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We’ve challenged you to fix your contact form and scolded you for startling visitors with music. One way or another all of the rookie mistakes we’ve covered in this series can cost you business without adding any value to your website.
But perhaps one of the most common mistakes, because there are so many ways to make it, is the misuse of technology. If you’re making this mistake, it probably cost you time and money to do it, and now it’s going to cost you time and money to undo it.
Fixing technology issues isn’t always quick and easy, but it will force you to do something you probably neglected to do before building your site in the first place: plan it, think about its purpose and decide what action you want visitors to take once they reach it. Then build the site around those goals and not around the latest and greatest technology.
Mistake #8: Misusing Technology
Everywhere you look online these days something pops, sings, flashes, moves, spins. Something is vying for your attention. Sometimes multiple things are vying for your attention at once. There are so many cool technologies that can create a nearly living, breathing web site that you’re excited to use them all.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with new technologies or wanting to use them, the problem arises when the means is the end… using a technology just because. There are lots of ways to make this mistake, but here are a few of the more annoying and damaging.
Loading… 10%… 12%… 15%… 30%… 31%… 32%… 33%…
What’s worse than not being able to get to your web site at all? Getting to your web site and being forced to wait while your Flash animation loads one percentage point at a time. You might be wondering why this is worse than not getting to your site at all.
At least you’ve got the customer’s attention, right? Wrong.
It’s worse because you had the chance to catch someone’s attention… you made the effort to get them all the way to your site… and then you blew it half a yard from the goal line.
You have a matter of seconds to pull customers in before their attention is diverted elsewhere. Why would you blow that on a loading animation? Chances are your animation isn’t even important. You could accomplish the same thing – nay, you could accomplish much more – without it.
Getting over the Flash addiction isn’t easy. It requires rethinking and redesigning your page or even your whole site. But the benefit is that you won’t end up with customers who, when faced with the dreaded progress bar, simply click their way to your competitor.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t use Flash, just do so in moderation, make sure it’s relevant to your site and be aware of how it could be interfering with visitors getting to what they need.
The Blink Blink Blink Tag
There’s not much to say about this one except that it’s incredibly annoying and more likely than not will drive your customer, if not into seizures, than at least to another web site.
We get it. You really, really, really want to impress a point upon us. Maybe it’s free shipping or click here or whatever you think is important enough to brand across our brains. Trust us, it doesn’t work.
Be smarter than that and use colors, headings or design elements to draw our attention instead of gimmicks.
Lots of times this happens when there’s third-party advertising on a site. In one corner you’ve got an auto playing video ad, in another corner you’ve got an animated gif, somewhere else you’ve got a Flash animation. And that’s exactly why someone invented ad blocking software, because nobody wants to be bombarded by a constant stream of visual anarchy.
We may have developed a knack for multitasking, but we function best when we’re focused. If you’re distracting your visitor with ocular overkill, you could be losing customers before they ever even notice your blinking “buy now” font.
Ads aren’t the only culprit. Some web site owners simply get giddy with effects and add a snippet of motion here, a tad of Flash there, and like a kid playing dress-up with mom’s jewelry, end up with a big mess on their hands.
Keep it simple. Keep your visitor’s attention focused on the task at hand as you’ve defined it: read more, sign up, buy now or whatever it may be. Redesign your site if you have to; just get rid of the mindless animations.
Auto Playing Video
We touched on this when we talked about music, but it’s worth mentioning again because video is so prominent. If you use video on your site, that’s fantastic. People love to watch a good video and you can really humanize yourself, your company and your brand with video. Just don’t automatically start playing it when someone lands on the page.
People want to engage with your site. They want to click and watch and read and experience everything you can offer. They do not want the experience imposed upon them. If you think that the only way to get someone to watch your video is to start playing it right away then your site isn’t doing its job.
Call it a leftover from our days as defiant toddlers, but we’ve all got that same reaction deep inside us… put it there for me and I’ll happily explore. Tell me to watch it and I’ll hold my breath and turn blue. Let your visitors choose to watch your video. If it’s worthwhile, trust us, they will.
There are so many technologies out there that it would be impossible for us to preempt your misuse of every one. But we can help you avoid making costly mistakes if you follow this one piece of advice: before you add any kind of effect to your web site, ask yourself if it has a purpose that is directly related to furthering your end.
Will it improve your chances of turning a visitor into a paying customer, or will it distract, divert and obscure? If it’s the latter, then don’t waste money using the technology in the first place and more money recreating your site without it later.
Has an animation, effect or other visual diversion driven you away from a website? What was the final straw?
Read More In The “Rookie Mistakes” Series
- Rookie Mistake 1: Annoy Customers With Your Contact Form
- Rookie Mistake 2: Use Bad Photography
- Rookie Mistake 3: Bad Links
- Rookie Mistake 4: Dead Links Pointing To Your Site
- Rookie Mistake 5: Forgetting You’re Not A Rock Star
- Rookie Mistake 6: Too Much (Useless) Information
- Rookie Mistake 7: Dizzy Background
- Rookie Mistake 8: Misusing Technology
- Rookie Mistake 9: Mangling Your META Data
- Rookie Mistake 10: No Call To Action