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Website Usability Dont's: How to Lose Your Audience in 5 Easy Steps

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/5/2011

Internet marketing success depends on building a website audience and keeping your website visitors coming back for more. This article offers a humorous take on 5 website usability practices that can hinder your online marketing efforts.

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    How to Lose Your Website Audience in 5 Easy Steps

    Your website success depends on getting an online audience to show up for the cyber experience you've created. All your internet marketing efforts will fall flat if there are no website visitors to whom you can market. Unfortunately, if you look at some of the usability practices employed by many website designers, it seems like developers are looking for ways to usher website visitors OUT of their site and on to greener website marketing pastures. Effective web usability is a first step in building a website audience, retaining visitors once they get to your site and achieving the desired response to internet marketing efforts. However, if you don't mind spending your hard-earned web development dollars on unsuccessful online marketing ventures, follow these handy web design tips to ensure your website visitor's next click is to your competitor's website.

    1. Move your links to different places on every page.

    That's the best way to confuse your website visitors and make it hard for them to find information. When they can't find it in your website design, they are sure to look for it on another site. Your online competitors will thank you for the referrals! Make it easy for your online users to understand your linking structure and find appropriate links by keeping your main menu and submenus in the same place on every web page.

    2. Include large image files that take a long time to download.

    Clogging up a visitors internet connection is a great way to ensure that he probably won't get to see your content, and he won't be in a charitable mood if he does. If you make him wait long enough, he'll be glad to choose a faster website to view. Large image files put a damper on website usability. Be sure to optimize your images for lower file sizes and adjust the size of your graphics for quick download. If your content includes downloadable files, make sure you list their size so visitors know before they click.

    3. Over-optimize with SEO key words.

    Repeating the same words or phrases over and over again in your text is an easy tip for making your website content hard to read and understand. Plus, it has the added effect of making your visitors feel as if they've just walked into a cyber version of Used Cars-R-Us. Although SEO optimization and key words are a necessary part of effective internet marketing, don't let over-optimized text create a barrier to user-friendly visitor experiences. Limit the number of repeated phrases in each sentence and paragraph, and research additional comparable key words to achieve your internet marketing goals.

    4. Don't provide relevant content.

    That's right. When your highly placed Google listing drives traffic to your website, annoying visitors with just another set of links or a repeat of your meta description is a great method for getting them to use the browser "back" button. Don't alienate and mislead your audience with inconsequential or repetitive content strictly designed to drive search engine traffic. Website content with substance encourages longer and repeat visits.

    5. Make sure your links don't work.

    Teasing your online audience with the promise of informative links that lead straight to URL errors is the ultimate step in driving away website traffic. And, for that matter, keeping all those misspelled words and grammatical errors is an excellent tip for ensuring your website visitors know you are incompetent and have no attention to detail. Naturally, they will flock to your competitor who does. A website developer's work isn't complete until the website is thoroughly proofed for any text, image placement or link errors. Broken links and incorrect text create a highly unprofessional image. Plus, non-working links prevent visitors from effectively using your website. Most web authoring software includes features to automatically check for broken links to pages and image tags. Be sure to use these features to create user-friendly websites.