Monday, November 22, 2010

Website Killers

We're frequently asked how we select the Art Site of the Week. There's no magic formula; we try to feature sites that illustrate useful ideas or new features, but sometimes a site just catches our eye!

However, there are many sites that are almost sure NOT to be selected, because of design flaws that make the sites difficult or frustrating to navigate and view. These are things to avoid when creating an artist website, because they will cause many users to leave you site without viewing it.

  1. Music on the site.  Contrary to what you might think, music does not enhance the user's experience.  Visitors may be in an environment where they can't listen to the music, or they may simply not like your choice.  Whatever the reason, analysis of web logs shows that a significant percentage of visitors leave immediately when the music starts.  So unless you are trying to drive people away from your site - get rid of the music.
  2. Long load times.  The web has made people impatient!  If you site takes more than a few seconds the load, visitors will often leave.  This is often a problem for Flash websites. 
  3. Amateurish design.  Design is subjective, but studies show that people judge you by the quality of your website.  If it looks amateurish, visitors are unlikely to take your work seriously.  If you don't have the skills to create a professional looking website, consider hiring someone to do it for you.
  4. Hidden or 'mystery' navigation.  Sorry, the visitor doesn't know that the little easel icon is a lin to your portfolio...  and probably won't bother to try it.  If you want people to find their way around your site, spell it out!
  5. Inconsistent navigation.  Make sure the same navigation choices appear in the same place on every page (typically at the top or left edge).  Visitors who can't easily find what they are looking for frequently leave.
  6. Typos and spelling errors.  While not as serious as some of the other website flaws, typos and mistakes make a site look less professional.  If you are not confident with your spelling and grammar skills, have someone proofread your site.
  7. Display problems.  Artist websites often use advanced Javascript, CSS, and server-side scripting to deliver advanced features.  However, these features may cause the site to display incorrectly in some browsers.  (Most professional web designers test on the two most recent versions of each of the major browsers, and versions 6 through 8 of Internet Explorer...  another good reason to hire a professional.)
  8. Proprietary plugins.  You website should not require the visitor to download and install something in order to view it, because very few visitors will.
There are many potential problems that will make visitors leave, rather than explore your website, but the list above represents the problems we see most frequently.  Check your own site, and if you have any of these problems, it's time to fix them.

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