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Amateur Website Hallmarks to Avoid

Are you in business and ready to develop your business' website? Do you want to grow your business, gain prospective customers' trust and confidence, and enhance your professional image? Then avoid these ten pitfalls, common to amateur websites, like the plague.

Hit Counters

Not only are hit counters a visual blight on a web page, but they do not provide any meaningful data. For a single web page that has five images and a style sheet, the hit counter will record at least seven hits. They do not provide information on how many visitors have come to the site or which pages they've viewed. Plus, hit counter numbers are easily manipulated (in other words, inflated). Finally, a serious business protects its web traffic information as valuable strategic data and does not put it up for public (or its competitors') view.

"Under Construction" or "Coming Soon" Web Pages

If you haven't built it, don't show it. Don't waste your customers' time by having them click to pages that have no information. Will they check back later? Probably not—you've just annoyed them. A skilled web designer can develop new sections on a "staging" site, and then make the sections live when they are complete. The only "coming soon" notice on your site should be product announcements designed to heighten interest.

Specific Browser Requirements

Start off by telling potential customers they're using the wrong browser and see how friendly they feel toward your business. You've just lost a sale. Don't block your customers with technology. Make sure your site is developed to work with all standard browsers and platforms. You're in business to get customers and sales, and you won't get them by having a fussy website.

Poor Quality Graphics

Nothing screams "AMATEUR" more than poor quality graphics. Are the colors muddy? Are the edges fuzzy? Is the site littered with cheap clip art? Are the photos blurred, dark, or grainy? Do the pages take forever to load? Unless cheap and amateurish is the look you're going for, invest in quality graphics and design. What people see on your website is how people will view your business. Don't chase them away on the first glance.

"Welcome to my Website"

The use of this phrase is so ubiquitous on beginners' websites that it can be seen as a form of web spam. People know they're on a website—it's a "duh" statement. Plus, it's a waste of web real estate. You won't find this on real business websites: Apple Computer, Office Depot, HP, Sears, LL Bean. They know better. If you feel you must welcome visitors to your site, at least use your business name to gain a tiny bit of search engine impact. And make it visually small and tasteful.

Obvious Free Web Hosting

Nothing wrong with free web hosting if you can get it. But most free hosting forces you to carry graphic ads all over your website. Are you in business for yourself or to promote the business of strangers? Many of these ads are large, ugly, and since you have no control over content, possibly offensive. Web hosting isn't that expensive—think of it as an investment in your business. Don't let your hard-earned visitors be lured away or run off.

Use of Anything Blinking

Making graphics or text blink was obnoxious when it was commonplace. But that was back in the '90's, so passe as to be prehistoric in Internet-time. If your designer thinks it's cool, he's the only one. Just say no!

Use of Non-Matching Email Address

Use of an email address other than your domain does not inspire confidence or establish credibility with customers. Nor is it professional to use a free email address (hotmail, yahoo) for business. The email address you use for your business should match your website address (domain name): If you want to forward your business email to another email account, fine. Just don't let that address be what you give to your customers, or put on your website or marketing materials.

Absence of Design

No design at all? Just text on a web page, maybe with a color background? No content formatting? This non-look says either "I don't care," or "I'm a here-today, gone-tomorrow business." Certainly nothing to assure customers. If you can't care enough about your website to get it developed with a look and feel to complement and enhance your business, why should anyone else care about your website, or your business?

Lack of Attention to Detail

Are there broken graphics on your website? Broken links? Forms that don't work? Bits of coding visible on the page? Are there spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors? This lack of attention to detail will sink your business. People are critical. They see this carelessness on your site and assume it translates over to your business. Any errors on your website will damage your credibility and erode customer trust and confidence.

Avoid these amateur missteps, and you're on your way to a professional website.

About Cool Plum Design

Cool Plum Design is a full-service web design business. We work with clients throughout the United States who need to represent their business online. We offer quality, customer-focused solutions integrating design, functionality, and content.

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