I’ve looked at hundreds upon hundreds of websites. Your website is one of the most important factors in convincing a potential customer to do business with you. Do it wrong, and they’re leaving. Do it right and they might come in.

I’m a web Certified Usability Analyst, which means I’ve been trained in web usability, by Human Factors International. It’s a rigorous program that requires certification by exam after a deep training program.

So what?

I’ve said for a long time that your website is your customers’ first – and quite possibly last – impression about your business. The most common button is the “Back” button, meaning “I’m outta here!”

Even if you’ve done a good job of marketing your website or applying SEO tools to generate traffic, you may be losing potential customers who never bother contacting you.

What are the key features that all websites must have?

First, your website must have a single horizontal menu bar that is consistent across all web pages. The horizontal menu bar takes the least amount of real estate. Vertical menu bars reduce the amount of space on each page horizontally.

Consistency is crucial, because the menu is the one thing that ties the entire website together. If your menu structure changes from page to page, it’s going to cause confusion, and visitors will get frustrated and leave.

How do you want people to connect with you?

The biggest mistake I see most often is that business owners make me hunt for their contact information. If I as a visitor have come to your website, decided I want to engage, but I have to hunt for your contact information, I’m probably going to get frustrated at best, or just leave.

If you want me to engage by phone, don’t put your phone number at the bottom of the page (54% of people won’t scroll down to find it), or worse, on just the Contact page.

There’s a local restaurant, First Street Alehouse, that I like to order take-out lunch from, but it drives me crazy, because I have to hunt for the phone number on their website. Can you find it?

If you want me to engage in another way, like sign up for a newsletter, this is called a “call to action” which we’ll talk about in a future article. But please make it obvious how I should connect with you. Having the call to action to the right of the screen is less obvious than in the top left. Since we in the western world read from the top left corner, that’s the best place to put it on every page.

Do you want people to find you (like the restaurant above), make sure I can find your address!

Is your website mobile-aware?

By the end of 2013, there supposedly are more mobile devices on the planet than people. I myself have a laptop, an iPad and an iPhone, and I use them all, all the time. This is in addition to the two desktop computers that I own – and use – every day.

Is your website mobile aware? Does it automatically reformat itself to fit the form factor of the device that’s visiting? If not, your customers are having to pinch the screen and try to use your menu to navigate your site from their mobile device.

Go to http://quirktools.com/screenfly/ and test your website on mobile devices. What does it look like? Does it look OK? If not, fix it.

A local restaurant that my wife and I love, Casa Orozco actually has a mobile-aware website. But they don’t have the stupid PHONE NUMBER on it anywhere! If I’m out walking around downtown, and want to make a reservation, I can’t find their phone number on my phone! How ridiculous is that?

Think about what your customers want when they access your website from a mobile device.

A friend of mine, Dan Karas, who has a printing business, Acclaim Print has done a great job. On his mobile site, he gives me three options: call him, get a map to his office, or e-mail him. Brilliant. (Go ahead, check it out on your cell phone.)

So what?

If you alienate your customers before they even come into your “store” or they can’t figure out how to get in touch with you, you’re losing money. Period. End of story.

Fix it.