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10 Signs An Amateur Designed Your Website

  1. Your site has blinking lights or otherwise animated graphics.

Think dancing, spinning, waving, etc. You get the idea. These serve no purpose except as a distraction that makes it difficult for users to focus on your main content.

  1. The main body text is overlaid on a background illustration or photograph instead of a solid color.

The most important element on your page is the text users will read. Ensure legibility by avoiding type that is too small, line spacing that is too tight, font colors that are too bright or light, and distracting patterns in the background.

  1. The main navigation or sub-navigation is hard to read or difficult to locate.

Most home pages are abandoned between 40 and 60% of the time.1 That means about half your visitors are viewing your home page and leaving without ever reading any further. The primary purpose of your homepage should be convincing users to navigate to at least one other page of your site. If the navigation is difficult to read or locate your site design is only giving reason to leave, not stay.

  1. Your website reads like a Russian novel. The text rambles, repeats itself and is difficult to follow.

Good, effective copy is short and sweet, and takes time to WRITE rather than to READ. According to Brian Clark, of the well known Copyblogger, in his article Why Copywriting is the Key to Successful Online Marketing,

"Content drives the Internet, and using the right words in the right way will determine not only how well your site converts visitors into sales, but also how well you rank in search engines and how many links you get."
  1. There is no consistency across pages in layout, or heading and body text styles.

Sometimes the main headings are blue and 16 pt and sometimes they are 12 pt and green, sometimes the text is centered and sometime left justified, sometimes bold Arial and sometimes regular Times New Roman. These inconsistencies communicate an overall impression of disorganization. Who wants to hire a company that is disorganized?

  1. The company logo is the biggest design element on the page.

Your logo serves to identify your company and confirm for users they have navigated to the intended place. It is a subtle thought process that occurs quickly for the user. It is not necessary to broadcast loudly and in fact may detract users from discovering the more important elements that make you better than your competitors.

  1. Your site loads really slowly.

This is a recipe for immediate abandonment before the user has even seen your site. You could have the most compelling, visually impressive site but if users never see it because it downloads too slowly your effort is wasted. Equally offensive to visitors is a flash intro page that forces users to wait while it loads.

  1. Your pages all have the same title tags or none at all.

Title tags are a key element of basic search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. All of your pages should have a unique descriptive title tag clearly defining what information is found on that particular page. Often your title tag is what appears in search engine results. Shouldn't that text say something meaningful and useful to a potential visitor?

  1. You've never submitted your site to any of the search engines

Registering with the major search engines is probably one of the most basic steps you can take towards improving your site's SEO. Submitting your site to the major search engines is free, easy, and fast. There is no excuse for not registering your site today.

To register with Google visit: http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/index.html
To register with Yahoo visit: http://search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html

  1. Your website has no clear objectives.

A successful web site directs visitors to take targeted actions. Whether it is to call the sales department for more information or to read a valuable article that establishes your company as the expert in your industry. The goals of your site should be the blueprint from which the interface design is built. If you are unable to explain the reasoning behind the placement, sizing, stylistic treatment of the different design elements this should be a red flag.

1 Lance Loveday & Sandra Niehaus, Web Design for ROI, Turning Browsers into Buyers and Prospects into Leads (Berkely, CA, New Riders, 2008), p. 75