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As website designers we know the ins and outs of good design….but our clients may not be so in tune. Clients do not know about Firefox, pop ups, and SEO. They just know they want their site to have a lot of sparkle that gives them exactly what they want when they visit a site. However uncool in the real world, their idea of their website is the best idea they could have come up with.

Clients usually have a general idea of what they want before they ever call a website designer. They browse their competition’s websites to see what they can use or improve upon. Trust me, I have heard some crazy ideas about what a client wants. Even though we give our clients free range over a project, we have to stop them sometimes because their over-the-top ideas can hurt their website, their business image, and even my company’s image. If their website looks cheap and over-the-top, we can lose business because our name is associated with their design.

Below I have complied a list of the worst things for a business to do for their website. If you have a customer that wants any of the following items then you should point out the cons of the item. You can use our list below for some quick tips.

Of course you will have some customers that just don’t get it and want their website the way they want their website. With clients like this you have a few options, make it and don’t put it in your portfolio, give them little input about the design, or just refuse to do their site (you lose money, but you save face). If you choose to refuse their business you NEED to explain to them why you are refusing them. This might keep them spreading bad press for you or it might even change their mind about their ideas.

Simple, Yet Effective

Let’s discuss the things to do before we get into the things to not do. Make the site navigation easily recognized and easy to use, make the site visually pleasing, and lastly make sure it is error free. Simple enough, so now lets get down to the best ways to make visitors give your clients website a thumbs down.

Always Over the Top, Never Over the Competition

Now let’s begin the bad ideas they have collected from clients. Clients are usually pretty easy to change, but sometimes you just have to work with their “bad” idea or face losing a customer. You just need to explain to them that an over-the-top website will not generate visitors, but could turn them away. Here is what to avoid or point out as a bad idea early in the design process.

1. Music On Load

The one thing that I hate the most is music that automatically loads when you visit a website. Usually in this case I just move on to the next website..as do most of the visitors. I listen to my own music when I surf the internet so I hate when a web site’s music blasts through my headphones and screws up my vibe. Sometimes that can throw off my design process because I was jolted out of my groove.

Most people that do not just leave the website turn the music off via the website stop button of their system volume. This part is even trickier when their is no stop button for the music (embedded background music, not a player). Clients make this mistake the most and you need to let them know that this is a bad idea because not all of their visitors have the same taste in music.

On the other hand a band or musician website may have music that automatically plays. I still recommend against it, but usually the visitors of band or musician websites are looking to hear their music, so I think that having a player is great, but playing music on page page load is a big NO NO.

2. Site Designed For One Browser

Since the beginning of the internet their has been one major browser that everyone associated the internet with. Now it is called Internet Explorer. Some people think that IE is the internet, they have never heard of Firefox, Opera, or Safari. Boy are they missing out.

A good designer should already know this but some clients may not…don’t design for one browser and leave the rest hanging. A lot of internet users are learning about other browsers through trial and error and if you do not design for their browser of choice then you may lose out on getting them a new visitor. Using the “Best Viewed In [insert browser name here]” link is not only a slap in the face of a potential visitor, but you are saying your website requires them to download something (some people take this as a virus download and quickly leave).

Bottom line, websites are meant to be dynamic, to be inviting for visitors. If you limit your browser capabilities then you limit your visitor base.

3. ALT Text Missing From Images

Do this for people who cannot see. The ALT tag is a great help for them and shows that you actually care for your visitors rather then just the people you can see. Also for all your SEO purposes, Google and Yahoo love ALT tags.

4. Automatic Pop ups / Ads Overtaking the Page

Spammers have created a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who uses the internet. Every time I see a pop up I find the X and close it without even reading it…if I wanted to subscribe to their newsletter I would find it and use the subscribe form.

First lets discuss the automatic pop ups. Most pop ups are blocked by browsers for the simple idea that people DO NOT like them. There is a million reasons why to not have a pop up on page load, but here are some of the ones that stand out the most for me:

  • Associated with spam
  • Breaks the reader’s concentration
  • Sometimes make the page reload if the visitor clicks the X link to close the window, thus starting their reading over
  • People do not really care about them and have trained themselves to not pay attention to them

Ads on a page may be a great source of income for some people, but to many just makes your client a spammer. If they have an ad blinking on very square inch of unused page then they are a spammer, but the worst kind, they spam their own visitors. A big turnoff for a lot of people are ads the are required before proceeding to the content they originally wanted to see. They are making their visitors jump through hoops to see their pages….if I was the visitor, their site would make it on the DO NOT VISIT list and their income will hopefully drop. Help them see the error of their ways and remove the ads, or atleast display them in a subtle fashion.

5. Bad Site Navigation

Always make sure to have good site navigation on your client’s website. Bad navigation is what can make or break a website. No matter how good their content is, if their visitors cannot find it then it does not exist. Always include breadcrumbs so that a visitor can find their way back to a page or to the home page. Make your client’s visitors interaction as easily as possible.

Conclusion

In conclusion, designers know the way to design a good website. If you are having a client tell you what to do even though you do not agree with them you need to let them know. Tell them how it would hurt their website in the end and could hurt their business. Hopefully they listen to your opinion.

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