This post, by Toni, originally appeared on Duolit on 5/23/12.
At the tender age of 14, I submitted my first website for a design review.
My masterpiece came together after only a few days spent tooling around in Geocities. I thought it was awesome – it featured a sharp black background, electric green content table, rockin’ aLtErNaTe capitalization, and sweet graphics made in Paint Shop Pro. I even had a page where you could adopt a sunflower seed (the terrifying screenshot you see on the right).
The result? A total disaster.
I’ll give the reviewer a bit of credit — she could tell that I was young and doing my best, but that made her review no less scathing!
According to her, my website was cluttered, hard to read and had little to interest any visitor. In fact, she said most would click away with a major headache!
I was crushed.
From that web design kick-in-the-face, however, I learned valuable lessons about what works in web design — lessons that are still true today.
The bottom line: my teen self produced a website that lacked purpose, effective design and relevant content. Visitors ran away screaming.
As a 14-year-old design n00b, fleeing visitors meant nothing but a learning experience. If *your* visitors skedaddle, however, readers and book sales vanish with them. And that? Sucks for both of you.
Don’t blame yourself for your website’s ills! You may not be a web geek, but you can fix each of the problems I’m about to share. Correct them today, and your visitors’ headaches will be a thing of the past!
1. Geocities.com/SouthBeach/Sandbar/3445 is NOT professional.
If you kicked it with me during the Geocities era, the URL above will look familiar. While those long addresses are (thankfully) a thing of the past, even a subdomain (such as yourname.wordpress.com) dings you on the credibility-meter.
2. Readers want to know *you* as well as your work.