"I know enough to be dangerous." Ever heard that one? Ever said that one? It's a common thing to say, but sometimes we should take it literally.
There are thousands of possible mistakes, but most of them are small and they do no long-term damage. But then there are the big screw-ups, the real disasters.
Here are 13 easy steps that are sure to destroy your website—choke off traffic, kill leads, and push your stats into the basement. They're listed in general order from bad to worse, from serious flaws to utterly devastating ones.
1. It's all about you. Your website should focus on you. Use language like "leading," "top," and "best" so visitors know how great you are. Remember, your website is an advertisement, not a platform for communication. The more self-centered, the better.
2. Buy an email list. Here's a quick way to hurt your brand and waste money at the same time. It's so obvious, I didn't even add it to my recent list of email marketing mistakes, but it gets a mention here. Remember when you told your mom you wanted to be a spammer someday? Now's your chance.
3. Nevermind mobile. Sure, a lot of people are using phones to access websites today, but that's no guarantee that they will be tomorrow. Responsive design takes time and costs money. Why bother? This mobile thing might be just a fad...
4. Add keywords and jargon. Write long pages filled with jargon and keywords. The more keywords the better. Don't worry about editing, formatting, internal links, or calls to action. Use big, dense paragraphs. Use a fun font like Comic Sans to keep people interested.
5. Add more stuff to your homepage. There's always room for one more offer. Add bright, eye-catching graphics to every part of your homepage. Make everything really big, especially your logo. Use animations on several parts of the page to make sure people see everything.
Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a Web design company in Chicago. He's also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing. Connect with Andy on Google+.
LinkedIn: Andy Crestodina