We’ve said it again and again and again, but it’s still true: your website is your most important marketing tool. Because it’s your one always-on salesperson, it’s the first (and often only) point of contact many of your customers have before they’ve decided to purchase from you. It should represent your best foot forward, an ideal presentation of who and what your company is aspiring to be. Very often, your website is where you’re actually making the sale.
And it’s not going to be doing that if, instead of selling to your visitors, it’s just scaring them away.
Unless you run an extreme haunted house, your website shouldn’t actually be scaring anyone. But it happens again and again; a bad website turns away a great customer who could very well have made the purchase – if the presentation had been there.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a few extremely common mistakes that dramatically raise your bounce rates (people who stay less than five seconds on your website), and you need to make sure you aren’t falling victim to any one of them.
1. It’s Not Mobile-Friendly
There is a very, very good chance you’re reading this blog on your phone. Over 50% of all Google searches are conducted on mobile platforms, which means that most of your potential traffic isn’t viewing your website on a normal-sized computer monitor; they’re staring at it on a little five-inch screen. So your website needs to actually display well on that little screen, or you’re tossing away valuable traffic.
Like, quite possibly most of it.
You’ve got options. You could design separate desktop and mobile versions of your site, but that tends to really screw around with your web analytics and give you a distorted picture of your website’s actual performance. We strongly recommend using modern responsive design which is always optimized for whatever aspect ratio it’s being viewed in. That ensures that nobody is leaving your website because they can’t see anything.
2. It’s Too Wordy
Nobody here needs your life story.
I know it’s tempting to pack your website to the gills with content, but you need to keep it concise; heavily wordy webpages tend to be intimidating – especially since most websites don’t optimize their text layout for the human eye. When you settle in to read a book, you’re expecting something lengthy and in-depth, but when you’re surfing the web, you’re not looking to read through mountains of very-possibly irrelevant text. Keeping your web copy short and to the point helps increase your website’s value by making the important information easily accessible.
And that’s a key thing to remember: websites need to be easy to use. If your website looks like it’s burying what I need under 48,000 words of The Great Gatsby, I’m probably just gonna pick up stakes and find something that’s less of a pain.
Get to the point, and you’ll get more people actually engaging with your content.
3. Slow Load Time
Everyone has dealt with that one website that just won’t load. It comes in dribs and drabs and then barely works once it’s open. A slow website is the fastest way to lose a visitor and a potential sale. Users expect websites to load as quickly as the channel changes, and if yours isn’t doing that, you’re driving away potential business. This isn’t 1997. We expect better.
Keep your website lean, fast, and functional, and remove any extraneous junk like flash loading screens or time (and CPU)-consuming animations. Let your website speak for itself.
4. It’s Overly Complicated
Whether you force users to search through dropdown after dropdown after dropdown or you’ve jammed your homepage with so many buttons that it’s impossible to navigate, overly complicated design sends people packing.
You need to make sure you’re staying focused on the user experience instead of what you want or like; the user comes first. Focus on usability and usefulness more than anything else; it’s more powerful than SEO and more valuable than information overload.
If you’ve got a complicated website because you're laboring under the idea that huge sitemaps are more highly optimized, you’re playing into an outmoded vision of how SEO works; the priority now is on usefulness and search intent. Keep your sitenav simple and your sitemap small, and make sure your options are clear and direct.
Be welcoming. People don’t have a ton of time, so make your website easy.
5. It’s Out of Date
I get that it cost you a lot of money back in 2003, but your outdated site design isn’t a priceless heirloom worth holding onto indefinitely. Your children won’t want to inherit it. Instead, it’s an albatross around your neck, and it makes your website little more than a confirmation of your continued existence (at least as long as your copyright at the bottom of the page is up to date; if not, they might suspect you folded years ago).
A modern design shows people you care about how you present yourself to the world, as well as demonstrates the company’s continued health and vitality. It also shows you have half-decent judgment, as opposed to rocking an Angelfire page straight out of 1998.
Basically, the thing to remember is that your website is your first impression, and if it’s out of touch with the rest of the world, visitors have no reason noy to assume you’re not. An old, rickety, barely functional website that’s still “just fine” is telling potential customers that you simply cannot be bothered. It doesn’t speak well of your judgment, dedication, or commitment to excellence.And that is a first impression you cannot afford to make.