As a business owner, it's important to remember you only have a couple of seconds - literally - to get your visitor's attention in a good way, or they will click Back and you won't see them again. First impressions are incredibly important in determining whether your website convinces someone to take a closer look, and, ultimately, call you. There are a few things, though, that are just killers in terms of making an immediately negative impression. What you have to realize is that it doesn't matter how good the rest of your website is, or how good your services are, if you fail this first test with your visitor.
In terms of what makes a "good" website design, that's a subject for many books since there is, in fact, a lot of research behind what design strategies and components convert visitors into callers. That's not my subject today, though. Today, I'm talking about some specific things that you should avoid. If you have any of these things in your own website, you should definitely take some sort of immediate action to do something about it.
1. Auto-Play Music
Don't have your website set to automatically start playing any sort of audio as soon as someone lands on it, unless the entire page is either about music itself, or it's a landing page with a video as the main feature. Otherwise, anything with an audio component should not be activated unless the user chooses to activate it. As a whole, people tend to have a negative reaction to such automatic background music because it's seen as an unwanted intrusion. Furthermore, there's the distinct possibility that whatever music you like, your visitor won't. It's one thing to have a professional relationship with your website visitors, but that doesn't mean making them listen to your favorite song every time they come to your website. It's also unnecessary bandwidth usage for mobile users and slows things down while the music file is transferred.
2. Tiny/Large Font Sizes
Your website should be pleasing to the eye, and either tiny or unnecessarily large fonts are sure to ruin not only the aesthetic quality of your website, but the actual usability. If the font is so big that they have to lean back in order to take it in, then it's too big. Conversely, keep in mind that just because you can read tiny text just fine, that doesn't mean that your visitors can. Always remember that your website is there to represent your business in the best possible way to potential clients/customers, and not everyone can read tiny text easily. You want them to have a good experience with your website right off the bat, because they are going to extrapolate from that experience what the rest of their relationship with you is likely to be like.
Although there are cases where pop-up windows can serve a useful purpose, such as letting a shopper know they still have items in their shopping cart they may have forgotten about, if you are running a small local business then pop-up windows are something you should avoid. They just tend to annoy most people. If someone is looking for either a landscaper, or a restaurant to go out to dinner, people want to feel like they are in control of their online shopping experience, and annoying them with a pop-up window is a sure way to give them a not-so-great experience with you right off the bat. As a general rule, don't do it.
Why might you use pop up windows? As I mentioned, one scenario is to let visitors know they still have items in their shopping cart. Another potential use is to offer the visitor a discount when they are about to leave your website without having contacted you. If they took the trouble to look at your website, but then leave, maybe they simply aren't convinced yet that you're the right vendor. Giving them an unannounced discount offer can sometimes tip people over the edge into deciding to buy from. You have to be careful, though, if you are serving a local area around you, because you aren't just talking about random internet shoppers browsing through your website. You're talking about the same potential customer base, over and over again, so I do not generally recommend any sort of pop-up strategy in this situation.
4. Glaring Colors
Don't use a lot of glaring or high-contrast colors. Your website should have a nice overall aesthetic flow, be easy on the eyes, and make it very easy for a visitor to quickly scan through your site and naturally have their eyes fall right onto your Call to Action (CTA), whether it's a Call Now button, contact form, etc. Your CTA needs to 'pop' to catch their eye, but if you use a lot of strong colors everywhere else, it will be a lot more difficult for your CTA to do so. I'm starting to cross over into some very technical aspects of neuroscience and how the brain works, which isn't really the purpose of this article, so just remember to be careful in your use of strong or contrasting colors. It's very easy to use too much.
In closing, remember that you only have a couple of seconds to get a visitor's attention and convince them to stick around a little longer and see what you have to offer. You can easily ruin that first impression with autoplay audio files, tiny text, pop-up windows, and glaring colors. If you need help fixing any of these things, visit me right over here.