Danger Will RobinsonThere’s no shortage of advice about what to put on your website. But what about elements you should avoid? Poor planning, bad content, special effects and neglect can lead to lost business, security concerns, and other headaches.

Here are 10 things to avoid:

1. Bad grammar, poor punctuation

A website riddled with spelling and grammatical errors reveals a business person lacking in basic attention to detail. Not a good sales tool. On the other hand, clear and concise writing without errors instills great confidence in who you are and how you conduct business.

2. Jargon and techno-speak

The purpose of most product and service websites is to persuade potential customers to do business with you. But if much of your site’s language is overly technical or loaded down with industry jargon that your audience can’t decipher, potential customers may question your honesty, integrity and quality. Keep your copy straightforward, and have a non-expert review it for clarity.

3. Large photos and banners

Large photos and animated banners take a long time to load and may cause annoyed visitors to leave. Use animation sparingly, and “optimize” each of your photos to load quickly.

4. Confusing menus

Sure, you want to offer visitors a variety of pages and features. But keep your site structure simple so that users are not confused or overwhelmed by too many choices. Offer clear navigation on every page so that if users take a wrong turn, they have an easy way to find what they’re looking for. If you’ve got a lot of content, consider putting a search box on each page.

5. Privacy breaches

Spammers scan websites for personal information to exploit. Keep employee or member details like photos, names and email addresses hidden in restricted areas available only through registered logins. Cloak email addresses with a JavaScript app, or better yet use a “contact us” form.

6. Security breaches

Hackers are always prowling for ways to break into your site. If your site uses a content management system, install a website security component that blocks attacks and alerts you to trouble in real-time, while recording attacker data. And backup your site daily so you can restore it quickly if you’re attacked.

7. Outdated material and bad links

Nothing alienates visitors more than content that’s obviously outdated, or links that produce error pages. Review your website regularly for old content and broken links.

8. Visual and audio overkill

Dizzying Flash intros and homepages with loud, pulsating music often come off as a pointless exercise of technical muscle, rather than providing content that sells your services. And they can take forever to load while visitors flee. Even if your website is music-related, give visitors the option of playing or downloading the music. Playing a video or music automatically when a page loads can be an unprofessional distraction from your business.

9. Unsupervised chat boards

If you have a chat area, use a moderator to approve every submission before it’s posted. This avoids spam, off-color comments, potential security breaches, and other headaches.

10. Content that makes your business sound too good to be true

Braggy marketing materials and over-stated testimonials may turn off visitors. Rather than making your website an over-hyped infomercial, provide an interactive conversation with your audience that builds relationships based on trust.

Bottom line: Bad content, poor planning, special effects and neglect can lead to lost business, security concerns, or worse.

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Safari Multimedia is your full-service Web partner offering smart online solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our cost-effective and easy-to-update websites will help you build relationships and boost profits.