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Top 5 Mistakes Made by My Customers!  by Darren Strudwick

When I am in need of medical attention, not only do I go to the Doctors but I also listen to their advice and am guided by what they say. And of course why wouldn't I be guided by what they say ... I have no medical training whilst they on the other hand are expert in their field.  Like wise if my car stops working, I know nothihg of how to fix an engine, which is why I seek out the services of someone who is expert in mechanics.

For some reason this prinicipal does not carry through into the web creation industry.  Typically a customer will come to me who does not have so much as basic pass in Art GCSE where as I do, yet will ignore all my advice as to which direction we should go.  Even though I have more than 10 years experience, and designed 1000 websites, my opinion often counts for very little.  In my own experience, customers who try to have the most input into the design process are the ones whose websites generate them no business and typically fail within a year, where as the customers who leave it all up to the professionals tend to fair much better.

And so, if you want to take control of the design reigns so to speak, bare in mind the following mistakes to avoid ....

1) Not listening to professional advice

Web creators are in the industry for a reason, mainly because they have technical knowledge of how websites work,  how the internet works, how Google works, how the design process works,  experience and so on and so fourth. To not listen to someone who knows how the game is played and instead insist on your own ideas being implemented is fine if your own background is in the world of internet and design, but if it's not, you're going to end up with a website which is sub standard on every level, and could actually harm your business rather than enhance it.

2) Asking for opinions from friends and family

This is one of the worst mistakes you can make.  A while ago I created a website for a marketing / lead generation company.  Once the site was made, the client said she would pay for it just as soon as she'd asked a few people what they thought of the site.  The first person she asked was her mother!  Her mother, who has no qualifications in design, knows nothing about marketing, has no clue about the website's of her daughter's competitors with regards to how they've been designed, and who does not actually even own a computer came back with several suggestions for features on the website which should be changed,  I advised against these changes, but my client decided her mother's opionion was more expert than mine.  She then asked 10 friends for their opinions and as you might expect, if you ask 10 people for their opinons, you'll get 10 opinions, all of which conflicted with each other. If you go with the suggestions of unqualified friends and family, you are going to go in the wrong direction.  You'll then at some point in the future need to ask your web designer to go with the original plan, for which you'll be charged extra for the wasted time.

3) Asking a friend to make the website

Very commonly I will quote a price for a website to which the customer will respond by saying they can get a friend to make it for less.  I think there is an assumption that both the friend and myself are going to provide the same level of service, and of course if that were to be the case, then why not go with the cheapest price? Of course the reality is the total opposite. In 99 per cent of instances where a friend is involved in designing a website, progress is often beyond slow and the end result looks amateur.  There is also the awkward situation that when ever ammendments and updates need to be made to the website, the friend who made it, at that point, has lost all enthusiam for the project, and so will tend to be unavailable forever.  There is a reson professional internet companies charge more than friends. Pay a little bit more, get it done professionally, get it done right!

4) Over cluttering of the page

Many customers have an urge to fill every inch of the screen with something ... anything.  Just as long as there is no white space that's what counts. But even after filling every inch of the screen, that's still not enough. If there are 100 images crammed onto a page, then comes the question ... can the images move, or flash, or can there be a slide show?  Next come the suggestions of adding a video, or having music play while people are browsing the site, and then having a choice of music so people can select which song to listen to. At what point does it become too much? Apart from the fact that going to these lengths can tripple the price of your website, none of it is necessary.  There is a famous saying - less is more - and that saying exists for  a reson.  The minimalist approach is a lot more classy.  Having a lot of white space gives the elements on the page room to breath and come to life.  It also helps make the key points on the page stick out more.  A brief glimpse at all the major websites in the world will reveal how much large companies value the minimalist approach. The ultimate example would be the Google homepage - a multi billion pound website yet all there exists on their home page is a search box and a logo. They seem to be doing quite well as a result!  The Yahoo home page on the other hand is full of "stuff" - images, news, adverts etc etc.  Yahoo are currently valued at less than 10 per cent of what Google are worth and their future does not look bright.

5) Not having a clear message

A Jack of all trades is a master of none! If for example you are a plumber who also sells second hand cars, do not have a single website which combines the two services. All this will serve to do is confuse your customers.  If they are searching for a plumber then what they want a plumber. Seeing a bunch of second hand cars for sale on the same website will make them think plumbing is not your main thing.  So instead of gaining customers for both your plumbing and car business you will gain no customers for either,  Specialise in one area only, make it crystal clear what that area is, and build the content of your website around that one area. The message of my website for example is very clear, there can be no doubt what service I offer, there is no room for confusion.