Perhaps because of the potential and ease of WordPress website design, most people continue to commit some of the worst website design don’ts that drive their visitors mad or away. How about you? Have you ever…
Distracted Your Visitors?
Keep in mind that the one thing your website visitors want to do is browse your website. They are not there to gawk at ads or look on in wonderment at your interactive menus. Here are three things that people always do in their WordPress website design, and that always distract their visitors from doing what they want:
- Excessive display ads — A single ad in a page can be distracting, especially if it is placed somewhere within an article being read for maximum exposure. A plethora of ads would irk visitors to no end. Worse still are flash-based ads that shine, sparkle, or even play sounds. The design and placement of your ads should be taken into consideration. Most ad program providers like Google AdSense allow you to tweak ads — make good use of such features.
- Roll-over navigation and widgets — When you’re playing around with interactive navigation features for your website design, it might be cool how your navigation panels expand when the mouse pointer rolls over them, but this distracts visitors from general browsing. If they choose to put up with the inconvenience, they’ll need to be careful not to unintentionally roll the mouse pointer over the navigation bar or widgets (like the ubiquitous social sharing widget with the collection of syndication buttons).
- Interactive elements with a mind of their own — If you want to spruce up your WordPress website design with embedded videos or flash animations, make sure you give full control of them over to your visitors. Do not make it a default feature for every interactive element in every webpage to play on its own without permission. This distracts your visitors and takes away the degree of perceived control that these elements are supposed to be for in the first place. The only exceptions are when users explicitly request a video or animation to play once the webpage loads.
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Interrupted Your Visitors?
Note that there is a difference between distracting visitors and downright interrupting them — the latter is much worse. Distractions only tend to make people lose their focus on what they were doing, but interruptions are outright hindrances to specific actions that people are doing. In this case, most people looking around your website can be “distracted” while they take a look around, but people intent on buying something, for instance, can be “interrupted” in the middle of the specific process. Among the most typical interruptions include:
- Pop ups — It has been decades since users first denounced pop ups but to this day they still exist. If you must resort to pop ups, use ones that attract attention smoothly, like popping up from below a page, taking up enough space to be noticed but not the entire screen. Also, only use pop ups for very enticing offers, such as discounts or special promotions, instead of generic “sign up” or “buy now” pitches. This way, you preempt any irritation because you interrupted your visitors with something they might benefit from.
- Required Sign Ups on Checkout — First purchase visitors are great repeat business leads, but there are better ways to get them to sign up other than interrupting them during the check out process. You’re practically delaying sales just because you think they might never come back. Remember that you are offering a sign up option for their convenience, and while they’re checking out it would be most convenient if you do not interrupt. Some options in this area include social sign ups that require only a few clicks or permissions, or, since you will probably need a functioning email address of some sort anyway, simply begin an email lead nurturing campaign for first time customers — the point here is that you allow them the option to sign up at a more convenient time.
- Requiring Sign up or subscription after offering the first part of an article — There is nothing wrong with showcasing a great article and requiring subscription or sign up to view it, but you need to ensure that the way you approach the matter does not leave your audience feeling like you were forcing them into it. For instance, do not let them begin reading without even setting their expectations that they are reading a limited article. Another option is to present an abstract and an outline of what the article discusses.
Annoyed Your Visitors?
We have gone from distracting people to interrupting them and finally annoying them. The worst thing your website design can do is annoy your visitors, because frankly, there are thousands of other websites out there and they need not suffer yours. Try to avoid:
- Excessive social sharing and content syndication buttons — Group them into one place or area, and don’t smother your layout with buttons, links, and badges that all scream how desperate you are for social attention. Lessen the clutter and know that if your content is link-worthy and share-worthy, even without the buttons, people will be sharing them.
- Requiring info capture several times — Some instances require multiple form submissions, but always endeavour to ensure that you have ways of knowing if you already have a visitor’s details before asking for them again. Not only does this annoy your leads but it also pollutes your database.
- Slow loading times due to extraneous code — What code snippets do you have within your website? Analytics and Webmaster tools code? A dozen or so ads? Several video and flash codes? A handful of widgets? Reduce the heavy codes that cause your website pages to load slower. Visitors landing on your webpages from search results will give your website an average of five seconds to load the important content before they start thinking about looking elsewhere.
If you plead guilty to some of these, it’s about high time to find alternative ways to get what you want without committing these website design don’ts.