The internet is a shopper’s paradise, filled with store fronts at every turn. If one store front doesn’t look interesting, then the shopper can just move on to the next one. But if you’re committing any of these errors, you can be sure you’re actively driving your visitors away.
1. Tired, faded merchandize = visibly outdated content
Small and medium-sized businesses often scream “outdated” the minute you land on their websites. For example, they’ll have a News section, but the last item will be almost a year old. This usually coincides with the finishing date of the last intern, who – let’s face it – was probably the only person in the company who understood the complicated content management system anyway…
Solution: Regular blogging keeps your website up to date and gives visitors a reason to keep stopping by. Read why a blog is so important.
2. Grotty window displays = a design that repels visitors
A new visitor will make up their mind about your website very quickly – in a mere 50 milliseconds, according to one study. Of course, this can be good if your website looks inviting enough to make them want to stay.
Don’t forget too that your website’s overall appearance includes any advertising. The most visually appealing websites tend to have advertisements that are unobtrusive and seem to blend seamlessly into the site’s design. Make sure you monitor what you’re advertising too – Google AdSense can throw up some pretty inappropriate ads at times.
Tip: Use attractive images to break up solid blocks of text, but remember that poor quality, pixelated or grainy images do your website no favors. Badly re-sized images look sloppy too, and visitors just won’t wait around for large images to load.
3. Salesman’s sleazy smirk = shady online presence
You know those pushy street vendors you sometimes see on vacation – the ones who are really aggressive in their efforts to get you to buy? These guys are such a turn-off because they seem untrustworthy and don’t make you feel good about parting with your hard-earned cash. Come back with a problem tomorrow and you just know these guys will have moved on to the next town.
A website can seem just as dubious, usually if one of the key elements are missing, so make sure your references and About section are easy to find.
Solution: Try to give your visitors a picture of the human being(s) behind your website. Ideally, use your full name and photo and if your business is a real, bricks-and-mortar company, tell your visitors something about your employees and the location in which you operate. In other words, tell the story of your business. All of this creates trust and is important to build customer relationships. Read more about this here.
4. Noisy sales cries = text too dense
The internet is still largely text-based, and you should be gearing your text towards your target audience. Attention spans are short when reading from a screen, and most surfers will quickly lose their patience with complicated prose. Light, easy-to-read humor often works well and text blocks should be divided into easily digestible chunks, with headlines that draw your readers in.
Tip: Avoid spelling errors and make sure you’re getting your message across by having your copy checked by a second pair of eyes (this is called the 4-eyes principle). If you want to publish different language versions of your website, do yourself a favor and leave the translations to a professional. Yes, Jacques the French exchange student may be delightful and understand English quite well. But no, he will not do – it takes far more than this to make a good translator.
5. Merchandize in a heap = poor navigation
You know those chaotic discount stores where the merchandise seems to be thrown on the shelves? This makes it very hard to find what you’re looking for and is not what you want for your website.
Solution: Make it as easy as possible for visitors and search engines to find things on your website. Navigation should be targeted to the needs of your visitors and not to the internal needs of your business. Put yourself in the position of a clueless visitor when planning this.
You should also try to avoid being too creative in your navigation area. Take, for example, a navigation concept based on questions:
WHAT? | WHO? | WHY? | WHERE?
That might seem amusing at first glance. But truth be told, most of your visitors will not have the time or the inclination to make the mental effort required to convert your questions into a more common format, which might look something like this:
SERVICES | ABOUT US | BENEFITS | CONTACT
A site map will enable search engines to find their way around your site too. You can usually generate one of these automatically with your content management system or website builder.
6. An entrance door that’s jammed = no mobile-friendly website
Imagine it’s only possible to enter your store if you wear sneakers. Customers that wear leather shoes, sandals or boots have to look at your merchandise from the outside windows. That’s more or less what’s happening if you don’t offer a smartphone-friendly version of your website.
We, for example, receive about 15% of all traffic through smartphones and tablets, which is a pretty average number these days. One year ago it was only 9%, which means it’s almost doubled. A mobile-friendly website will adapt the content to the screen size of the device to make it more accessible.
Tip: Luckily, all modern website builders these days feature a mobile-friendly website-version. For more details please check out our website builder reviews.
7. Lacking Security: No SSL Encryption
If you use a website builder, you won’t have to worry about this. Most website builders use the HTTPS protocol by default. After all, they know very well that your visitors do not want to see this in their browsers:
Can you think of any other mistakes that are best avoided? Leave a comment and let us know!
Foto: Flickr | Zannalyons