How much junk is in your web design?
Junk is always the stuff you can throw away and it isn’t missed. In fact, when you clear out the junk the good stuff can then be seen, and this is particularly so with business web sites.
I find that the trendiest piece of junk is the popular image slider. It takes up the richest home page real estate and doesn’t offer any practical business value. In my research about quality content the image slider doesn’t show up at all. It has an aesthetic use but no practical business use, but it sure does take up prime space.
What does the image slider do?
It rotates (slides picture in) up to 6 images, as a rule. That’s all it does. Maybe you think I’m being too harsh because there can be beautiful pictures presented, but do the test and then you’ll know.
The test is to cover up the slider with a book or black paper to hide it. Now look at the rest of the page and see if you can tell what the page is about. Whatever remains without scrolling down should provide a heading or text to indicate what else to expect on the page. Even product promotion and pushy sales copy is better than no info.
Okay, now remove the paper from the image slider and cover up the rest of the screen as best you can. What does the slider tell you? Do you have any clues from those rotating images that tell you anything of interest about the site?
The King Kong of all headers takes up ¼ to ½ of the whole screen. Although a header is a necessary part of your web page it doesn’t warrant much more space than a letterhead on stationary.
Those huge headers with big images says only one thing – “Let’s see how big and important my site can look because I don’t have much to say otherwise.”
And if this King Kong header is repeated on every page it simply compounds the problem. We all know that a web design can make a peanut stand look like a department store – no one is fooled.
Other people’s junk
There are tons of third party ads with images or widgets to add filler in a column, but they just distract from what our site can offer to our market. The deal is that if these ads generate a sale for that third party you get a tiny return. Sounds good but our web site isn’t attracting a lot of our market to our own site with all this junk, so there’s no revenue.
The value to the third party is they get a link back to their site boosting their link popularity. We get zilch.
Self promoting junk
Oh, now I’ve done it. I’m killing the sacred cow of marketing. Every one tells you to advertise on your web pages. You are supposed to shout out your ads and promote like crazy, and then you absolutely must ask for the sale and push those folks into filling up their shopping cart.
Well, maybe it’s time to see things in a different light because we are working with a web site, not newspaper or TV.
Newspapers are daily or weekly, television is prime time every day. Our web site may only be seen once and for only a brief bit of time. To have visitors come back we need more than ads and pushy sales. We can get ads and pushy sales in our face all day long, but how often do we come across a web site that helps us by talking about our problems.
The real reason self promoting ads on our own site are negative marketing is because members of our market have already arrived. The external ads or links brought them to our site and advertising has done its job. It isn’t needed anymore now that we have our market’s attention. If anything, more advertising will send them away.
We need to talk to our market about their problems and how we can solve those problems. Why are we not doing this? Maybe most web marketers don’t know what they are talking about.
Even good content can be turned into junk
Our eyes are wide open now. We see that we need to move a prospective buyer into talking the next step in the buying cycle. We talk about their pain and our solutions and they like this. It helps them, but they only have 5 minutes so we ask to have our site bookmarked. Better yet we offer a free white paper to download if they give us a name and e-mail address. Cool, we can pull them back in later.
All these good marketing ideas are given to our web designer who promptly turns it into small text and then fades the contrast. Our best marketing material just got turned into junk because it is now hard to read, so it gets skipped over.
People don’t like reading at the best of times, but making it difficult just gives them the excuse to file it under junk.
A web designer should be working everything else on the page to enhance our text content that attracts the customer in the first place. Instead the designer wants a perfect picture that can be held at arm’s length so the eyeball can appreciate the balance and beauty even while sacrificing the ability for people to read the content.
As you read this article do you feel it? Does it move you so that you want to change your web design? Have you got a head and heart full of new ideas?
If so then this is the kind of web content you want to write and get your market moving. And you can do this when you first get rid of the junk.