Any good web publisher knows that it isn’t just content that keep readers reading and visitors returning. Interface design can be just as important as quality content. A bad website design can drive your audience away or seriously erode their confidence, just as they're coming through the door. Without some sound design tactics you end up putting a lot of work into publishing for maybe a couple of unique visitors a day. If you are attempting to get opt-ins and generate revenue from your site and you miss some key design tips you are going to suffer and your ROI will go down the drain. But just how do you design a clean, concise layout that is logical but also aids in producing results? We’ve got 5 tips to help you in your endeavors…and none of them require a separate manual to interpret.

5 Design Mistakes to Avoid

1. Too Much Advertising This is something that seems inherent in so many designs, but should be obvious. If you clutter your site with advertising (in particular AdSense type ads) no one is going to stay long enough to find your relevant content. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t sites out there that litter their site with advertising and get away with it -- like GoDaddy. If you can claim the amount of traffic and exposure that they get, then the best of luck. But most can’t say that. 2. Placing Your Opt-in Form on the Right Statistically, this results in lower numbers of opt-ins. Most cultures in the world read from left to right. So, naturally the first place the eye wants to rest on a site is the top, left corner. This is where your opt-in should sit. It will be the first thing most people see and they will be more apt to fill it out. 3. No SEO on Images, Flash Elements, and Other Media If you view the source code of a site, many do not contain titles or descriptions for their various media. These are wonderful opportunities to place additional keywords without overloading your content on your site. Many sites don’t even have an “alt” on their media which when you mouse over it, shows a phrase or text. Again, these are free opportunities for keyword placements. Spiders don’t pick up images, flash files and a lot of other media. They cannot read their content. But adding alts, titles and descriptions you are able to give spiders code side content to read in those locations, upping your search results. 4. Too Many Keywords For some reason, when it comes to keywords, people think, “The more the better!” This is incorrect. Search Engines will actually “flag” your site as overloaded. It comes across almost like duplicate content when you have multiple phrases in your keywords containing the same word. Most marketing guru’s will recommend about 7-9 well researched keywords. Well researched means more than picking the 7 most common phrases in your niche. If you do that you are likely to be competing against a small corporation owned by a huge conglomerate. Specialize in your niche as much as possible, especially when it comes to keywords. 5. Too Much Javascript, Too Many iFrames Once again, more is not necessarily better. Both javascript and iframes take considerable amounts of time to load in comparison to a 72 dpi jpeg. There are sites all over the net that are loaded with one or both of these and by the time they finish loading you have taken the dog out, made a coffee, and stopped by the bathroom. It has been proven that the average internet user decides in a matter of seconds if they will stay on your site or not. If it takes 20-30 seconds to load, you are probably losing half of your visitors almost immediately. Check your stats for bounce rates, exit pages and other data and see.

Avoiding the Mistakes

None of these mistakes are hard to overcome or avoid. Limit your ads, limit your javascript and iframes, pick 7-9 good keywords. Consider SEO, location of opt-in forms and amount/location of advertising. Taking the time to carefully design your site for your audience will go a long way toward improving visit stats and registration requests. Also, spend some time reading some of Gerry McGovern's content design articles. Good technical design and content design go hand in hand for a successful website. Just having a website and publishing what you think is best is not the only thing you should be doing as a web publisher. Just like with traditional print, if it sucks no one reads it. Take these things into consideration the next time you look at your site or decide to begin a new one.