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On Halloween, a little fright is always fun — unless we’re talking about your business. If you’ve ever wondered if your website could be scaring off potential customers, it’s the perfect time of year to make sure you’re not making these nine mistakes. After all, the only spooking should come from little ghosts and goblins and not your website.

The Fright: Outdated Content

The Fix: Is the most recent item on your “news” page a year old? If you’re nodding, that means you have some major updating to do. It’s okay that you’re not CNN, but staying active and engaged is crucial. Whether it’s sticking to a daily blogging schedule or sharing the latest and greatest about your biz weekly, fresh content keeps your site up to date, hence giving people a reason to stop by. When your site is dormant, potential customers might think your business is too.

The Fright: Slow Loading Times

The Fix: These days it’s all about instant gratification, so no one is going to sit around waiting for your website to load. In fact, Google has acknowledged that page load time factors into rankings. To literally keep your site up to speed, limit the number of files needed on your display page, minimize the size and/or resolution of each file, and keep plug-ins to a minimum.

The Fright: Poor Navigation

The Fix: Think of it this way: Would you want to shop at a store where the merchandise was all jumbled and impossible to sort through? The same concept applies to your site. By making it as easy as possible for potential customers to scroll through your site, they’re more likely to stick around. Consider adding a site map and search engine for maximum navigation.

The Fright: Automatic Sound

The Fix: Few things are more annoying than opening a site and not being able to turn off the blasting music. First, think about whether the sound actually adds value to your website. If you really can’t part with it, make sure the volume control is obvious and clearly labeled so that customers can easily access it.

The Fright: The Boring Homepage

The Fix: If the first thing potential customers see is a snoozefest, your site could be doing more harm than good. Consider the blink test: You only have three to five seconds to convince people to spend time on your site when they arrive. Capture their attention with a great image, clutter-free design, professional and uniform branding, and a sharp, clear way to get your business message across.

The Fright: Dense Text

The Fix: No matter what you’re selling, no one wants to read a book about it. Keep copy short, simple, and to the point, and make sure the tone is friendly. Avoid blocks of text, which might cause some to lose their patience. Instead, break up the copy into digestible bites, and mix in a few images and graphics to keep it visually appealing. Just make sure the design keeps it easy to see and read. Also, check that the language doesn’t come across as a bunch of jargon — stick to layman’s terms.

The Fright: Pop-ups

The Fix: There’s a reason many people have pop-ups blocked, and chances are they won’t change their settings just for your site. Simply put, they’re annoying, so skip them!

The Fright: Not Selling Yourself

The Fix: No one is saying you should go the sleazy businessman route, but it’s good to have an “about” section to let potential customers get to know you. A friendly picture and quick history of your business will let clients know you’re a real person — not just a website. Have a brick-and-mortar store? Win any awards? Make sure that’s all in there, since those details build trust and a reputation.

The Fright: Ignoring Mobile Users

The Fix: It’s no surprise that people aren’t just using their computers to surf the net these days. In fact, you’re just as likely to get people on their phones or tablets, and your site needs to be able to accommodate that. Optimize the experience for mobile users by building a mobile site or using responsive design, simplifying navigation, opting for faster loading times, skipping images that aren’t essential, and simplifying forms.
Celia Shatzman is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. She has written about everything from travel to fashion, beauty, finance, health, fitness, and entertainment.

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