It's almost Halloween and you've probably already seen people donning their fearsome ensembles, but nothing strikes fear in the human heart like a scary website. Despite the spooky season, you probably don’t want your site to send people shrieking. Here are four different website “monsters” to look out for this season, and how to destroy them, if you dare.
What it is: A hodgepodge of all the sites you've ever known.
Why it’s scary: It’s alive alright, but no one is sure what it is. If a visitor can’t immediately decipher what to do with your site (or even your blog) they won’t linger to figure it out.
How to Kill it: Frankensites can’t exist where purpose does. Make sure you know who your users are and why they are visiting your site. Don’t be too concerned about every other business online. Just because one site has a forum, doesn't mean yours needs one. Go back to the basics of your company and have your website reflect those principles. Your site is your business outside your business - let the two match up.
2. Internet Dracula
What it is: A site that wants to suck information and time out of people.
Why it’s scary: Sites that initially ask visitors for personal info make the visitor weary. No one likes to have to give out contact information to a site before they even have a chance to see content. This toothy trick will send visitors covering their necks and running away. Another time-sucking technique is having an “entry” video. If a video, or load time, is too long the visitor will wonder what they ever did to deserve this type of damnation.
How to Kill it: Give the user the chance to read content before collecting information. Consider putting a timer on pop ups so they only display after the user has been on the site for 10 minutes. Make sure that email sign up buttons are visible so the reader doesn't have to go fumbling around. To really put a stake in Internet Dracula’s heart, avoid “entrance” portals and pop ups altogether.
What it is: Sites that say they are one thing, but then turn into something else.
Why it’s Scary: When a link to your site (or a blog headline, etc.) suggests that the user will read about horses, and your site is really about dolphins, one might imagine a high-pitched cackle coming from behind the computer. Using SEO can create situations more complicated than this example, and mistakes are easy to make, but don’t purposely fool people into visiting your site. If your content is relevant and good, then visitors will appear naturally...no secret spells required!
How to Kill it: True content and transparency. Make sure that keywords closely match with your content. Remember how to kill the Frankensite? If you know your business and your user, things won’t get too “hairy”.
4. Virtual Haunted House
What it is: You’re familiar with haunted houses - strobe lights, chainsaw noises, things jumping out at you. This site is overly flashy and noisy, sending shivers up the visitor’s spine.
Why it’s Scary: People don’t want to go berserk having to search for the “mute” button on your soundtrack, or worry about having seizures from blinking links.
How to Kill it: Design is the first thing your visitor will notice. It’s important to have a strong, clean model from the start. Simplicity demolishes the haunted house site. Don’t worry that your visitors may find the site dull if music isn't instantly playing, or videos don’t pop up. Allow the user to explore your site on their own, you’ll be so happy that you did, it will be scary.
Can you think of any other types of "site monsters" lurking around the Internet? Let us know in the comments below!