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Mind Your Business: Does This Website Make Me Look Fat?


There are certain questions you already know the answer to before you even ask.

Do these pants make me look fat? Is my new haircut too short? What do you think of our new website?

Oh, the tangled web we weave. If you could answer honestly, how often would you actually say, “Who designed that? Your third-grade intern?”

While mobile and tablet advertising and social media engagement are all the rage, many small firms still haven’t mastered the art of creating a simple and useful website. Here are a few things to consider.

Font-ain of you

Let me say this as kindly as possible. If your website contains even one word in Comic Sans font, you look like an amateur. This font, and many like it, should be the exclusive domain of PTA moms and cookie-peddling Girl Scouts. It sends the message that you don’t have enough dollars or sense to hire a professional Web designer who would never, ever use this font.


While we’re on the subject of fonts, let’s also talk about how the text on your website is laid out. Is it center justified, rather than justified to the left? Unless you’re a professional poet, your text should not be laid out like a rhyming couplet. What do I mean?

This is what I mean.
When you text is uneven on both sides of the paragraph
Your website looks unprofessional

Don’t believe me? Start paying attention. Check out the sites of Microsoft, Apple, Target, Kodak, HP, Michael Kors, Donna Karan or Nordstorm . None of these companies’ websites contain centered text. Neither should yours. It sends a subtle message to your customers that you’re running a rinky-dink operation.


Your customers are very busy. If they decide to take the time to read your blog , there’d better be something interesting to read. And, it’d better be current. If your last blog entry is from 2008, it sends the message that you’re no longer in business. Or, that you’re too lazy to remove the blog from your site altogether.

Blogs are not a necessity. If you don’t have enough content to fill one, then don’t have one. Better to skip the blog than to create the expectation of having one and then not keeping up with it.


Believe it or not, some people will be looking at your website at work or on a train or while watching TV. Nothing makes me navigate away from a website faster than an unexpected aural assault from my laptop speakers. It’s hard to imagine a situation in which your audio could be necessary. Unless, of course, you’re a musician. In that case, rock on.

Linked out

Having links on your site that don’t work is like inviting customers into to your business and then locking the door when they get there. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to go through once in a while and make sure your links are still working. If they’re not, fix them. Or take them out. A simplified, but functional site is preferable to one filled with useful links that don’t go anywhere.

Making contact

If you are Oprah Winfrey or Lady Gaga, you can stop reading now. I understand why you don’t have your phone number or email address on your website. For the rest of you, what’s the problem? Is someone stalking you? Are you really so important that you can’t give out your contact information?

If your site has no method of contacting you other than a “contact us” form, you’re creating a wall between you and your customers and it’s not good for business. It creates the impression that you don’t want to hear from your customers. And that doesn’t make me want to be one.

Flash forward

Yes, I know. It’s 2011. But, truth be told, some of us still don’t have Flash installed on our computers (which many Web designers feel is an outdated technology that's on its way out anyway). Nor do we want it. No matter how delightful your little animated intro is, odds are, half the visitors to your site aren’t seeing it. Not only that — they’re annoyed by the fact that your site isn’t functioning properly (even if the so-called "problem" is on their end). You know that handy little “skip intro” feature? Do it. Don't put up an intro in the first place.


If 90 percent of Web users had a feature on their browser that automatically blocked your website, you would try to find a way around it, right? So, why are you using pop-ups? Your pop-ups require an extra step, sometimes two extra steps, on the part of the user.  No one has that kind of time or, in most cases, the desire to work that hard to see what you’re selling. Make it easy for your customers and they’ll keep coming back.

Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.