Having a website is pretty standard procedure for freelance writers and biz owners these days. This is good. This is something you should do too if you want to run a successful business online.
But you know what else appears to be standard procedure, and is definitely not something you want to do?
Ugly, user-UNfriendly, psychedelic shitpiles for websites.
I’ve seen a lot of these lately and I’ve noticed a few common mistakes these poor, unwitting biz owners make that dropkick their websites straight into the shitpile. So I decided to make a list of the most offensive cockups I found to help you avoid them. After all, you do not want your website to end up looking like this:
1. The Pointless Home Page
Come on guys, this is in, like Websites 101 or something. Your home page – often the first page viewers land on – is kind of important. Don’t waste it by putting some stupid shit on it. I actually saw a website that had this, and only this, on its home page:
Can somebody please explain to me how this is supposed to entice anybody in? Oh, you’re [biz name], are you? Well I don’t give a shit. What do you DO? How can you HELP me? Come on, give me something to work with.
If you’ve ever thought about doing this: don’t. Just start with the page you were planning on linking to with your magnificent CLICK HERE button.
2. Boring, Irrelevant About Pages
OH MY GOD. These are taking over the internet, I swear. But honestly, nobody gives two flying fuck about that long list of companies you’ve worked with or for or under.
While we’re on the subject, we don’t care about your long list of accreditations, certificates, educational institutions or bars you sang karaoke in when you were an undergrad either.
Oh and please remove your list of ’40 Things About Me’. Go start a LiveJournal if that’s what you’re into.
Just stop it. And now tell me something real about you. In fact, let’s not even talk about you. Let’s talk about what you can do for me. Because that’s why I’m on your website, you know? To find out how you can help me?
3. Just Plain Fuckin’ Ugly
These are my favourite sites to visit when I want to feel better about myself. How about taking a little pride in what you do, eh?
Listen, I’m design-idiotic too, but there are plenty of easy, affordable ways to get a decent looking website that don’t involve giving yourself a hernia because you’re straining your under-flexed designy-codey brain muscles.
A few pointers:
- Plenty of white space
- Not millions of sidebars and widgets and whatnots
- Less than three fonts
- Nothing sparkly or animated, and definitely no fucking background music. What is this, 1999?
- Use WordPress and pick a theme you like. It’s easy. Google ‘How to install WordPress’
4. ‘What the Hell am I Supposed to Do Now?’ Menus
Your website’s navigation should not be confusing. But when you go all crazy with approximately 12 different menus, none of which have anything to do with the others, or do they? Who the fuck knows. That’s when it all starts to go a bit wrong. Just have one menu at the top of the page, and keep it simple. Link to your main pages, like ‘About’, ‘Services’, and ‘Contact’. Don’t name your links weird things that won’t mean anything to anyone except you. If you have sub-pages you want to link to, do it within your main pages, or use dropdown menus from your main menu items.
5. Why God, WHY, Do You Have Two Sidebars?
If you’re sensing a theme here, you would be right. Clutter is a huge no-no. And I’m of the opinion that just one sidebar can be cluttertastic. I get it, sidebars can be useful. Go ahead and have one. If you must. But why the fuck do you need two? All you’re going to do is burn out your visitors’ retinas. And then how will they know where your ‘Add to basket’ button is? HMM?
6. Corny Stock Photos
These just scream of ‘someone told me I should use images on my website, so I found these random stock images that sort of fit the bill.’ See also: ‘I have not an artistic bone in my body, and I care not about personality.’ And: ‘P.S. I’m lazy.’
I’d rather not have any images on my site at all than another posed fucking photo (wait, no… not a ‘posed fucking photo’) of a ‘business’ woman in a suit and heels. I mean, how does that even represent my business and me? Fuck, I’m wearing yoga pants with holes in the crotch right now. NOT LIKE THAT. Let’s just forget this whole paragraph ever happened.
7. Useless Random Shit
So this one sort of encompasses all the others, I guess. Don’t put stuff on your website that doesn’t need to be there. You want to make things as easy as possible for your visitors – potential clients and customers – to get around. To find what they’re looking for.
Jesus Fucking Christ, one website I came across had a ‘What’s on the iPod’ thing at the top of every blog post. WHY? It literally had nothing to do with the content of the website. Stop thinking anybody gives even a miniscule shit about what you’re listening to, or anything else about you. Not even your grandma cares, although she’ll do a better job of pretending.
You should forcibly propel all useless random shit from your website. That includes blogrolls, tag clouds, hit counters (really? we’re still doing that?), and just… god. Anything that doesn’t help the people who visit your website. Did your WordPress theme come with built-in plugins and widgets and shit? Don’t let them remain just because somebody else thought they were a good idea.
Go and look at your website and consider every god damn aspect of it, right now. So nobody ever lands on your site and thinks ‘Jesus Christ, this website hurts my eyes and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do now I’m here’ again.
Want more guidance on making this work? Check out my course about how to become a well-paid freelance copywriter.
Image by dragfyre.