Building up traffic to your website is challenging enough, but increasing your conversion rate is even tougher. Web design has never been easy, even with the help of powerful and flexible content management systems. People rarely have a great deal of patience when it comes to browsing the Internet, and if their first impression of your business's website is not a good one, they will usually leave in a matter of seconds, never to return again. Following are eight of the most common website characteristics which turn people away. Avoiding these common mistakes of Web design will help you to increase your traffic as well as your conversion rate.



1 – Poor Navigation


Having clear navigational features on your website is an absolute must. If your menus, links and buttons are arranged inconsistently or do not have a clearly defined purpose, your visitors will quickly become frustrated and start looking elsewhere. These days, good navigation is rather more complicated to achieve due to the much greater number of ways in which people use the Internet. No longer can you cater just for desktop and laptop users – your site should also be easily navigable on the small screens of mobile devices. Optimizing your site for touchscreen input is also a must in the era of smartphones and tablet computers.



2 – Thin Content


Content is the driving force of the Web, and creating engaging content is one of the most challenging tasks of all when it comes to marketing your business online. Content, whether in the form of text, images or videos, needs to provide something useful or interesting to your readers. It needs to stand out among the competition. Thin content is often that which is written primarily with search engine rankings in mind. It might temporarily boost traffic to your website in some cases, but it won't do you any favours in the longer term. Make sure that your content provides value to your visitors. Ensure that your research is thorough and your content is unique.



3 – Long Loading Times


Having a slow website is one of the fastest ways to kill your online business. If all people are greeted with when they visit your website is a loading status bar or a blank page for more than a few seconds, they will quickly start turning away in droves. Ensuring that your site's content is well optimized will help greatly to reduce the chances of this happening. Always be careful with the use of high quality images and other content, and don't go over the top with excessively elaborate design themes which drain your bandwidth. Also, you should make sure that your Web hosting company isn't to blame. If it is, it is certainly time to change.



4 – Too Many Advertisements


When used in moderation, advertisements can bring in a considerable amount of revenue to your website. However, if they are intrusive in any way, your visitors will rapidly get annoyed and click the back button. Sites which make excessive use of advertising are also becoming increasingly likely to get penalized by the search engines. If you must have advertisements on your website, always ensure that they do not use up too much valuable on-screen real estate. It should also go without saying that you must always avoid popups unless your intention is to quickly infuriate your visitors.



5 – Obtrusive Use of Audio or Video


Video content in particular can be extremely valuable on a website. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video can be worth a million. However, your visitors will generally want to be able to choose the content they view. You have probably visited sites in the past which automatically play and audio or video track as soon as you visit them. Most people find this extremely annoying and intrusive. Allow your visitors to choose the content to play, and instead provide a short textual description to introduce the content rather than having it play automatically. Finally, avoid background music, particularly if it is automated.



6 – Registration Requirements


Most of us have so many online accounts for everything from social networks to forums that we rapidly lose track of login details and grow tired of constantly filling in registration forms. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid registration requirements, since it will turn many people away and also prevent the search engines from indexing any content hidden behind the registration barrier. If you are running an online shop, it is also a good idea to give customers the option of registering or being able to purchase something without having to register. Where possible, avoid having any barriers for your visitors to have to work around.



7 – Outdated Content


Content which is outdated can be next to useless to your human visitors, and it is likely to hurt your standing in the search engines sooner or later. This is particularly the case with blogs and other websites which are particularly time-sensitive. If people return to your website only to find that its content hasn't been updated for several weeks, they will rapidly stop coming. Ensure that your content is always kept up-to-date, and unless you are running a static website, keep adding new content to keep your visitors coming back for more. You may also want to add an RSS feature to your site, allowing people to receive news about any updates.



8 – Risky Colour Schemes and Typography


Every webmaster wants to have a great looking site which people will be able to recognize and remember. However, while unique and eye-catching design styles are important, it is also easy to go overboard when it comes to using fancy typography and colour schemes. You should always make sure that your site is easy on the eyes and your content is legible before thinking about the actual design theme. The style of your website should be consistent and representative of your business and your niche. Be particularly careful when using bright or fluorescent colours, since these can end up being distracting and intrusive. Likewise, ensure your fonts are easy to read.


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