20 Website Mistakes That Cost Me Three Years And $22,000

Written By: Catherine Franz

“Learn from others mistakes,” my Mom always advised me.
Learn from mine, save three precious marketing years, tons
of frustration, energy, and come out way ahead of the game.
Best of all, this will not create a loss of sales, as it did for me.

1. If you use a shopping cart, check if the zip code request
appears before the city and state on the order form. Most
carts don’t do this. Why is this important? Because if
ordering is not easy, I mean real easy, for your buyers,
they drop out in the process. Ordering should be as
effortless as possible for the purchaser.

If the zip code is before the city and state and is set to
drop their city and state into the next two fields
automatically, it saves the purchaser’s time. Believe it or
not, this one “little” item leaves a memory chip and they
will remember the experience in the future. Did you know
that 60% of buyers opt-out and don’t complete the
transaction because of the little things?

2. Do you have boxes or radial buttons that they need to
check off in the ordering process? If you do, then go ahead
and fill-in the checkmark “in” for them. Let them uncheck it if
they do not want the choice you gave them. Again,
making it easier to buy from you and reduce the chance of
them leaving before completing the transaction.

If you have a questionnaire or survey form, check all the
“yes” categories or one of the radial buttons for them so
they don’t have to do the work. They will remember the
experience as “easy” and it will be imprinted in their minds for
the next purchase or experience with you.

3. Many people forget to set up the “error page” on their
web site. Do not leave that to chance. Ask them questions
on the error page so that you will know what occurred. Example:
“Tell me how you saw this page please.” Add your e-mail
address. Hyperlink the address and spell out the full
address for those with different browsers. Make it easy for
people to identify any errors on your web site so you can
fix them quickly.

If you think that will never happen to you and that you have
checked your links repeatedly, it can still happen.
Software has glitches and they happen to be the best of the
best. In addition, an error page is a great place to add
other hyperlinked navigational bars (a list of the main areas
of your web site). Also, offer an opportunity for them to
enroll in your ezine here as well.

4. Omit the metaphors. Most adults do not have the time or
the patience to play games on the Internet. If your market
is teens, this is a different story. Teenagers will enjoy
the entertainment.

If you offer an entertaining feature on your site, you will
need to carryout the theme throughout your site, otherwise
they will leave as soon as it stops. This has occurred
quite often lately as professionals add video to their site
(considered entertainment) and then the rest of the site is
flat. They get a lot of hits to the video and then no
response on the call to action that they have set up.

5. Please do not activate “under construction” pages. Wait
until the page is ready and then upload it. If you are
using FrontPage, you can remove it from the Navigational
system by right clicking on the page and turning it off.

6. Don’t beat around the bush with your visitors. Make your
message so clear that even a ten year old will understand
it. Make the language conversational — easy English.

7. Make your “buy me” buttons “Amazon” blue. Backed by good
research, Amazon has trained millions of their visitors in
this color and in their design style. Use their success to
your advantage. Visit http://www.amazon.com to see what
“Amazon” blue looks like.

8. Do you offer a search form on your site? You need to.
Once again — making it easy for your visitors to find the
information they want quickly. Here is a tip that I learned
only a few months ago that has paid big since. After all I
have read and learned over the past 10 years, nothing was
every mentioned about this. When someone searches for
something and it is not found, set up a default-selling

Here are a few ideas on how to use the default page when
their search comes up empty. Offer them a 10% coupon for
something else, or for anything on your site. Tell them
this is a one-time offer (they will not know otherwise). On
the other hand, you could provide a list of available
discounts or offer them a choice of sections to proceed to.
Do not let them get the “Can’t find a match” message at any

9. When collecting visitor information for your database, do
it one step at a time. Do not try to do everything at once.
If you offer an ezine, the first step is to ask for their e-
mail address only. After they type that in, take them to
another page to answer questions.

Alternatively, you can send them an auto responder asking
them questions. Better yet, send them to a survey page
after they have subscribed to your newsletter. You will
enjoy an increase in subscribers and survey submissions.

10. If you use drop down menus for your states or countries,
remove them. “Techies” like drop down menus, but visitors
don’t. Let the visitor type in their state and country. It
is ten times faster and much easier than looking through a
long list searching for a state and country. Even if the
United States is at the top, it still makes the buyer

11. The best way to give your visitors what they want is to
keep it simple. This is especially true for the landing
page of your web site. The landing page is your main or
index page.

What do you want your visitors to do when they reach your
site? If they are there to subscribe to your ezine
(electronic newsletter), send them to that page by giving
them that immediate option. Then send them to a page that
focuses them on subscribing. Give them all the information
they need to make a choice and to subscribe. If they are
first-time visitors, where do they click first?

For example, if you are a coach, ask them if they want to
know more about coaching. If you are a virtual assistant
(VA), send them to a page or two about what a VA does and
how you help your clients. After they get to the next page,
give them choice of different areas where you can help them
as a virtual assistant or a coach.

Walk them through the process in steps, “hold their hand” as
you lead them through all the things that you can do for
them. Create a walk-through easy-to-follow effect. It will
pay off in profits.

12. Do not add any pages to the site that do not pertain
to the visitors’ reasons for coming to your site. People do
not have time for irrelevant information.

13. You do not need an engineer or a web site designer to
design your website. In fact, while they would not like to
hear this, you do not need them. They may do everything
right technically, but they do not know how to get people to
stay at your site or buy from you.

Marketers know how to do that. While 98% of engineers and
web site designer claim they are marketers, less than 1%
know anything about marketing. The truly rare commodity is
a fantastic marketer who is savvy about web site design.

Building your site is just like building a house: without an
architect who knows about layout, structure air flow, etc.,
all you have is a construction company building the house
from their sense of style, direction and beliefs.

Know where the advice is coming from and hire them only for
their expertise. If you are reading an article on marketing
on the Internet that was written by someone who is a web
site designer, a red flag should go up.

If you are talking with a marketer who does not have web
site design experience and you are looking for help in
building your web site, raise that flag again. The rare
person with the unique combination may be hard to find, but
we exist — I designed my learning to be one of those rare

I have helped many people clean up their web site after they
have worked with web designers and/or marketers. And trust
me, the clean up is more time consuming than starting all

14. Don’t make your buyer feel stupid while they are in the
process of buying from you — in the “cart” process.
Internet service providers (ISPs and web site hosts) do this
frequently. Just one example of this is when they ask their
nontechie buyers the option, “Choose your server”

The majority of their buyers have no idea what this means.
They do not understand that you are asking if they want a Unix or
Windows based system. Moreover, even these same buyers are
asked in this manner, they still do not have any clue what
are the advantages or disadvantages of either one.

So, they feel stupid. You will lose more buyers with
questions like this. The buyer feels frustrated and 99% of
the time leaves without buying. Look on your site, are you
asking any questions that make the buyers or visitors feel

15. The most common place to click on any web page is the
top left-hand corner. Put the choice to go to the next page
or to pick the most popular page or product in this
location. If the purpose of the page/site is different, you
may want to put the back and forward buttons there.

Don’t put graphics, especially your logo, on the upper left
hand corner. This is prime real estate for your website.
If you have a retail site, place your top-selling item in
this space or a drop down menu of three of the top selling

16. Answer the visitors’ main questions in one easy-to-find
and readable paragraph. Don’t make the font too small to
read and do not make it go across the page requiring the
reader to scroll. I’ve seen young web site designers use
small fonts on their website which wants to attract a market
thats in their 40s and 50s. Fact, the older you get the
bigger the font.

17. Don’t talk down to your visitors. They are intelligent
people who will not stand for it. They will leave and never
come back. There is a difference in talking down and
presenting a conversational style. Talking down is like
explaining it to your child; the other is like talking to
another adult. Technical people have a big tendency to talk
down to nontechnical people.

18. Make it easy for them to share their comments with you.
Whether it is about a hyperlink that does not work or other
errors they have found. They may want to tell how much they
appreciated your information. Create a place on every page
where they can feel comfortable about submitting their
comments. Comfortable also means that they have a choice
on whether to send their contact information or not.

19. Organize your site from the visitors’ point of view.
If you are not sure, ask some typical visitors. “What
questions did they have when they landed on the first page?”,
is a great question to start. Get them to walk you through
their thinking. You will pick up some patterns after the
first three or four. This is the best research you can do
and it will save you years of revisions.

Do not ask family members or friends. Ask clients who have
just finished visiting your site. They are familiar visitors
and they will want something different from a new visitor.
You need to set up your landing page to handle both familiar
and new visitors without being confusing.

20. One of the most valuable pages in a web site that is
sadly overlooked is the “thank you” page. If someone signs
up for your ezine or places an order, include a popup saying
“thank you for visiting.” Use whatever way you can think
says it best, but don’t leave it out. The other half of this
equation is not to loose the opportunity to cross sell or
up sell on the thank you page.

First, say thank you and then give them an offer they cannot
refuse. On the thank you page, you can provide a coupon for
10 percent off on anything in the store or 10 percent off on any
overstocked or limited stock item.

Now that you have these tips on what mistakes not to make,
you need to put them into practice. Choose three and start
completing them. Then move on to the next three and keep
moving through the list. You will be excited of the

Bonus Tip 1: 60% of the buyers opt out of purchasing a
product on the Internet in between the first cart processing
page and the last page. It is usually because it took too
many clicks to complete the transaction or it took too much
time to think about it or to make choices. Check your web
site and eliminate any obstacles or places that do this so
you can reduce this percentage on your web site.

Bonus Tip 2: If you have questions on your page, divide
them into categories and don’t put them all on one page.
Spread them out between pages. It looks easier and faster
to the person answering the questions. Give them an
incentive to move from one page to the next and give them
encouragement between the incentives.

About the Author

Catherine Franz, a Certified Professional Marketing &
Writing Coach, specializes in product development, Internet
writing and marketing, nonfiction, training. Newsletters
and articles available at: http://www.abundancecenter.com
blog: http://abundance.blogs.com

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