Any company that invites online quotes, reservations and bookings is more than likely to start the process from a sidebar on their homepage or inside a large header. This is fine, but there are common design mistakes that go along for the ride.

1. Too many fields

asking for information when someone has just arrived to the homepage is like a salesperson pouncing on a customer as they enter a store. Marketers insist on it. Site visitors don't, unless you've got an amazing offer.

2. Placing Trustmark images around the application

Some sites pile them up on top, the sides and underneath in an effort to show authenticity. This is overkill.

The one image you want to be seen clearly is the "Submit" button.

3. Putting site search next to your lead application

Especially don't try this when your application is a search or browse one. (Yes. I've seen this done.)

4. Piling forms, app, search

Separate your forms, apps and search fields from each other.

A site search and newsletter signup are not likely as important to your bottom line so avoid piling everything into one spot on the page.

Think: What do I want visitors to do first?

Look at where your applications lives.

There is the left sidebar with tasks, Trustmarks and maybe a form.The middle has content, embedded task links, links to inside pages, the value proposition and more content. The right sidebar has promotions, newsletter, brochure, catalog, quick links and more Trustmarks.

What do you want visitors to do first?