Lessons learned reviewing 300 websites in 2 weeks (how to build a decent website)

I’ve been on a bit of a website review binge for the last 2 weeks. It started on the Smart Passive Income podcast where I volunteered to do a quick review for the people in Pat Flynn’s audience. Turns out, quite a few people were keen! We are up over 600 comments and I’m well behind in the reviews.

I also caught up with Chris Ducker and offered to do an in depth 8 page website review for people who signed up via his page. Again I had many more people than we expected, so I’ve spent a good chunk of the last few weeks reviewing websites.

“In the last 2 weeks I’ve reviewed 300+ websites and found some consistent areas for improvement.” – CLICK TO TWEET

Here are the top things I’ve noticed. You can use these to review your own site. I’ll also share my review template at the end of this post.

1. Think like a brand

uber_branding

One thing that has really stood out reviewing these sites, is people seem really keen on taking the advice of internet marketers. However they don’t look at what top brands are doing, and model off that.

If you want to build an internet marketing business then that’s cool. But creating something of real, significant, and ongoing value requires you to build a brand. This seems to be completely missed in almost all of the reviews I’ve done. 

I think there’s a bit too much guru worshiping going on and too little of observing with the best brands are doing. Designers who work for the top startups do not have time to release info products. So for that reason, you won’t learn this stuff from internet marketers. Instead you have to observe what they do.

A lot of the following comes from me observing top startup brands.

Related: How I ‘hack’ excellence with 1 simple trick

To make this real I’ve chosen 6 random, relatively new, high growth startups for comparison. Throughout the rest of this post I’ll come back to these as best practice examples. The startups are airbnb, Uber, Campaign Monitor, Udemy, MailChimp and Slack.

2. Have a simple logo or no logo 

People have been obsessing over having a complex logo, getting 3 versions, choosing something meaningful and something that stands out. Often the logos have been huge, or centered on the page, unnecessarily complex or out of alignment. Usually poorly designed, blurry, pixelated, dated or just plain ugly.

What I notice about modern startups is they don’t use complex logos, in fact some don’t use a logo at all!

brands

As you can see above, 5 out of the 6 startups I chose either have no logo or an extremely simple one on their site.

MailChimp is the only one that has more than a basic simple vector shape, and they go back and forth on whether they show that logo (often they just have the words Mailchimp despite their logo being so recognizable). Simple always wins in design.

2 out of the 6 don’t even have a logo on their site.

My recommendation would be go go without a logo if you can’t run through a proper design process for your brand. This is the option we chose with WP Curve when we got started. We still don’t have a logo and will only get one when we can afford a designer who can go through a proper process, to come up with a world class design. Until then what we have works a lot better than the average competition-designed logo.

3. Tell people what your site is about

This seems crazy but I’d say almost half of the sites I reviewed or perhaps more, didn’t even mention to the visitor what the site is about. At the very least they didn’t do it in a prominent location.

The top brands did it 6 out of 6 times. Every single one had a headline, and a subheading both above the fold. None of them said ‘Welcome to my site’, none of the skipped the headings altogether. Some went a step further and explained (sometimes subtly) who the product is for and even addressed some objections.

Here are the levels you can achieve with a headline and a subheading. The first 2 are essential. For businesses who are specifically targeting certain groups I’d also include ‘Who it’s for’ as a nice inclusion.

  1. A headline that captures attention
  2. A subheading that explains what the site is about
  3. How you are different (Unique Selling Proposition or USP)
  4. Address any objections

Let’s break down some of the startups.

airbnb (1, 2 and 3 covered)

airbnb_headlines

Campaign Monitor (all points covered)

campaig_monitor

4.  Go easy on the popups!

Most of the sites I have looked at have been aggressively going after the email optin. They had popups coming up before I could understand what the site was about. They had “hello bars” that locked to the top of the screen, hurting real estate and making it feel cramped and difficult to read. There were scroll boxes that came up over the content that I had to click to hide.

Most of them had really weak calls to action like ‘Subscribe to my newsletter’ and most weren’t accompanied by any evidence that would make me believe I would be better off if I did opt in.

They made it almost impossible to do what you want people to do, which is read your content. Its obvious to me from that approach that the owners of these sites don’t care as much about their content as they do about getting the email opt in. This is what I predict would happen in most cases for these sites:

  • Their optins would be slightly higher than if they didn’t have a pop up.
  • Everyone who visits the site would be annoyed because popups are universally annoying (brand takes a hit).
  • The people who do subscribe aren’t really that committed to your content, they have been pushed onto the list. My guess is they will churn off the list fairly rapidly and because the site owner isn’t showing any regard for content quality over conversions, the content in the emails probably isn’t good enough to keep them engaged anyway.

Quality content and a regard for the end visitor is what builds trust and loyalty over time. Popping up opt in boxes before people even know what you do, erodes trust.

To illustrate the point further, let’s look at the 6 startups.

  • Every single one had a prominent blog with regular high quality content.
  • None of them used popups on the homepage to build an email list. The only place I saw a popup was on the Udemy blog which was for signing up to Udemy. None of them used one on the homepage or any other page as far as I could tell.

Building a brand takes time, it can’t be hacked. If you are a small business, no one knows who you are, you don’t explain it on the site, you don’t provide great content on the site and you just hit people with popups to subscribe to your newsletter, you are doing yourself a disservice.

I’m not going to say that you should never use popups or more aggressive techniques for building an email list. But you should consider the impact on your brand, and consider the contextual factors around the offer before you blindly throw a popup script on every page of your site.

5. Don’t have ads

ads

I was really surprised to see that a lot of the sites, particularly in Pat Flynn’s audience, containing ads. Here’s why you should not include ads on your site:

  1. Ads are often contextual to the user which means the content probably has nothing to do with your site. This means they work against everything you are trying to achieve on the site. I saw ads for Infusionsoft, our competitors even ads for WP Curve!
  2. Ads are built to generate attention so they kill your conversions. They are specifically designed to get people to focus away from your website. Why on earth would you want that?
  3. Quite often the ads themselves were well designed but the rest of the site wasn’t, so it really showcased the poor design of the site.
  4. The ads were often forced into the theme and looked totally out of place.
  5. My guess is these sites generally had very little traffic and therefore made hardly any money from the ads. This was confirmed by a few people who commented on the reviews.
  6. They slow the site down.
  7. It’s one of the worst ways to monetize a website.
  8. It shows that you have no confidence in your business and therefore erodes trust and credibility.
  9. Sometimes the ads I saw were really spammy like the kind of ones you see on Pirate Bay (not that I’ve been there). That kind of thing destroys any trace of credibility.

It goes without saying that none of the 6 startups here, or any non-news startup that takes itself seriously, has disruptive ads like this on their sales pages.

6. Care about design

Most of the sites I saw had very poor design. There were a few exceptions, but generally I felt that design wasn’t something that people valued too much.

Of course it could simply be an affordability issue. Designers are expensive and to go through a proper design process is hard, expensive, risky and even then finding a great designer is difficult.

Still, I think some basic design principles could really help the majority of sites out there. Here is a presentation I gave recently that covers off some of these fundamentals.

Most website owners could implement these things for free and go from a horrible design to an acceptable one.

7. Use excerpts and consistent featured images

This is one really easy, high impact change you can make to how you are using WordPress. A lot of the sites I reviewed just let WordPress cut off the intro message to blog posts to use on the homepage. In addition, they had all sorts of other design elements cluttering up the page.

All you really need on a blog homepage is a simple excerpt, a headline and a featured image.

A typical example

excerpts

Best practice

No clutter, nothing unnecessary, consistent featured images, excerpts instead of big long cut off paragraphs, lots of padding.

curveblog

The WP Curve blog has simple consistent featured images, lots of white space and consistent excerpts of 2 short paragraphs.

airbnb use beautiful featured images, no clutter, only headings.

airbnb use beautiful featured images, no clutter, only headings.

Campaign Monitor have consistent custom icons, short same size headings and short same size excerpts.

Campaign Monitor have consistent custom icons, short same size headings and short same size excerpts.

8. Optimize images and check speed

A really common problem was poor website speed. This can impact on SEO, conversions, credibility and brand, usability and in some cases my ability to review the site at all!

More often than not the culprit was huge images. I usually try to keep whole websites to under 1mb. I came across some that were as big as 8mb.

As a general rule for individual images, I like to keep them under 100kb. In my reviews I came across individual images that were up to 4mb.

This really is a skill you need to have on board if you want to have a website.

The Pingdom site check tool is a handy quick reference.

Best practice is 1-3 second load time and under 1mb in size.

Best practice is 1-3 second load time and under 1mb in size.

Generally images should be under 100kb. If you sort by file size on the Pingdom site checker you can see this one image is 2.6 mb.

Generally images should be under 100kb. If you sort by file size on the Pingdom site checker you can see this one image is 2.6 mb.

Related: WordPress speed – How to reduce your load time to under 1 second

9. Optimize for readability

I think this one comes back to the intention of the site owner. There seemed to be way too much focus on ‘Get them to convert’ and not enough on ‘Get them to consume’.

Font sizes were small, often background images hurt the readability, there were large paragraphs, often grey on grey or similar issues with colour and not nearly enough padding.

Full width text was another issue, it’s difficult to read any text wider than about 800px.

The 2 sites I came back to as best practice for readability and focusing on content were Medium and MarkManson.net

This level of readability was fairly common.

This level of readability was fairly common.

Mark Manson uses big font, black on white, lots of paragraph spacing, nothing wider than 850px.

Mark Manson uses big font, black on white, lots of paragraph spacing, nothing wider than 850px.

10. Have 2 CTA’s

Another common problem was people who had a call to action somewhere towards the top but not at the bottom. The bottom of a web page is an underrated place to grab the attention of the visitor.

If they made it that far, they must be at least the slightest bit interested right?

In the startup examples I’m looking at here, 5 out of the 6 had a clear call to action at the bottom of the page. In all cases it was very similar, if not the same as the call to action at the top of the page.

slack_cta

11. No proof

chimp_proof

Finally one of the big issues I saw was a lot of talking and not much proof.  You can say what you want, so people will rightfully take what you say with a grain of salt in the absence of proof.

Examples of proof could include:

  • Testimonials
  • Facts about your business
  • Awards or recognition
  • Places you’ve been featured
  • Number of people who are customer or on your list
  • Social likes or shares
  • Trust seals
  • World class design

In most cases, the sites I reviewed had no proof, which is a conversion killer.  Established startups probably don’t need to worry that much about proof because 9 times out of 10 people come across their site via word of mouth. That means they come to the site with all the proof they need (their friends use and love the service).

Still, in the startups I’ve looked at in this post, there are regular elements of proof:

  • World class design in each one
  • Community / stories (airbnb)
  • Worldwide support graphic (Campaign Monitor)
  • 7 million customers (MailChimp)
  • 4 million students, 20 million courses  and showing numbers enrolled (Udemy)
  • Testimonials (Slack)

What do you think?

Let me know in the comments below. If you have any questions, feel free to ask too. If you want a copy of the template I use to review websites, enter your email below you will also get our weekly email with our best content.

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About

Dan Norris is a co-founder at WP Curve and a passionate entrepreneur with an obsession for content marketing.

59 responses to “Lessons learned reviewing 300 websites in 2 weeks (how to build a decent website)”

  1. Jake Lunniss says:

    I thought I’d post the first comment and add to your credibility 😉

    My take home from this is that, as my home page load time is 17.13 seconds, I really, really need to sort that out. (Slower that 97% of websites! I’m almost proud of that).

    Thanks for another brilliantly insightful post, Dan.

  2. Paul Tomes says:

    Knocked it out of the park again Dan. I’ve gone and looked at my site and realize I have some more work to do.

    I really appreciate these blog posts, I look forward to them like a hungry dog 🙂

    Cheers, Paul

  3. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks Jake, glad it was useful mate. What URL is your site I can give you some specific tips via here if you want.

  4. Dan Norris says:

    Lol, great to hear!

  5. Dan, thanks for the great list of items here – I’m forcing myself to re-consider that any or all of these could apply to my site. Thanks for what you are doing over at SPI as well.

  6. Jake Lunniss says:

    Wow, you’re not sick of it already? http://www.benelds.com.au

    Thank you!

  7. Dan Norris says:

    Mad for it!

    Here are a few things.

    1. The theme’s weird scroll behaviour is really annoying. I always leave sites like that unless I really want to stay cause it slows me down too much and I hate it.

    2. The whole site is a bit odd actually. It is really disjointed. It is very much like Secret. Have you used it? It’s an app where everyone shares individual secrets. This site reminds me of it. It’s like a powerpoint presentation, you can only get one piece of information at a time which works well for a presentation but not for a website that you are supposed to work through at your own pace.

    3. You scroll right down to the end and the scroll bar on the right indicates that you are only a tiny bit down the page so I’m sitting there scrolling and not getting anywhere. It’s a very frustrating site to navigate. You have to be on a certain slide to even find a link to the blog.

    4. Do you only have 1 post? I couldn’t see any more and when I clicked the hamburger menu on the blog weird things happen. http://screencast.com/t/vKKvgJ5zIIj

    5. The https is broken on the site because there are unsecure items. You don’t really need https across your entire site.

    6. There are no calls to action until you right right down the page which requires you to be patient and remember where they are. And even then the button ‘Find out more’ just refreshes the page.

    7. And yes load time is a problem. Your site is 5.2 meg (5X what it should be) and one of your images is 4.1 meg (40X what it should be) http://screencast.com/t/oLhQY4os

    Hope that helps.

  8. Jake Lunniss says:

    Thanks Dan!

    1. Nooo! I rather like sites like that. The “powerpoint” story-telling style was the intention.
    2. Noted. I hadn’t heard of secret. Just had a look. Appears to be memes for lonely people. Medium it ain’t. Definitely don’t want to be associated with that.

    3. That’s a big one I hadn’t noticed. Definitely going to change the scrolling.

    4. Yup, whole site was only built & published 9 days ago (when we won the award I figured it was time to take the online presence seriously).

    The hamburger menu has been troublesome. It’s the last thing on the page to load, so if you’re sat there for 17 seconds waiting… I only went with that option when there was only one public page on the website, that’s already on the list to be burned to the ground.

    5. Added the SSL after the fact because of orderforms. CBA to go and change the images, if I were to be honest.

    How does one only have an SSL on certain pages?

    6. Yup, haven’t made the about us page yet and forgot that button was there. Cheers!

    7. Image is now 83KB. You mean to tell me an out-of-camera 8000px wide image is not really necessary?

    Thanks for your time Dan, I appreciate it.

  9. Nickmarquet says:

    Great post and again thanks for the ‘tough love’ – Your suggestions helped me drop my site speed from 5 seconds to 2.2 and page size from 3mb to 1.3mb – Dumped 60% of the ads. Site feels, cleaner, leaner and meaner. It could be a coincidence but I’ve seen a 12% increase in traffic over the last few days…either way I owe you a cold one! Cheers, Nick

  10. Dan Norris says:

    This isn’t a style that has really ever got any traction. Websites aren’t self paced. Most people will just bounce. If you aren’t sure, it would be worth checking Analytics. But to me I just look at what all of the other great companies are doing and no one is doing this.

    Re Secret yes it’s a pretty serious startup ($25m raised). But my point is this is a way to present information when all of the information is completely separate – like an Instagram or Secret timeline. Not when you are trying to enable people to flow through complex information to reach an action at the end, which is what you do on a website.

    I think the Award is great and the overall visual design is good. The award adds so much credibility.

    Yes the SSL should only be on the order form pages. You don’t want every page of your website showing an error. It will probably slow it down too.

  11. Dan Norris says:

    Excellent! Ha ha traffic shouldn’t be affected short term but bounce rate, time on site and repeat visits should improve if your site is better.

  12. Jake Lunniss says:

    http://screencast.com/t/m6WcXbX2S

    That’s something of an improvement!

    Hamburger is gone, slideshow scrolling is gone, hamburger has a menu next to it now. Thanks for your help, Dan, I really do appreciate it.

    One last thing – how do you only have the SSL on some pages and not all?

  13. KM Awad says:

    Awesome post. I liked your take on popup designs. I was following Michael Hyatt’s lead on that, but like your take. How do you test your sites speed?

  14. Dan Norris says:

    No worries mate, glad it’s useful.

  15. Daniel Howell says:

    Dan, whereas I agree with much of what you said, you seem to approach the web critique more from a developer’s POV than a marketer’s (not to discount the marketing tips that you did provide such as CTA’s, Clear Objective, etc.). It’s sometimes sad (but true) that many of the most ugly sites have the best conversions. I often observe big brands AND DO THE OPPOSITE. They have different agendas and bigger budgets than small business owners like myself so they can “afford” to do stupid marketing. They often convert mainly because they saturate the market so well … domination by saturation.

    I agree that design is important (you can view my page http://www.SoutheastChevyParts.com), but I would caution following big brands as a model to follow for marketing … and so continues the age old tension between Designers and Marketers. Thanks for taking the time to write the article … I hope you don’t mind my slight critique. 🙂 … p.s. I followed you over here from SPI.

  16. Andy Ford says:

    Splitting hairs here, but I think you mean “logomark” when you say “logo”. Uber and Udemy do not use a logomark, but they are using their logotype. Mailchimp uses only a logomark but no logotype.

    Also is it fair to call a 13-year-old profitable company (MailChimp) a startup?

  17. Dan Norris says:

    Just don’t link to https. http://www.benelds.com.au/blog/ still works.

  18. Dan Norris says:

    MailChimp change it up fairly regularly. The last time I looked at it, they weren’t using the monkey just the words mailchimp. They still had the logo and no doubt used it when it was a good fit, but they weren’t using it on the site.

    The important thing is not whether you have a logo, it’s how well designed it is. If you can’t have one that’s well designed, I think you are better off just not having one.

  19. Dan Norris says:

    I like to look at new startups as opposed to big brands for that reason. It’s kind of funny to watch how some of the marketers have evolved. The guys (very few) who have made the leap from selling $9 ebooks to building proper startups (multiple million dollar software or services businesses) end up abandoning a lot of those aggressive techniques that they swore would ‘increase conversions’. Have a look at leadpages compared to the old Marketing Show site. No popups, no scroll optin, no welcome gate. They don’t even use LeadPlayer which was their own product.

    The thing is it really depends on how you define a conversion. If you define it as turning a first time visitor into someone who signs up for your emails that’s one way. But if that person leaves after a few weeks and never becomes a lifelong customer then they didn’t really convert. And at the same time you have probably converted a handful of visitors who had the potential to become lifelong customers but you’ve annoyed them and they’ve bounced.

    If you define a conversion as someone who goes from being a first time reader, to a regular consumer, to a supporter and community member and lifelong customer and referrer then that to me is a more useful measure. Of course its impossible to measure so it doesn’t make for a sexy info product.

  20. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks. What does Michael say? check out http://wpcurve.com/wordpress-speed

  21. Alson says:

    Hi Dan,

    I believe what Andy is expressing is that you are saying Uber and Udemy does not have a “logo”. But they do. Their logo is the UBER and Udemy logoTYPE. And in Mailchimp’s case. Both the chimpanzee “logo” and the Mailchimp word are part of the logo of a company.

    This is often a misconception in the industry that logo means image. But that’s completely untrue. A custom font spelling out the name of your company is also your logo. These type of logos are referred to as Logotypes — like Uber, Udemy & Coca-Cola.

    Images — like the mailchimp chimp or the M arches of McDonalds, Apple — is called logomarks. Where the mark itself can be recognized as the brand by itself.

    Some brands have a combination of both — like airbnb, Pepsi & Dropbox — where they may or may not require both logotype and logomark to be present to convey the brand.

    A brand can be well-designed with or without a logotype or a logo mark or both.

    I will also take your advise of “better off just not having one [logo]” with a grain of salt. Brand recognition is a powerful marketing tool. If you are established enough, your logo can make or break you.

    Remember the airbnb logo hype? It’s also a form of adverse marketing. And Apple would probably cause an uproar if they were to remove their Apple Logo — a great example of a brand without the need for a logotype honestly.

  22. Andy Ford says:

    Thanks @Alson, that is what I was getting at (logo/logotype/logomark), but you said it much more eloquently.

  23. Tracy James says:

    Great advice – thank you! I’ve been sticking to my guns about having beautiful design when marketing experts were telling me it wasn’t as important. I’m happy I listened to myself on that one.

  24. SidelinePass1 says:

    Would still love a quick look at http://www.sidelinepass.com.
    Thanks, much!

  25. Dan thanks. Great post as always. Hey mate is that ConvertPress you are using for Website review CTA? And do you know if it will integrate with Campaign Monitor in future? Thanks!

  26. Dan Norris says:

    Yes it is mate and it already does. It’s handy for these post signature opt in forms.

  27. Or Goren says:

    Thanks for all the great info, here and on SPI (even if I do have a big logo that I like…).

    Regarding your point on ads – websites that have something to sell (either physical or a service) can rely on those instead of ads. But how can content-only sites monetize these days? (Even if ads today aren’t a big money maker, it’s still better than nothing)

  28. Dan Norris says:

    Hey mate there are lots of ways to monetize a site that don’t compromise the whole design. There are probably thousands of articles on the topic by people who are more skilled up in that than me. I do it through services (WP Curve service), some people do consulting, info products, memberships, physical products, selling time on Clarity, affiliate links. There are endless ways and most of them you have full control over the design and the customer experience. You don’t with ads and they are generally low on the revenue scale as well.

  29. Dan Norris says:

    Yes I understood what he meant. My point is given that a lot of these brands don’t even use them on their sites (Uber and Udemy do have them), you can hack the same result by not even having one. These companies have spent years and millions of dollars building a brand and a reputation based on the logos. That’s not within reach for a small business but it doesn’t help to do a poor job at trying to recreate it.

  30. Jake Lunniss says:

    Well, that was simple enough.

  31. Glenn Dixon says:

    You said “I was really surprised to see that a lot of the sites, particularly in Pat Flynn’s audience, containing ads.”

    I’m not sure why this would surprise you – that is Pat’s target audience! Content/Internet Marketing. The vast majority of people looking for ‘passive income’ are thinking traffic + adsense. I wish they would all read this article, maybe rethink their direction. Sell a service or sell a product.

  32. Dan Norris says:

    Good point. I guess each to their own but I think there were a fair few people in there with real businesses just following the crowd particularly with the popups.

  33. Finally someone said it! Create a nice looking website! Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but just because you can make sales with your $2 PoS website it doesn’t mean you should.

    Great article as usual Dan.

  34. Andrew Hood says:

    Great article Dan, thanks. I agree with everything you have said especially about ads on websites. I had a guest post recently on a major international blog and right next to my post was an advert for tinder type dating site. Let’s just say the picture did not add any credibility to my post.

    Any advise on testimonials I have a few small ones I would like to use on my site but I’m not sure where to put them. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet too loudly.

  35. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks Steve I appreciate the reply mate.

  36. Dan Norris says:

    Well you aren’t really, other people are which is great!

    Here are a few tips for testimonials

    1. Make sure you include images and they are very high quality.
    2. Ideally the testimonials will be from someone who is closely related to your ideal customer – not just some random person. Someone who your ideal customer looks up to is perfect.
    3. Write the wording yourself after the customer sends you their version (get their approval) but they aren’t copy writers so they don’t do a good job at getting the right messages out. You have to be really careful with language. One of the sites I reviewed for Pat had a video testimonial and the words they were using were just way off, nothing like the type of language that a typical customer would use.
    4. Don’t just include them all in the one place, have them strategically placed to support the rest of the site.

    More tips here.

    http://wpcurve.com/dane-maxwell-the-foundation/

  37. Dan Norris says:

    Hey mate if you post it on Pat’s site I will get to it if I get through the others. I’m going through them in order to be fair.

  38. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks Tracy good to hear.

  39. Thank you so much for this wealth of information. I am very new to blogging and it seems that there is a definite do and don’t about it. This is worth a second and third read. I am jotting down notes on how to improve.

  40. I do appreciate all the advice. My bounce rate was getting quite high due to bloated plugins, huge Canva images and too many bells and whistles on my site. You inspired me to switch from a mobile-friendly theme to a mobile responsive theme.

    The white space does make for much easier reading. But many in my industry (female owned and pet related) feel that type of design is cold and unfeeling. It is tough to get the “warm and fuzzy” feeling from this sort of design, but you have inspired me to work harder in that aspect.

  41. Hey Dan – great post. I especially like point 11. I’ve seen this especially effective when taking on a user persona and asking “while visiting this part of the page, what best removes FUD?”

  42. benwilsonwpx says:

    It is absolutely no doubt that this post has some heavy potential points which every modern web users should think upon. The beginning findings are awesome. But as the post moves further down, it tends to little uncommon like at point 8, but again post manage to grab attention at point 10. Your findings are worth enough. I like the idea of point 10 and completely agreed with that. As a developer and designer from last half decade, I had faced several situations where my clients asked me to suggest something which can make their website more user friendly. I always suggest them some of the rules mention above and also got to know some new facts.

    Thanks for sharing such a nice information. Looking forward to get more informative articles from a experienced entrepreneur like Dan Norris.

  43. Barry Moore says:

    Nice article Dan. Food for thought. Thanks for the great content.

  44. SidelinePass1 says:

    Thanks, Dan. I did post it on Pat’s site very early on. I can re-post or should I just wait?

  45. SidelinePass1 says:

    And thanks for the reply!

  46. Dan Norris says:

    I’ll try to get to them all mate.

  47. John Thomas says:

    Hey Dan… Huge fan…. I was wondering if you are you still reviewing sites? I appreciate you taking the time if you could. Please let me know. Thank you.

  48. Dan Norris says:

    Feel free to post on Pat’s site. I’m still aiming to get to them.

  49. Dan Norris says:

    Good to hear Michelle

  50. Dan Norris says:

    Good to hear Marisa I’m glad it was useful.

  51. Kevin says:

    Hi Dan…thanks for the great post & all the helpful info mentioned on Pat’s podcast. Regarding themes you mentioned that a number of the Themeforest themes aren’t well coded for speed. Could you recommend a few Themeforest themes that meet the requirements of looking good + well coded. Thanks again.

  52. Dan Norris says:

    I don’t really know a huge amount about the specific themes up there since we don’t do new sites. I think it depends a lot on what resources you have access to. If you have a developer or you have access to a good developer for support then you can roll a really basic theme without any of the settings and just make child theme customizations when you want to change things. If you don’t though, then you probably need a highly configurable theme. Those are the ones that tend to be big and bulky.

  53. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the quick reply & help.

  54. ThemesKit says:

    I think if the ad applies to the site then it is fine and the audience appreciates you highlighting products or services that are applicable. But do agree text messages or affiliate links are better than banner ads. Even though both can work effectively if strategically placed.

  55. I read this a year ago….started another website and realized I needed to read it again. Thanks Dan for the excellent information. I violated 3 of the 11.

  56. Kyle Gray says:

    It’s tough to remember all the best practices especially when working on new sites. I’m glad you still find it valuable. Which takeaways did you find the most helpful on this second read?

  57. Every time I design a logo I literally do a “Keep it simple” mantra. Speed is also the worst because I want to put so much into my site…ugh.

    One “aha” moment for me is the CTA/Optin location and how this dictates what kind of reader I get. I found that I dont’ get as many optins when I dont’ liter optins all over the place. BUT, by keeping the number low and near the end of my content, i get MUCH better people. People who open and actually read my emails. The number isn’t as sexy, but the conversions are much better.

    I might have to make this article an annual review 😉

  58. Nick George says:

    All the information of how to build a decent website is very useful for me. Steps which describe in the post are perfect lessons for beginner who wants to design their website.

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