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Published On: Fri, Mar 15th, 2019

27 Common Reasons Websites Fail

Does this describe you?

You invest time and money to build a website. You buy ads that send traffic to your website. But when you look at your bank balance, you have nothing to show for your efforts. Then you wonder what you’re doing wrong.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

Below are what you may be doing wrong.

  1. No clear offer – Website is a quid pro quo kind of thing. People offer you their attention or money, you offer them something of value in return. Your offer is the first obvious thing they should see when they land on your website. When there is no clear offer on your website, you’ll experience little or no conversion.
  2. Bad website design – A badly designed website is a credibility killer. A study conducted by Rieh & Danielson revealed that people perceive content on aesthetically pleasing websites as having higher creditability than identical content on websites with lower aesthetics.
  3. Host downtime – Downtime is a period when your website is offline because the server you are hosted on is unavailable. Your website could be offline for hours without you knowing. This usually happens when you host your website on a hosting platform that is not reputable.
  4. Slow page loading – In 2007, Amazon famously discovered that a 1-second delay in page load time could cost them $1.6 billion in sales. 10 years later, an Akamai study revealed the loss in revenue is now seven times greater. Website users are impatient and unforgiving. If you website fails to open fast, they browse to another webpage.
  5. Lack of trust indicators – People do business with people they trust, period. Your website is failing because it doesn’t portray your business as trustworthy. Factors that affect a website’s trustworthiness include quality of design, display of physical address and phone numbers, well-written English, SSL certificate, and verifiable social proofs.
  6. No clear call to action – Many websites forget to include a clear call to action. For those who do, the call to action is not obvious or repeated. The action you want your website visitors to take should be clear and obvious from the get-go, otherwise, they will just leave.
  7. Curse of knowledge – When you have mastered something, you unconsciously communicate it to those who don’t know it as if they have the background to understand you. This is the curse of knowledge. If your website contains words and ideas that your target audience don’t understand, they won’t take the action you want them to take.
  8. No continuous tests – The content and design of your website are your best guesses of what might work. Worse, what work today might flop tomorrow. You need to continuously run split and multivariate tests to discover evidence-based patterns that are working to convert website visitors.
  9. No analytics – Without data, making an informed decision is impossible because you won’t know what is working and what is not working. American merchant, John Wanamaker, famously lamented, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Today, you can track and measure almost anything online, including what is happening on your website. But many website owners take this for granted and fail as a result.

  1. Technical errors – There are technical errors that can render your website inaccessible. This is common with websites built with Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Some outdated plugins of these systems can throw up errors you are not aware of. To prevent this, ensure you run a periodic review of your plugins.
  2. Porous website security – If your website security is not strong enough, your website can be hacked and flooded with the dreaded Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that prevents people from accessing your website.
  3. Cross-browser incompatibility – Your website might display beautifully on Chrome but is a disaster on Safari. If your website doesn’t display well, you lose credibility.
  4. Unnecessary distractions – Many website owners pepper their websites with obtrusive pop-ups, overlay ads, slide-in ads, and other annoying inventions. They ruin user experience and turn people off.  
  5. Not doing one thing – Every webpage must do one thing and do it well. The mistake most people make is designing a web page to do many things at once. If your web pages are doing many things at once, you may not get your intended results.
  6. No unique value proposition (UVP) – Why should users patronize you and not your competitors. Your answer to that is your UVP. Does your website present one?
  7. Mobile unfriendly – Many people are accessing your website from mobile devices. If your website is not optimized for mobile access, users will go elsewhere. No one wants to pinch a page to zoom or scroll from left to right so they can read what’s on the page.
  8. Clutter – Today’s website designers seem to be suffering from horror vacui. As a result, they choke the pages of their website with too much information thereby making it difficult to read. If people don’t read what’s on your website, your website will fail.
  9. Poor attention ratio – Attention ratio is the number of links on a particular page to the number of desired conversion goal. Every page should have one goal, one call to action (can be repeated but to the same end goal). A perfect page is one with an attention ratio of 1:1. Some websites have up to 40:1 and that’s why they fail.
  10. Poor message match – Message match is when the message that is on your website is the same message that people saw that made them click over to your website. When people click on “How to Dance”, they should see “How to Dance” upon landing on your website. When this doesn’t happen, people leave your website never to return.
  11. Targeting everyone – No matter how good your offering is, it can’t please everyone. In fact, in trying to please everyone you will end up creating an over-generalized website that pleases no one.
  12. No lead capture mechanism – Not everyone that visits your website is ready to patronize you now. You need to capture their contact so you can follow up on them. Once they are gone, it’s next to impossible to get them back.
  13. Bad first impression – “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” the wise men have admonished us. But isn’t that what we end up doing? It’s an unconscious act. If your website doesn’t make a good impression in the first few seconds, you’ll lose potential customers.
  14. Not looking the part – Certain websites are expected to look a certain way. For example, school websites look quite different from e-commerce websites. People instinctively know this and they will find it difficult to trust you if your website doesn’t like what they expect to see.
  15. Lack of social proofs – Your website looks great, your product is amazing, and the pricing is perfect. But how many people are using your product? This is one of the things that prevent people from doing business with you. Think real reviews, testimonials from well-known people, support forum, case studies.
  16. No gradual engagement – Many websites, especially websites that sell expensive products or services, make the mistake of expecting people to make a big investment in their product the first time out. This is one of the major reasons websites fail. Instead of asking for sale straightaway, offer a free sample or free trial or any small step that won’t cost your prospects anything. The aim is for you to get a foot in the door.
  17. Not designed to be scanned – People don’t read webpages online, they scan. Is your website designed to be scanned by your visitors? If not, you’re losing money big time.
  18. Design that is not intuitive – An intuitive website is a website that people naturally know where to click and what to do. People don’t have the time to figure out how your website works, they just dump it.

Which of these bad practices are you guilty of? Work on them and watch your website succeed.

Author: James Cummings

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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