Savvy Speaks: Web Site Pet Peeves (and Best Practices)

Savvy Speaks: Web Site Pet Peeves (and Best Practices)
Savvy Sisters - Wed Mar 14, 2012 @ 08:30AM
Comments: 5

We've all received emails or visited websites that left us wanting. Here we share some of our annoyances. But this isn't just a rant. We also offer ways you can turn that negative into a positive. Read on for insight and inspiration!




Stop the noise

There are many things that can annoy me about websites, too many graphics, graphics that interrupt the flow of the text, and a clear path to where I need to go not established, but the pet peeve? 

Music and animation. Especially the kind of animation that ambushes you. (An excellent example of an animation ambush is at the US BioSecurity website.) I may be looking up a fact (and because I write a lot about chickens, I frequent this site often) and BAM, that vetrenarian comes out with her silly sidekick. Or sometimes I go to a site and loud music starts playing. Usually I'm so startled that my cup of coffee fears for it's balance. 

Not cool. especially when I'm in a quiet space (like a library) trying to get work done. 

Solution?: Stop it. Stop it right now. It's annoying and ineffective. 


How  Exactly Can You Help Me?

Ever go to a website and wonder, “What exactly is it that you do and how can you help me?”  Yeah, me too. I don’t have patience for trying to understand what a company does, and they often lose me.

So what can you do? As I have mentioned on Savvy before, I often think of these questions posed by Steve Krug in his book, Don’t Make Me Think

  • What is this?
  • What do they have here?
  • What can I do here?
  • Why should I be here—and not somewhere else?
  • Where do I start?

Remember that you are building your website for people who may be unfamiliar with you. Are you speaking in words that are clear to them? For one example, check out WordTracker as an example of a site that uses clear language  (thank to Ben Snyder for this example that he used in the recent post, 6 Things Your Home Page Must Do (To Keep from Sucking)) .  


What Do You Do!!!!!!

I hate when the only description of the company on the home page  among a bunch of screaming graphis is the totally generic "We are a Social Media Company" or "We help with Lead Generation".  Great but that could be a software solution, a BPO, a telesales organization.  I still have no idea what you actually DO! 

Always reminds me of Finding Nemo when the little sea turtle is giving Marlin instructions about riding the currant.  Marlin says "your cute and I see your lips moving but I have no idea what you are saying!"

I tell clients your business needs a thesis statement just like your term paper did.  Instead of "We are a Social Media Company" try "We provide social media support using the industry leading analytics tools to give you better insight as to the reach and return of your social media efforts".  Based on that I know if you are the right company I am looking for so I can dive further into your site or go elsewhere.  Otherwise I am going to go elsewhere based on your generic non-information.


A Path to Nowhere

I know it's challenging to design a website that logically leads visitors down the right path based on their role and stage of the buying cycle. But that doesn't mean site visitors shouldn't be annoyed to be shuttled into a one-size-fits-all experience.

The February 2012 issue of Chief Content Officer magazine includes an article that touches upon this issue -- and offers an interesting solution. Andy McCartney of DigitalConverts presents a concept he calls an "engagement zone" that offers site visitors numerous options and encourages them to consider taking a next step before they abandon a site. (For examples, see the "Take Action Now" tab on the site and "Quick Info Access" tab on the Banyan Capital site.) Both DigitalConverts and DeverTech offer solutions to enable these zones.


Site Structure Built Around What You're Selling 

"But, wait," you say, "Isn't that how my site should be structured?"


Your site structure, navigation, and content should be built around what your customers are buying. Sound like a subtle difference? Not really.

Instead of organizing your content based on how you sell, organize it based on how people buy. What questions do they have? What information do they need? What's most important to them? What's their mindset? Are there different buyer scenarios that need to be addressed separately?

Thinking about site structure from this perspective will result in a site that makes it easier for visitors to find exactly what they need quickly. A great example of this is Ainslie Hunter's consulting site. Her homepage is dominated by three graphics that provide each visitor with a direct path to the most relevant content. Bang! You're there.

Don't make your prospects dig. Make it easy for them to get where they need to go, and you'll have an easier time converting the sale.


Too much text

Save the nitty gritty details for your back-up collateral. Web copy needs to be short and to the point. The home page should say what you do, why you do it better, and then provide some clear paths to get to more information deeper in the site (paths based on customer needs - NOT your product lines). I haven't written a web page with more than three short paragraphs since the 90's.


Comments: 5


1. Richard Bellikoff  |  my website   |   Wed Mar 14, 2012 @ 02:18PM

Not that anybody asked, but my pet peeve is any site for a sole proprietorship that has a mission statement on it. Mission statements are for organizations, and their purpose is as much internal as external, for focusing the entire team on a common goal. Individuals don't have missions, unless they happen to be superheroes whose mission is to protect us from evildoers. They can offer products and services that benefit their customers and clients, and all of that information should be prominently displayed on their sites, but putting a mission statement on a sole proprietorship's site strikes me as superfluous and bureaucratic.

2. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Mon Mar 19, 2012 @ 09:53PM

That's a great one! (And we should have asked, but forgot that closing question!)

I think those "solo mission statements" are the sign of someone so used to working in a large organization that even when they go out on their own, they can't shake that bureaucratic red tape!

It also makes me crazy when a solo entrepreneur writes their copy in the third person or constantly uses plural pronouns. If you're one person, act like it. It's nothing to be ashamed of!


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