How to Avoid the 7 Deadly Website Sins

Last Updated Jul 22, 2011 4:30 PM EDT

Here are seven ways your website can under-perform, actively drive customers away, poorly represent your business, or, well, just be horrible:
  1. Your website is anything but mobile-friendly. Almost 5 billion people have mobile phone subscriptions out of a population of approximately 7 billion people. Still think you don't need a fast, well-designed, and efficient mobile-friendly site? Your customers do.
  2. SEO optimization is more important to you than readability. Sure, you got me there with high-ranking keywords, but once I arrive I want to read something written by and for real people. Blatant SEO tactics come across like a car dealer bait-and-switch tactic.
  3. Your About Us page is about everything else. Visitors want to know who you are, what you do, and how to reach you. Fluff, jargon, hype... none of that belongs on an About Us page. Fortunately it's easy to create a better About Us page. Be real -- your customers will respond.
  4. You use auto-play audio or video. No one wants to turn off the video... or turn down the sound... plus, except in very specific situations and industries, it's kinda tacky. When that smarmy guy walks across the screen to tell me about an amazing opportunity, I walk off to another site. If you include video or audio, let visitors choose to access it.
  5. Users need to learn how to use your site. Any time an operation or a page itself requires some sort of instructions, your site is broken. Be clear. Be straightforward. Make next steps intuitive. Sometimes a little site reorganization or a different navigation structure is all you need. Remember, any time visitors have to figure out what to do next, they leave.
  6. You don't include a search function. Maybe a small website doesn't need an internal search function, but why take the chance? Many people would rather use a search function than take the time to explore. Since hundreds of millions of Google searches are performed every day, at least a few of your visitors will be happy to see a search function.
  7. Your website doesn't deliver on advertising promises. Anyone can run an AdWords campaign and generate traffic, but what happens when a visitor lands on a page that only partially relates to the ad? They leave. Include one main call to action, make sure each page has a clear purpose, and don't throw everything you have on a page in the hope something will create a response. Make sure your pay-per-click ads deliver exactly what they promise.
I know there are more deadly website sins -- feel free to add yours in the Comments!

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Photo courtesy flickr user striatic, CC 2.0
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    Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business from managing a 250-employee book manufacturing plant. Everything else he picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs and leaders in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Haden.