23 Oct Oh, the Horror! What You Can Learn From Truly Scary Websites
When leaves start to fall, the wind causes chills, and frost forms on grass, you know one thing is near: Halloween. Witches, goblins, and spiders decorate doors, and horror movie marathons abound. This spooky season is fun, but one place you don’t want to encounter ghastly and grim design is your website.
Learn from the mistakes others have made to take your website from ghoulish to stylish.
Some small and medium-sized businesses don’t have much internet-savvy—let alone SEO or web design training. To get around this barrier, many will use templates to create their site. This makes sense, as templates appear to save time and money. However, this DIY approach often yields less-than-stellar results.
You can avoid their mistakes by understanding what they did wrong. Lackluster attempts at website building can provide business owners perspective about what should be on their site. Like a Shakespearean fool, poorly designed websites can make us laugh and teach us something. Completely random, nutty sites often help us look internally and reveal our own content and design errors.
Before we look at in-depth examples, however, let’s discuss why website design is so important for your online visitors.
Designs Depend on the Business
Toy stores, recording studios, retro-arcade games restorers—these businesses will have vastly different designs than a legal office or architectural firm. The more eccentric your business, the more eccentric your design possibilities. Readers expect off-the-wall ideas from some businesses but might feel confused if traditional business employ unconventional design.
For example, the reader might not expect a concise Home Page from a taxidermy business. Therefore, Jim Alfred Taxidermy Supply gets away with what seems to be the longest home page on the Internet. His readers are willing to scroll through several pages to reach discounted coupons on reproduction alligator heads. The nature of this business is a little offbeat, so odd design choices seem more natural to the readers. It’s kooky instead of annoying.
Unfortunately, readers aren’t as patient on every website. Most people are simply unwilling to wade through unnecessary information to find they product they want. Therefore, you must focus on how easily your readers can access the information they need. Do this by avoiding 3 common pitfalls in design, content, and functionality:
- Unreadability. Whether it is the background, the text, or some combination of the two, the design makes it too busy for the reader’s brain.
- Unusability. A business’ website doesn’t have enough relevant information about what the business does. This baffles some readers, and they may choose to dismiss your site rather than delve deeper into it.
- Unrelateability. Power photos of a lawyer with crossed arms (à la Law & Order) and other generic material won’t tell your readers how your business can help them. Images and text need to give readers useable, practical information.
If you’re a business owner and your website suffers from any combination of these critical mistakes, it might be time to rethink your do-it-yourself approach to web design.
Learn from Improvable Examples
To help you see the hazards of poor site design more clearly, let’s look at a few websites that fell victim to them:
Who’s Running for Congress?
George Hutchins has a very impressive mustache and military record. His website is also remarkable—but for all the wrong reasons. It combines two pitfalls: unreadability and unrelatability.
The site is difficult to read because photos don’t have borders or space between the images. Different color fonts scatter the reader’s attention. The content doesn’t explain who Mr. Hutchins is or why he is running for Congress, and that is crucial material for anyone who want to get to know the candidate.
Puppies for Sale?
Who wants to see cute, Siberian husky puppies? Many people will find their hearts melting just at the thought of pups toddling around. Enter the Siberians of the Heartland. This business breeds, raises, and sells furry little huskies.
However, its Home Page showcases family photographs instead of canine scamps. This is an example of unusability. Readers appreciate knowing about business owners—but that information is suited for the About Us page. Display your main product or service from the get-go. That way, your audience knows exactly what you offer them.
Where Are My Reading Glasses?
Hot Rods Online contains a wealth of information about a beloved niche in the car market. If you want to find drag races across dry lakebeds in the middle of the desert, this is the car forum for you. However, the yellow text and black background make reading the Home Page a challenge. Blinking bullet points just below the introduction exacerbate the problem. A little less contrast in the design could make it substantially more readable.
Professionals Can Help
An online marketing company can save your business from making the same mistakes these websites did. You know how to run your business, but you might need professionals to help you run it online. They can create your ideal content and design.
Web designers, account managers, editors, and copywriters each have a role to play in the development of your business’ new-and-improved website. They review your current content, devise a strategy for search engine optimization, and provide readable, usable, relatable new content for your site. Rely on them to build the website you have always wanted.