If you’re using your website as the online shopfront for your business, the last thing you want to be doing is putting people off. It’s the equivalent of your high-street shopfront having a smashed window, cobwebs all over it and letters missing from your name sign. It’s not a good look and people are likely to go to your much smarter competitor next door.
Keeping users on a website might sound fairly easy and straightforward, especially using the analogy above, but the online world is very, very different from the offline one — particularly when it comes to attention spans and what people find appealing and off-putting. That’s why so many website owners get it so, so wrong.
Here are 10 surefire ways to make sure your potential customers disappear as quickly as possible and head straight for your competitor’s website:
1. An outdated design
Just because you think it looks great, that doesn’t mean anyone else does. Design trends move incredibly quickly online and having an outdated website design tends to send signals to potential customers that your company isn’t all that bothered about its image or keeping ahead of trends.
2. Badly organised content which is difficult to read
It’s tempting to think that potential customers want to know everything about your company. They don’t. They don’t want the history of how Arthur Tipplethwaite founded the company in 1862 from his father’s old apple cart. They want to know how you can help them. What do you offer? What sets you apart? What makes you exciting? Keep it simple. Most people just want a price, timeline and to be sold an ideal.
3. Use of Flash, Java, Microsoft Silverlight…
As a general rule, keep plugins to a minimum. And by a minimum, we mean aim for zero. There’s practically no-one who has every plugin installed on their machine, and if they do they’re going to give up on their computer’s loading time long before they ever get anywhere near the internet, never mind your website. Don’t put people off by making them install a plugin before they can contact you. Again, the rule is to keep it simple.
4. Advertising! Advertising everywhere!
People go online to buy things, sure, but they don’t go online to be sold things. The little gem to remember here is this: People shop or look for companies online because, whether they know it or not, they won’t be hassled by salespeople, won’t be coerced into impulse purchase by clever in-store placement and won’t feel pressurised into buying there and then. They can bookmark the site and come back whenever they like. You can’t really do that with a shop without getting odd looks. If you bombard them with adverts and sales speak, what advantage do they have of using your website? None.
5. Auto-playing videos
Having video on your website is absolutely fine. As long as it’s actually useful and is going to help, knock yourself out. But what I don’t want is to be sat on my laptop in a nice quiet coffee shop somewhere, browsing the internet quite innocently when Arthur Tipplethwaite IV pops up to tell me, very loudly, how his great-great-grandfather started the business out of the back of his father’s old apple cart. The quickest way for me to shut him up is to leave the website. And I will.
6. Confusing or unclear navigation structure
Navigation structure is more of a science than an art. Funnelling visitors through a website in a logical and sensible manner is something which is very difficult to do, but to summarise let’s just say that someone who’s not a web usability expert is best keeping away from it. Again, users want a quick, easy way to get the information or result they’re looking for.
7. Slow loading times
People’s attention spans on the internet are short. Stupidly short. By which we mean you’ve got about two seconds for your website to load else 60% of them will be off elsewhere. That’s brutal, but it’s the truth. What’s more, it’s perfectly achievable if your website is well coded, doesn’t contain lots of plugins or redundant code and uses servers which respond quickly and effectively.
8. Why should I buy from you?
So you’ve told us all about Arthur Tipplethwaite’s eureka moment in the back of the apple cart, you’ve mentioned how you had special industrial premises built in 1972 to cope with the new demand from the huge deal with the Russians and you’ve told us all about your current MD’s favourite sandwich filling. We know you better than we know our own grandmothers. But why should we buy from you? What are the benefits and advantages? Are you cheaper? Better? Unique in some way? Tell us!
9. How do I buy from you?
Not just buy, but how do I do what you want me to do? All websites want users to do something. Even yours. After all, you had it built for a reason, didn’t you? Was it to get people to buy online? To call you for a quote? To enter your competition? To sign up to your newsletter? To put their name on a petition? What’s the endgame? Find out and funnel your users towards it. A strong call to action is always needed to show users what you actually want them to do, then entice them to do it.
10. Server problems or hacking
Sadly, this happens. If your servers are either slow, keep falling over or are vulnerable to hacking, your site’s going to be inaccessible to potential customers. What’s more, it makes your company look unprofessional. If the site’s been hacked, it makes you look careless when it comes to security, too, which is never great when you’re asking people for permission to handle their money.
If any of the above ring a bell with you, it’s time to do something about it. Any one of the ten things above is likely to be putting off a large percentage of your customers, and if you think you might be guilty of more than one you’re going to be doing serious harm to your business’s chances of online success.
We are experts in web design, online marketing and site usability, and we can help guide you through the process of making your website attractive, usable and successful. We’ll help to grow your conversions and really make your website work for you. Web design shouldn’t be an expense; it should be an investment, and it should be an investment which works and pays for itself.
If you’d like to speak to us about updating, revamping or redesigning your website — or even just fixing one or two of the issues listed above — give us a call and we’ll see what we can do.