The internet has been around awhile. Websites have transitioned from novelties to essential tools that all serious businesses are expected to provide. Using that tool effectively by making an attractive and highly functional for site visitors is a critical task for modern law firms, and luckily, doing so is a relatively straightforward task.
With years of experience under everyone’s collective belt, you’d think avoiding web design disasters would be a simple goal that almost all site owners achieve. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Many sites ruin the browsing experience by making it hard to find information, difficult to use or just plain unpleasant to visit.
Aesthetic preferences are individual, so you can’t expect everyone to love the same look. But beyond personal variation, there are some things virtually all web users agree on. Here are seven serious website issues that make your site unappealing to visitors – and therefore ineffective as the marketing tool you want it to be:
- Overly busy pages. Giving visitors plenty of information is good, but presenting it in a chaotic, cluttered form is counter-productive. Features like news updates, social media feeds, blog post teasers and special offers can be nice additions, but using them in bulk only makes things messy. Choose what’s most important and limit the features that appear on each page. The goal is to make your website feel pleasant and peaceful, not lead to confusion and a deep desire to go home and clear all the surfaces.
- Too many fonts. With plenty of proprietary and open-source fonts available, it’s never been easier to create the look you want, typographically speaking. The problem comes when you try to pack too many of them into a single site. To keep a consistent, professional and clean look, most sites shouldn’t try to include more than two or three different fonts.
- Too little information. Minimalism is a fine thing, but only to the point that it clarifies rather than mystifying. Avoid getting too creative or cute when naming tabs for navigation. Keep overhead navigation bars on desktop sites rather than going with the hamburger. When you ask for information, explain what will happen – is it the newsletter signup or the contact form?
- Annoying pop-ups. Pop-up windows are the bane of internet users. Everyone hates interference from screens with demands to sign up, register or open a chat window, and yet websites continue to use them. Just don’t! At best, visitors will click them closed with increasing frustration. More likely, they’ll leave the site entirely, taking with them a negative impression of your firm. Make sign-ups, downloads and contact forms easily accessible for those who want to utilize these features. Give everyone else the gift of unfettered access to your content. They’ll thank you by sticking around longer, which is what you really want.
- Lame stock photography. The photos on your site have a big impact on its quality. Take advantage of the wealth of wonderful and unique images available today, whether it’s photos you take yourself, those you have taken by a professional photographer or carefully chosen, high quality stock images. Whatever you do, don’t settle for generic, over-used or just plain lousy stock photos. Instead of adding interest, they only detract from the impression your site makes on visitors.
- Blurry graphic content. Have you ever noticed a website with a blurry logo, chart or other graphic? Of course you have, and so has everyone else. It’s almost as though site owners say to themselves, “It’s a little blurry blown, but no one will notice.” They’re wrong. Everyone notices and everyone thinks less of the brands that allow this inferior graphic content to be a part of their site.
- Auto-play video content. Want to drive people away from your site in droves? It’s simple: use autoplaying videos. Nothing spikes bounce rates as effectively as this offense on autonomy. Video content itself can be a welcome addition to a website, but you can’t force it on visitors. If it plays unbidden, video becomes an audible assault that won’t be forgiven soon. Let website users choose whether and when to play your videos or you’ll end up without any repeat visitors.
Your website’s appearance and function have a powerful impact on the impression visitors form of it (and by extension, of your law firm). Avoid these website blunders wisely to ensure your site and its visitors speak highly of you. You wouldn’t want to repeat the things they’d say upon encountering one or more of these major issues.