There are web sites out there have really bad design. As the old adage goes, too much of a good thing can do you harm. According to usage stats at internetworldstats.com, close to 240,000 Americans surfed the web at the end of December of '07.
What this means for anyone owning a website is that the potential for reaching a wider audience is easier than it's ever been before. One caveat: It's also easier than ever for businesses to compete for that same audience. The obvious point? .. That you can not afford to loose a visitors' interest in your site.
Do not confuse your audience.
If your site is about selling dvd's then sell dvd's. People come to your site because they are looking for something specific. They want answers, and they are impatient. Be clear from the very first sentence, what it is that you're selling. Decide in advance what image you want to portray and get that information to the reader fast!
Do not let people guess.
Let them know clearly what the links on your site are and be consistent. When your links are all over the place or change from page to page, this makes for a very bad navigation experience. They will leave.
Use flash and sounds moderately.
Flash animation can do wonders for your site but too much of it will make your visitors sick. It's right up there at the top of the list of things that irritate people most. It's annoying and distracting if not done modestly. If you absolutely must have sound effects (bad idea anyway ..) then always give your user a way to opt out or turn off the sound.
Choose your color scheme carefully.
How much is too much? A good rule of thumb that I try to follow is that, minority is always better. Most people are impatient when surfing. Finding a site that you has a bunch of ads flashing around enticing you to buy reminds people of a sales person. Who likes being pressured by salesmen? People have low tolerance.
If your site deals with teaching people how to burn dvd's then you'd better teach people how to burn dvd's. Getting to the point quickly and concisely is of paramount importance. People will not linger on your site if you do not get them what they're looking for, FAST!
How do you make an enjoyable visit?
Start by thinking like the visitor. What would I like to find on a site that sells tea? Well, tea of course!
Keep your content updated. People will not return to your site if you never have anything new to share.
Easy and relevant navigation. No one likes to guess what your links mean and have them be relevant.
Colors. Choice of colors is EXTREEMLY important! Read more on this.
Carry the same theme across all your pages.
The most frustrating thing for visitors to your site is not able to find what they're looking for. I have visited many sites and left as soon as the page loaded because there was too much clutter. Too much stuff spread out all around the page is very confusing. The best types of navigation remains consistent across all the pages of the site.
If a user can expect to find links to the various pages in one location it eliminates confusion to a large degree. Navigation that is poorly categorized or structured is equally bad. Simple is better.
If you have a content based web site then your visitors will expect to find, well .. content. The reason most sites die is due to the fact that they do not update their content frequently enough. If I come to a site week after week and find nothing has changed since I last visited, why would I want to return? It's like reading the same book over and over again.
So if the main purpose of your site is content, then do not let it go stale. If there were no other reason to add new content but for the search engine spiders, then that is reason enough. The search engines will rank your site depending on the amount of relevant content you have. This is not the only way that rank you though, but it is definitely a good way to improve your site ranking.
Bad site design
Inconsistent layouts and bad colors are a turn off to your visitors. Paying attention to your site layout and making use of tasteful design is another hook that will keep your visitor lingering around for a while longer. Make no mistake, fancy graphics with a dull or non-existent content base is no good. Good design will only complete an already good site. Lay out your content spacially and make it easy to read. You can accomplish this with more white space between your content paragraphs.