So you have spent years and thousands of pounds creating a product or service that you want to sell. You have spent almost as long getting your marketing right and you are successfully driving customers to your website. In that case, why aren’t you converting your incoming traffic to sales?

It could be a lot of reasons. A poor product, advertising to the wrong market or even just pricing things wrong. But one thing we come across more than anything else is a bad website that make simple mistakes which drive customers away from websites before customers have even had a chance to see anything of the product or service.

Below are 10 things that might be reducing the effectiveness of your website:

1 – Clutter

My own theories on this are that this is a throwback from the old days when adverts went into the newspaper and people paid for an advert based on size and therefore wanted to get their money’s worth by cramming as much into a small space as possible. This has created  a culture of “I need to fill every available space” which really isn’t the case with online content.

Websites need to show only targeted and concise content that tells your customers what they need to know with as little clutter as possible. With website less really is more. Don’t fill every available space with so much information that your website starts to look like a novel, just give people what they want to know with no added extras.

2 – Bad design

Design is more than just making sure your website looks good, its about making it work visually. There are a number of simple design rules that all web designers know and when these rules aren’t followed your website simply won’t work. Below are some basic design mistakes I see all the time and will drive customers from your site:

  • Using the font “Comic Sans” – The clue is in the name, it was designed for use in comics and should never be used as anything else on a website. It doesn’t make your website look friendly, it makes it look like a joke.
  • Making all content bold – If everything is bold then nothing will stand out. The whole point of making something bold is to make it stand out and if everything is bold then its impossible to draw the eye to what is important. Stick to a hierarchy with your website content with your most important information, like titles and sub titles, large and bold with the rest of the less important stuff smaller and lighter.
  • Low or high contrast – White text on a black background may look nice but if there is too much of it that hasn’t been formatted properly then your users are going to get headaches fast. On the other hand using white writing on a grey background is going to make your website impossible to read for some people. Consider your website carefully to be sure that everything is easy to read and won’t hurt people’s eyes.

These are just a few of hundreds of common design mistakes made on websites. I could go on all day but I will leave it there for now. There is lots of help available out there in blog form and other ways to help you get this right but I would recommend using a professional designer for your website.

3 – Using Flash

Once upon a time it was okay to use Flash, in fact it was encouraged. Flash websites gave you the ability to create really exciting and interactive websites with a lot of complex animation that would really wow your users. But they were large in file sizes, slow to load and most of all, Apple didn’t like them.

The world is going mobile and when Apple decided not to include Flash support on their devices the use of Flash on websites stopped almost over night. Now if you want to be taken seriously as a website you need to get your information across in HTML, CSS and maybe a little Javascript. Flash is either not going to be seen or it will be ignored as it takes too long to load. It may look good but steer clear of Flash in your websites.

4 – Loading media when the page loads

I’ve spent  a long time developing my new advert, wouldn’t it be great if I could embed it into my website and then play it instantly when people come on the page? NO!

People don’t like things to pop up at them or just happen when they haven’t actively done something to make it happen. When your website starts to do things on its own then users get uncomfortable and media is definitely one of these things. If someone wants to watch your video they will click on it, they don’t want sound to suddenly start blaring from their computer or a website to start buffering a video as soon as it loads.

But YouTube does it, surely if it’s right for them it’s right for me? YouTube is one of the biggest websites in existence and it’s designed as a media player so that is what people expect when they come onto the site. People know it is going to happen, they expect it and so they are comfortable. When they are searching for your business, automatically playing media is going to frighten them away.

5 – Overly complicated navigation

The whole point of navigation is so that people can find their way around your site in order to find the information they are looking through. If your navigation is so complicated that users feel that they have just travelled through a maze and battled with the Minotaur at the end in order to find what they want then they are going to look somewhere else.

The easy rule of thumb to remember is the “three clicks rule”. Your users should be able to get to any page on your site in no more than three mouse clicks, or three steps. A simple navigation tool is the easiest way to do this.

6 – Forgetting mobile websites

Every day, the amount of traffic that comes to the internet from a mobile phone or tablet increases. Already more emails are read on a mobile device than from a computer based browser and general websites aren’t going to be long behind.

If your website isn’t optimised for mobile viewing then you are going to be losing a large portion of your potential market. Look into topics like mobile ready websites and responsive design to see how you get yourself ready for this today.

7 – Non-relevant content

People usually look for your site for a specific reason and one of the biggest things that will drive people away from your site is if they can’t find what they want. This can be from poor navigation or people simply looking in the wrong place but more often than not it is because people’s websites are filled with things that simply aren’t relevant to what potential customers want to see.

Be precise in what you want to say and don’t feel the need to pad out your information with things that simply aren’t relevant.

8 – Using big words

I know, big words and professional jargon make you sound smart, right? They make you sound professional. They show that you know what your talking about.

This is all true but what they also do is alienate your customers. Most people aren’t looking for a technical manual or a lecture about something, they want easy to read information that will get the point across. Numerous web surveys have found that people respond best when they don’t feel talked down to but at the same time don’t feel patronised. With that in mind write as you would want to be talked to. Use a conversational tone and often people find that writing in first person tends to make people find the content more relatable.

9 – Too much advertising

People have most likely come to your website to see what you have to say or find out about your product or service. This isn’t the time to inundate them with adverts that just serve as distractions to your content. With things like Google Adwords, adverts can be a good revenue stream for your website but not if you over use them. If your adverts are more prominent on the page than your actual content then people are not going to pay attention to what you have to say and probably won’t be coming back for more.

10 – What do you do?

This is the biggest problem I have found with websites today; I can’t find out what people do? One of the key bits of information any website can impart is a precise description of what people do. If you have an app that predicts the weather then I need to know that the moment I click onto your site. There is nothing more annoying than going to a site with a lot of good looking pictures and some interesting words but still not quite knowing what a company does.

Let your customers know who you are and what you do right from the start and then it’s time to get into more detail on other things.

 

Hopefully this information will be of help to you. As always this list is anything but complete as there are many more ways than this to kill your website’s effectiveness, so if you have any other mistakes you think people should be aware of then please post them in the comments below.