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9 (+1) Things NOT To Do On Your Web Site

I love lists, and I especially love negative lists. They kind of remind me of the old elephant joke: QUESTION -- How do make a sculpture of an elephant? ANSWER -- Get a giant chunk of granite an carve away everything that doesn't look like an elephant. Nevertheless, check out this list of Web site DON'Ts.
I love lists, and I especially love negative lists. They kind of remind me of the old elephant joke: QUESTION -- How do make a sculpture of an elephant? ANSWER -- Get a giant chunk of granite an carve away everything that doesn't look like an elephant. Nevertheless, check out this list of Web site DON'Ts.The list comes courtesy of Jeff Wuorio at ConnectIT.

Here's the short version (with my comments):

1. Your photo on the home page. It's supposed to be about the visitor, not you. (True enough, but some sign of humanity on the site may not be a bad idea. And sorry about my picture on top of this post...)

2. Multimedia overkill. Mostly, this stuff is just a slow-loading distraction. (Don't use it unless your site really needs it.)

3. Too many confusing menus. 5 to 9 choices is about right. (I think 7 is the right number, but bMighty also offers alternative navigation choices.)

4. Information that could lead to privacy or security breaches. You might be surprised at what can cause problems. (Remember, if there's a problem, it's your fault.)

5.Tip off competitors. Again, you'd be suprised at what folks can figure out from your site. (If you have something to lose, someone will try to exploit.)

6. Jargon and techno-speak. Keep your copy and content straightforward  if need be, have a non-expert review it for clarity. (Damn straight. You simply can't assume that your readers know all the latest buzz words.)

7. Making your business sound too good to be true. Boasting and bragging will turn off visitor. (Unless you happen to run the best damn technology site for growing businesses to be found on the Web!)

8. Unsupervised forums. You want to avoid spam, off-color comments, potential security breaches, etc. (That's a good idea, but if you ask me, unsupervised community is better than no community at all. And you may find it enough to back and delete any offensive posts after they show up.)

9. Bad links and outdated material. Everybody hates dead links and wrong information. (One way to mitigate the problems is to date all material you post. That way visitors will know that it may old.)

OK, and here's number 10 from yours truly...

10. Immediate Registration Requirements. There's nothing worse than arriving at a new site and instantly being forced to give up personal info in order get at the content. At the very least, make sure to give casual visitors something of value without asking them to divulge their life stories.

Clearly, avoiding these 10 mistakes won't guarantee a great Web site. But at least you won't be doomed before you start.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing