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In the opening article of this 4-part series on typical web design mistakes to avoid, we looked at the navigation portion of your website and making sure that usability is not going to be the downfall of your design.

Now that we’ve cracked into that crunchy candy shell, let’s take a look at the ooey-gooey nougat filling that’s the main reason for your audience visiting your site in the first place.  Of course, this means the content.

6. Keep Advertising Placements Tasteful

Naturally, you’re expecting a return on your website investment and there are many ways to achieve this.  One method is by placing advertising throughout the site.  Keep in mind, though, that people aren’t coming to your site to see a bunch of blinking tiles telling them how to lose weight overnight on the Cheetos and Dr. Pepper diet.  Advertising has its place and when integrated properly can even improve your earning rates.

This also goes for advertising content of your own.  If your audience likes what they see they’ll browse around and look for more content themselves, so there’s really no need to clutter up your website with large banners reading “Contact Us Now!”  If you are keen on placing networking badges throughout the site, it’s a good idea to keep them consistently in one place, like a sidebar or footer and not fired out of a slingshot on the page from 40 paces.

7. Don’t Post a Novel

This is the internet, you know.  Nobody is coming to your site to read about how the founder of the company had a cat named Mittens who was born on a cloudy Tuesday morn in the back of a South Hampton, Virginia milk truck.  Keep your opening information concise and scan-able.  If you really want people to read your entire 3-hour screenplay that you wrote at Starbucks, let your audience make the choice and don’t force it down their throats.  Things like bullet points, lists, headers and sub headers all allow for your audience to easily filter and process the information being presented.

"There. My 500,000 word memoirs are finally complete. You know who's gonna love this? The internet."

8. Don’t Force Registration and Don’t Automatically Sign Me Up

The easiest way to tick off your audience is to lock off all of your content.  People hate having to sign up for stuff, even if it’s free.  It pushes their brains just one more username and password combination closer to picking off school kids from a bell tower.

In addition, when someone visits your website, they should be able to do so without worry of receiving 12 emails a day for the rest of their lives after being put on your mailing list for no reason.  Not only is this a good way to summon a lynch mob, it can also be downright illegal.

9. Down with Autoplaying

Any time you visit a website, you usually aren’t expecting to hear an audio file come blaring out of the page at 140 decibels when you’ve got your speakers up full blast.  Background music or speaking tracks are not only overplayed, but they are also a big time nuisance.  Allow your users to choose whether or not they want to listen to the audio or even video content that you’ve provided.

Every year, thousands of children like our friend Billy here are exposed to the dangers of midi files. You can help end this injustice.

10. Make Sure There is Contact Info

We’ve told you not to overdo it in plastering your contact info all over the place like a NASCAR racing machine, but that information has got to go somewhere and it should be fairly prominent.  If the most important purpose of the website is to generate leads, then you’re going to need some form of call to action to open up a more formal dialogue.  Even a simple web form can do the trick.

Always remember that the content of your website is a representation of your product, so you’ll want to massage it just right to ensure maximum impact.  By avoiding some of the mistakes we’ve outlined here today, you should be able to keep your website content concise, easy to process and most importantly, enticing.  Simple is better.

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