Ten Key Reasons Why Websites Fail

By Greg Roberts and Albert Iannantuono

Reason #1 – They Don’t Do Anything. [AI] Web surfers don’t take the time to search and surf for the privilege of reading about your company. They visit a site for a reason: product or service information; convenience; purchase information; to learn your hours of operation and/or how to find you; download software; purchase goods, etc. Surfers know in seconds whether there are any goodies to be had, and if there aren’t, they move on. When planning your site, consider what you want to accomplish and build around that goal. Use valuable information, make it consumer friendly, in-depth, and a valuable, convenient option for people to contact you. Promote it correctly via various search engines and traditional means of marketing.

Reason #2 – They Get Stale. [AI] Not enough up-front attention is paid to the amount of support and on-going development needed to keep Web communications effective. A website is never finished. The amount of time to keep it fresh and stay up to date on where the Web is going is significant, and is something you must be dedicated to in order to achieve the desired end result.

Reason #3 – Uninspired Design. [GR] Too many sites are boring. Use interesting backgrounds, menu bars and colors. Nevertheless, boring and fast to load are better than beautiful but glacially slow any time. (See Reason #4)

Reason #4 – Too Many/Large Images. [GR] Think of the users. Many are using 14.4 or 28.8 modems. A page with large or many graphic images can take forever to download. That’s okay for a non-line art gallery, but for an information site it’s the kiss of death. Keep images to a minimum, or provide a high-graphics and low-graphics version.

Reason #5 – Frames. [GR] They often mess up the navigating with the forward and back buttons. A site with frames results in a small main window where you can barely see the information, and information is why they’re visiting the site. A well-designed site should have a menu bar on the top or sides, indicated by color or shading so it stands out.

Reason #6 – They Don’t Reflect the Company’s Core Business. [AI] You need to ensure your site is developed with your business goals, marketing and communications needs in mind. The best sites are developed with customized attention. There is a phenomenon I like to call The Jurassic Park Syndrome that has snookered a lot of Web designers. This is letting the fascination of what you can do technically determine what you put into action. The driving force needs to be your business goals.

Reason #7 – Bad Structure. [GR] I visit many sites where the only way to get from a particular section to another desired section is to back up to the main page and then select the desired section. This is bad structural design and is unfortunately very common. You should be able to navigate easily around a site. From any page on your site, make it possible to select any other section, or the main page, as well as the information in that specific section.

Reason #8 – Browser-Specific Sites. [GR] A disturbing trend in sites recently is designing specifically for either Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer, the two main Web browsers. Sites that are designed for one browser’s specific capabilities can look very strange when viewed with the other browser. A few very in hospitable sites don’t even allow you to visit them if you aren’t browsing with Explorer. Give your site a common design, or provide two versions of the site, one for Netscape Navigator and another for Microsoft Explorer.

Reason #9 – They Lack Professional Planning. [AI] The same companies that insist on professionals to design their brochures have turned to their brothers-in-law and relatives or their neighbor’s kids with perhaps basic computer knowledge for their websites. Anyone can HTML a document. In fact, word processing and desktop software packages are being developed with an HTML “save as” feature. The software companies have some improvements to make to this feature, but it’s only a matter of time before your corporate newsletter can be saved to look like the printed version on the Web. But can anyone design a solid communications piece that not only gets your message out there, but motivates the decision to bite? That’s what your website is a communication opportunity.

Reason #10 – Nobody Knows About Them. [AI] There was a point in 1996 when the experts estimated there were more Web pages than Web users. It’s not surprising that a site can get lost in the crowd. websites aren’t the only initiatives out there to get lost in a crowd. There are many wonderful inventions and projects that never get off the ground for lack of marketing. The strategies for driving traffic to your site are numerous, from search engine registration to public relations and cross-marketing. And they don’t have to be expensive. Simply choosing an easy-to-remember domain name makes a huge difference. The key is to do it.

Too many people rush full speed ahead into developing a Web presence without developing specific goals and without thought to generating productive traffic and measuring success. Often they make the mistake of hiring someone who understands technology, but knows little about their business. Good Web designers use the above criteria to define their approach, and as a result, Web mania will have a successful, active portfolio of valuable sites.

Albert Iannantuonno is President and Creative Director of Tri-Media Marketing & Publicity, Inc., based in Niagara since 1986. Greg Roberts is the Editor of Parliamentary Names & Numbers and Technical Coordinator for Sources Media Directory.

Reprinted with permission for Sources HotLink and Business Niagara.

[From Connection Magazine, July 1997]

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