably shouldn't dip a toe in Internet waters.

2. Not ensuring that the site designer understands your purpose. If you hire a professional designer to create a site, you'll pay additional charges if you keep changing your mind. Changes in design and function once the project is underway can result in wasted creative hours. Unless your designer has agreed to a flat rate, you'll be stuck with a larger bill than you expected.

3. Not understanding that the most important element of any website is content. Web surfers are looking for information about your organization. Design and colors should be transparent and pleasing to the viewer. Too much "design" in a website is like too much makeup on a woman. If it calls attention to itself and defeats its purpose. In website design, less is often more.

4. Not making sure that your home page provides simple navigation. Internet surfers are notoriously impatient. Viewers who log on to your site want to quickly see how to find information they are seeking. If your site's navigation system doesn't provide answers to questions at a glance, many viewers will wave bye-bye.

Every page should provide an easy way to reach every other page. If you allow your viewer to get confused or "lost," you've probably lost a potential customer.

5. Not providing an easy way for viewers to contact you. Prospective customers may have questions that you haven't anticipated, or there may be problems with your site, such as broken links. In these cases, a quick-and-easy email link allows viewers to reach you with the click of a mouse and makes them feel like you're listening.

Avoiding these common errors doesn't guarantee a blue ribbon for design and marketing effectiveness, but it can help unleash the full power of your company's website and lift it above the majority of your peers.

Don't Forget the Meta Tags

Search engines on the Internet allow Web surfers to type in key words such as the name of a product or service, an organization's name, or general subjects such as "help for seniors." The search engine scans millions of sites and lists those that have meta tags identical to the typed-in search term.

In other words, meta tags make it easier to find you. They are the words and phrases that describe the contents of your website. Make sure that your Web designer includes appropriate meta tags on your home page.

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