Many people assume that website design is a piece of cake, but when you look a bit deeper it soon becomes apparent that if you want a website that is capable over converting visitors to customers, that you have to be sure to do things ‘just right’.
The biggest mistake that many companies (and web designers make) is to focus on creating a design that looks great rather than one that will maximize their conversion rates. Some of these ‘mistakes’ are quite minor, but they can really stop a site converting.
So what do these ‘mistakes’ add up too? Well in short, would you believe, they make it difficult for customers to buy, often simply overwhelming visitors with too much information or asking too many questions.
So what are these mistakes and how can you avoid them…
With consistent effort, you can dramatically increase the amount of traffic, leads, and sales your website produces. It starts with identifying each of the mistakes that hurt your website.
Let’s take a look at those mistakes.
Basic design errors
- No responsive design
Responsive design has been listed as the most important feature for a website.
That’s a pretty big claim to make, but it makes sense when you realize that responsive design makes your website accessible to everyone regardless of their device.
Visitors viewing your website on desktops, smartphones, iPads, and PS4s have an experience that’s optimized for their device, which, as it turns out, is what Google recommends.
- Site not responsive
Because of the rise of the mobile phone and tablet device, Responsive design is now the most important part of website design. This nothing to do with SEO, but it is all to do with allowing users to be able to see your website properly.
- Poorly Formed 404 pages
404 pages are known as the silent traffic killer, and if they are not properly designed to help users find what they want, then they can really hurt your conversions, most users simply hitting the back button, and thus leaving your site never to return.
- The Dreaded Carousel of Images on the Home Page
Carousels are used a lot on sites these days, but they can reduce conversion for the simple reason that some users think they are banner ads and thus are ignored.
Other users are distracted by the relentless scrolling images and thus draw attention from the real ‘meat’ of the site..
In short it is never a good idea to distract your users, it always being better to get them to focus on what you want to.
- Slow websites.
The first thing to understand is what is meant by ‘slow’. This of course is all in the eye of the beholder, but the data shows that if a site takes more than four seconds to load it people are more than likely to leave. The same data also showed that three seconds was even better!
Also, whilst a slow site can make people leave, it can also make it harder for them to be found in the first place, Google penalising slow sites and placing them lower down in the search rankings.
Even this is more complicated than it may seem, Google using lots of different metrics to assess how slow a site is. Some of these are listed below:-
- Time to the first byte (TTFB). This is the time it takes for the server to respond with the first bit of information. The idea here is that the faster a site responds, the faster it will probably be serve the rest of the page.
- Visually complete. This is the time it takes to load the full web page and thus is fully available for your user.
- Document complete. This is different from the ‘visually complete’ time, as even though they may be finished in one way, there are lots of other things loading in the background, this code being needed if the page is to work.
- Using a Slow server
Hosting comes in many forms and some are cheaper than others. But beware, if you pay too little you are likely to find your website has been placed on a server that is also being used to host too many other sites.
The time that Google looks for is less than 200ms, this being almost the same as TTFB.
- Using too many fonts
Using too many font types and font styles creates confusion and makes it difficult for users to work out what your real message is. One well understood phenomenon is that if you repeatedly change the fonts on the page you decrease something called cognitive fluency, this being just like a visual speed bump (something that breaks your visitor’s focus).
- Unfocused content.
Poor content marketers often focus on creating content that tells the visitor just how great their company is, when what it should be concentrating on is meeting the needs of their visitors, their desires, goals, fears, frustrations, and more importantly answering their problems.
- Content that us not scannable.
The problem that all content writers face is that the average website visitor has only enough time to read just about a quarter of the text on the page.
This does not mean you should create short copy, just that you make it easier to read. This means that you should use
- Descriptive sub-headings
- Short paragraphs (just two or three sentences)
- Bold, italicized, and other forms of highlighted formatting
- Bullet points and numbered lists
This kind of content makes it easier to scan and is thus far more likely to be read by your visitors.
- Poor use of whitespace
Used well, whitespace increases comprehension, improves overall readability, whilst also increasing attention, and maximizing clarity. Putting it simply, if there isn’t enough whitespace, the text on the site becomes just too overwhelming and the visitor can be ‘shocked into leaving’.
The above only covers 10 points, there are many more and we will deal with those another time.