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Cococello is Deb Pang Davis. Independent print and digital designer, educator and soon-to-be-author.

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Web Design Fail: Multiple Doors

I spend a lot of time visiting wedding vendor websites (I design wedding invitations) and I’ve noticed that many have this 2-Door or even a 3-Door approach to the home page of their websites.

Perhaps you’ve seen a version of this?

multiple-doors-website.jpg

Huh? Which door do I choose?

Even as a web designer I still get confused and not sure which door to take. In fact, depending on how quickly I need information, I've felt annoyed and turned off.

You have so many seconds to make a first impression, is this the one you want to make?

In the grand scheme of things perhaps this decision may not seem like a big deal. If we assume your visitor has a bit of time, is patient and willing to make a choice, it is what happens next that can be the icing on the cake.

Loading, loading, loading...

Some people bounce immediately from your site when presented with multiple choice. Even more people are going to bounce when your site takes forever to load content.

Did you know Google now uses speed as a ranking factor in its algorithms?

I went to a wedding event planner’s site recently and while the presentation of the three doors was beautiful, once I entered a door, that section of the site took eons to load. When it finally did, my browser crashed. Why? A poor execution of Flash. I never went back.

Multiple Pop up Windows

Multiple pop up windows makes your website (your business) confusing and disorienting. 

Choose “blog” and a separate window pops up. Read a post or two and click on gallery. Another window pops up. There are now three separate windows open on top of perhaps several others that are already open.

Where is that blog window? It’s buried somewhere. Click on “blog” from the gallery window to get back to the blog and another window pops up.

The back button gives your users a sense of control over their experience. It is similar to an “undo” or “cancel” and allows your visitors to re-orient themselves. Give them that choice.

Who Are Your Users? Do You Know?

Sure, most brides and grooms are young, hip, and you would assume savvy on the web. What about older couples getting married who have bigger budgets and might not be as web savvy?

What about their parents? Have you done research to find out how many of a couple’s parents use the web to research you and your services? Maybe mom has decided she is going to help her daughter or her son out with researching. What impression do you think your multiple choice home page, slow loading and/or multiple pop up windows makes on her? Do you know?

If you are interested in improving your website experience for your visitors and potential buyers, take an honest look at usability.

If you aren't sure, ask your users and visitors to take a survey. Using a service like Survey Monkey makes it easier to involve your audience and get feedback.

If your website is built with Flash, consider breaking up with it.

I had a friend recently tell me his family was in town so they decided to check out a restaurant. They forgot the address so he thought he would look it up on his iPhone. No such luck. The website didn’t load: no phone number, no address, nothing. They went somewhere else.

Make it easier for your customers to find you and find out information about you.

Being beautiful on the web is definitely a goal. Being user friendly and beautiful is what can give you an edge over your competitors.

In an age of complexity and too many choices, “making it easy” is a brand experience everyone desires.

Lose the multiple door homepage.

Carry Me Ohio by Photographer Matt Eich

What I Learned this Week #19 2010