All of us want to show off our business or expertise in some way. Our websites not only give us the opportunity to do so, but give us a way to do it in an attractive and personalized way. We can make a platform that is truly our own and visually breathtaking for visitors, in hopes that it will drive them to buy or contact us. But sometimes, we can overdo it, adding features that really just complicate the overall user experience.
Here are some examples of things you should avoid including in your website:
1. "Creative" Navigation
Let's face it. You want your site to stand out. If not, why bother making it. In pursuit of creating something different, you think about how you can have visitors navigate your site in a 'different' way. Maybe that be changing the way your cursor interacts with links on the page, or how your site scrolls.
You can do this, but should you?
People are used to navigating sites a certain way. That's why almost all sites on the internet have similar layouts and styles. They usually all scroll the same way and things on the screen interact with each other almost identically across all websites. By suddenly changing up the way people interact with a website, you're most likely to create a negative experience for that user. Regardless if on paper it seems aesthetically pleasing, in practice it might be a nightmare if they have to figure out how it works while digesting the content of your website.
2. Pop-up Calls To Action
All my marketers and e-commerce gurus might disagree. They've been using it on their stores for what seems like forever, but if you ask any of your visitors, they're probably really annoyed by it.
Now hold on, before you disregard every other thing I'll talk about in this article, let me clarify. I mean those pop-ups that appear 1 second after your site loads. Those that don't even let you know what the site is about before you're slapped in the face with a "Sign up to our newsletter!" Nobody likes those.
If you're going to use pop-up CTA's make sure you use them intentionally, not hopefully.
For example, a visitor clicks to go to checkout, you can have a pop-up that cross-sells a similar product, or perhaps a discount code in exchange for their email. In this case, you have let the visitor navigate and familiarize themselves with the site before you shove something in their face.
Now this is a tricky one. I'm not necessarily opposed to all carousels, and they can work depending on the site. However, I by no means would have them a main focal point on one of my sites.
In the past, they were all the rage, and for good reason. They allow for multiple pieces of content in the same space, as well as give the opportunity to show off quality pictures. The issue comes back to usability.
If your intention with the carousel is purely cosmetic - team photos, secondary content, testimonials - than go for it. But, if your plan is to go the traditional route and have a different call-to-action on each slide with different content than I advise against it.
The reason for this is that users don't have control over the carousel's navigation. Some are confusing to interact with and sometimes you can be finished with the content on one slide while you wait for the next slide to appear. This is why they may be great for non-important content, but if your site's navigation depends on it, put the content somewhere else.
4. Long Paragraphs
It should come as no surprise that people don't want to spend much time reading on your website. Keeping them on one section for a long time when your site has much more to offer is a sure way to make sure visitor fatigue sets in. You might have their interest for that paragraph, but once it's done, you've basically drained them of their attention.
Keep your text short, simple, and to the point. Your storytelling should be dispersed throughout the entire site, not just one extensive paragraph. If you, by all means, need to have a long explanation of some sorts, keep it on pages where users expect large amounts of text, such as the 'About Us', 'FAQ's', 'Resources', etc.
5. Extensive Forms
Give more than you take. We don't always do this though. Unless you're performing a background check for a government official you don't need a large number of fields in the forms on your site. The more is not the merrier in this case and each additional field you include could cost you a user submission. Visitors will get frightened by the amount of information they have to input and you can bet they'll be off your site before you even know they visited.
Keep it to the basic information - name, email, phone number or whatever info is just enough for you to proceed with that lead. I'm all for automation, but sometimes including more leads, for the sake of saving ourselves the work of a phone call or email isn't always worth it.
If there's anything to takeaway from this, it's to make your site simple and user-friendly. Think about how you would interact if you were a visitor or even how you navigate other sites. By putting yourself in their shoes, you'll find that it's much easier to create a site than you would've previously imagined.