Easy Fixes for Your Website Mistakes, Part 2

Last week in this space, I discussed the first five web design mistakes highlighted in an Oct. 13 Target Marketing-sponsored presentation titled 10 Mistakes Your Website Is Making (And How to Fix Them). Speakers included Amy Schade, a director at the Nielsen Norman Group, and Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, which was also the event’s sponsor. I moderated.

Last week in this space, I discussed the first five web design mistakes highlighted in an Oct. 13 Target Marketing-sponsored presentation titled 10 Mistakes Your Website Is Making (And How to Fix Them). Speakers included Amy Schade, a director at the Nielsen Norman Group, and Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, which was also the event’s sponsor. I moderated.

(To tune in to a replay of the presentation, register here.)

This week, I’ll discuss the last five mistakes, which were presented by both Amy and Matt.

6. Blocking your users’ progress. Don’t make people go through extra steps to get the information they need from your site, Schade said. Instead, make your users feel like they’re flowing through your site and making progress toward reaching their end goals.

7. Saying way too much or way too little. Before offering any details about a product, offer a synopsis of the product you’re selling, Schade said. Users will not scroll through pages and pages of information about a product unless they know exactly what the product is. Also, be specific when categorizing your products.

A good way to do both of these things, according to Schade, is to use a concept called layering, where you offer different layers of product information on your site.

At the top of a page, for instance, you could show a picture of an item, along with some identifying characteristics. If users are interested, they can scroll down the page and see a highlights tab that summarizes more detailed information about it. Then if they’re still interested, they can click through and read more detailed information. This is a nice balance of presenting the right amount of information in a very usable way, Schade said.

8. Not taking a walk in your users shoes. This applies to users web usability and technical perspectives, Poepsel said. Make sure the experiences they have in terms of website availability, performance and load time are excellent. If not, users will be frustrated, your brand will be at risk and you’ll incur higher operational costs, among other potential problems.

9. Not checking your work twice. Validate how your website looks, displays and performs not just in the most popular browsers — such as Internet Explorer 7.0 — but in all the possible browsers consumers may use when visiting your site, Poepsel said.

10. Not preparing for success. Make sure your website can perform well in both your lowest traffic times and your highest, Poepsel said. You don’t want to have the performance of your website flounder after sending out an email blast about a special promotion. Despite the influx of people going to your website at the same time, it should perform just as well as it normally does.

Easy Fixes for Your Website Mistakes

Target Marketing presented a webinar on Oct. 13 titled 10 Mistakes Your Website Is Making (And How to Fix Them). Speakers included Amy Schade, a director at the Nielsen Norman Group, and Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, which was also the sponsor. I moderated.

Target Marketing presented a webinar on Oct. 13 titled 10 Mistakes Your Website Is Making (And How to Fix Them). Speakers included Amy Schade, a director at the Nielsen Norman Group, and Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, which was also the sponsor. I moderated.

Since the topic turned out to be very popular — more than 500 attendees listened in and stayed for the duration of the 60-minute presentation — I thought I’d present the mistakes discussed. Here, I’ll discuss the first five mistakes, which were all presented by Amy. The last five mistakes, which were presented by Amy and Matt, will follow next week. (To tune in to a replay of the presentation, register here.)

Mistake 1: Believing people read what you write. Users don’t read; they scan, Schade said. As a result, when writing copy for the web, simple and straightforward are best.

Mistake 2: Reflecting your priorities, not your users’. Balance your goals and your users’ goals, Schade said. While you may want to promote your latest offer, sell off inventory, promote your brand or collect leads, your users probably want to get the answers to specific questions or get in and out of your site quickly.

Mistake 3: Ignoring standards. Some design elements on web pages already work and are de facto standards, Schade said. The search box, for example, is usually located in the upper right-hand corner of a web page. When a search box is moved to another spot on a page, this may give users the impression that a site is trying to hide the search box or that the search isn’t very good.

You don’t want to convey that information just because you changed the design location of where something appears on the page, Schade said. There’s room for creativity in web design, but make sure any new designs you try are usable.

Mistake 4: Using the wrong images. While pictures can go a long way on a website in terms of conveying information and getting users interested in your site, products or services, you don’t want to use the wrong ones, Schade said.

Examples of the wrong images include the following:
• generic or stock art;
• boring graphics;
• images that are not related to content; and
• graphics that look like ads.

The right images, on the other hand, include the following:
• images that are related to content;
• images that are clear and the right size; and
• pictures of approachable, real people.

Mistake 5: Not speaking your customers’ language
. It’s so easy getting caught up in the lingo and language used internally at your company when writing web copy; you forget about your users’ perspectives, Schade said. Big mistake. Instead, always think about how users may define or categorize your merchandise. Good places for inspiration on this front are your product reviews. Since they’re provided by users, they speak your users’ language.