When creating your website there a many things you should avoid if you want your website to be the best it can be.  Because there are a so many different website editors, software and technologies available, it is very easy to go overboard with adding every bell and whistle you can find which ultimately creates confusion and a not so friendly user experience.  Here is a list of ten of the most basic things you should consider avoiding when creating your site.

1. Busy/messy design

The best designed websites have a clear focus.  That means visitors should almost instantaneously know what the purpose of the page is and what action to take.  Adding too many colors, inappropriate or too many fonts, outbound links, confusing graphics etc can confuse visitors and ultimately turn them off.  There is a lot to be said about having clear and clean design.  The saying “Less is more” and the idea that form should follow function is very relevant to website design.

2. Too many images

Using too many images can quickly mean trouble for both loading time and user experience. Unless you're a photographer or have a business directly related to photography, you should always consider using as few image files as possible. An image or two can be just fine, but the second you start using too many it can be hard for the visitors to separate the information they look for from the visual content.  If you do need to use a lot of images make sure to optimize them for the best look and smallest file size.

3. Bad navigation

One major turn-off to visitors is having a website navigation that is hard to understand or find. Make sure that your website is easy to navigate through and make sure to test it out on others before launch. There are so many websites out there that if someone's getting frustrated with your navigation they're likely to leave your website for a similar one.  It’s also important if you’re using javascript type drop down menus that they expand fast.  This is really a pet peeve of mine but if you think about it there is no reason for drop down menus to take a second or more to expand.  I link navigation to be instant and intuitive.

4. Slow-loading page content

You really don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.  And this is so true if you have a slow loading site.  This is pretty much death to any website.  If your site doesn’t load within a few seconds or less visitors click that back button fast.  Check your site’s speed over at Pingdom.  If you find your site loads slow consider moving your site to a fast web host.  Inexpensive shared hosting is usually the culprit behind slow websites.  If you’re on a server with hundreds of other websites you’ll most likely have a slow site.  Again consider getting a better host or going to a dedicated server in a good NOC.  This site used to be hosted by hostgator but I found that the site was loading too slow for my preferences and I figured that it was time to move.  So I went ahead and got a new dedicated server from Zerolag.

It’s also important to note that Google announced that website load times are part of their algorithm for ranking websites.  So fast loading websites are good for SEO.

5. Too many ads

We all have to make money, and sometimes that means putting ads on our websites. If you're doing so, keep the ads relevant to your website and don't overcrowd your content. By having a lot of ads for all sorts of companies and services all over the place, you'll look less professional and in the long run probably make less money and get fewer visitors. Be picky on which ads you'll allow on your site and try to make dedicated ad-spaces in your layout rather than just throwing ads in different sizes and colors “everywhere”.

If you’re running a professional business there is no reason you should have banners or text link ads on your website period, unless they are for your services.  Don’t send your valuable traffic off to someone else.  Keep your visitors by having them focus solely on your content.

6. Auto-playing content ie. music or video

This goes back to the earliest days of the web when people figured out that they could embed midi songs on their geocities sites… Ack!  Do not do this!  I don’t care if you have a photography website or if you’re a musician.  People sitting at their computers often have their own music or videos playing and don’t need to be bombarded with your favorite song.  It’s invasive and ultra annoying.  It’s surefire way to give people a bad impression from the get-go.  I’ve maybe seen 1 or 2 sites in thousands that have pulled off putting auto-playing music on their sites… and even then it was ambient music that was not loud or obtrusive.

I’ve also seen a number of marketers putting videos on their sites that auto play when loaded.  Again, bad idea.  Even worse is that the videos don’t have player controls so you can’t even stop the videos.  Rest assured I left immediately.

7. Misspellings/Grammar error

Believe it or not grammar is important.  Use spell check always and have someone proofread your content.  It makes a big difference.  Simple as that.

8. SEO trickery

When writing your content forget about search engines.  In the end you have human visitors with brains that can tell pretty fast if you‘re keyword stuffing your copy.  Forget about “sprinkling keywords” throughout your posts to get them to be SEO friendly.  If you’re talking about a certain topic then naturally your copy will contain keywords related to that topic.  Latent Symantec Indexing (LSI) should come naturally and shouldn’t be forced.

Keyword stuffing of any sort should be avoided by all means.  I’ve seen established businesses with a huge amount of white space in their footer only to find that they’ve hidden 300 keywords there and immediately they lose all credibility.  SEO is important to business but there is a natural way to rank for keywords and it doesn’t include trickery of any kind.

9. Irrelevant or low quality content

Content is such a crucial piece of the SEO puzzle.  Yes you need lots of content and the more the better.  But ultimately your content needs to be of high quality because your visitors that matter are human, not bots.  If you create your own content you should be spending a good amount of time writing high quality content.  That includes researching and coming up with quality images that are relevant to your copy.  People love quality content so give them what they want!

If you’re hiring people to write content for you make sure you don’t hire the cheapest writers you can find.  In the end it’s quality that will keep visitors coming back.  And it’s quality content that will get linked to.

10. Flash

I’m still not a fan of flash after all these years.  Not only does it crash browsers but it doesn’t even work on the millions of ipods and ipads out there.  I’ve had my browser crash more times because of flash than any other reason.   For those reasons alone I avoid it, but the worst is that flash isn’t that SEO friendly.  Sure google has made some changes to their bot that allows them to index some flash content but ultimately it’s better to have your website use standard HTML and Javascript to produce flash like effects.

So there you have it… the 10 things you should avoid when creating your website.  Of course there are many other things you should avoid but this list is a good place to start.  Follow these rules and you’ll be off to a good start.

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