So your website is up and running, complete with an amazing WordPress theme that compliments your niche. You’re ready for visitors galore to make their way to the “purchase” section and watch the green pile up in your PayPal account.
Chances are, if you have a website as great as you espouse, they will indeed be making purchases.
But if you have a website that’s driving visitors crazy (and we’ve all had that experience ourselves where we’ve wanted to throw our computer out the window), chances are they won’t return at all. Not only will they go away, but they may write a bad review about your slow-loading, non-user-friendly site. Word gets around and before you know it, your online business could suffer.
When you’re creating your website, make sure it does not do any of these top 10 things that drive visitors crazy (and away). Remember, your web site is a reflection of your own professionalism and overall business, as much as it is of the items you’re selling.
If Your Web Site Does these 10 Things, it’s Probably Driving Your Visitors Crazy (And Away)
1. More Pop Ups than Information
Do you like excessive pop ups when you visit a web site? Didn’t think so. Why then, would your visitors? It’s like unwelcome people stopping by your house, arriving in droves, and then leaving . . . then surprise! They’re back with more rambling and nonsense only to disappear just as quickly. Surprise again, and again and again.
Proud as you may be for your ability to create and insert fancy scrolling pop ups, or even colorful flashing ones, resist the urge to go overboard. If you want one, keep it to one. Any more will have your visitors losing focus. Wayne Porter, co-founder of ReveNews, an online marketing publication, and former senior director of research at FaceTime, a business security solutions provider says to keep sites “crisp, clean, and easy to navigate,” adding that “the ability to search a site is very important,” he says. “Businesses should study their search data to see if there are trends and what to make front and center.”
2. You Give Visitors a Preview, Not a Complete Web Site
No one’s at the movie theater. Visitors are there for the entire show, right down to watching the scrolling credits. If you lead your visitors to your site with the promise that you’re selling just what they need, don’t surprise them with the fact that they need to download software to do so. They’ve gone to your site to find what they want, get it and get on with their day. Extra steps that involve delaying this process are a nuisance. All your bells and whistles should be fully interactive, not dependent on visitors downloading software, filling out surveys or worse, answering some random, off-topic question about applesauce preference.
3. Links that Don’t Link
It’s a good thing the deeper a visitor goes through your web site. That means they’re very interested and more likely to buy from your online business. But when they click on a link intended to bring them directly to your site’s store and it 1) delivers a page error message or 2) takes them to the About Me section, it’s frustrating.
Now the visitor has to do search all over to find where they wanted to be 10 minutes ago, not to mention cringe every time they click on a supposed link. Even worse, error pages associated with broken links lead many to think a site may be insecure or hacked. In fact, it never hurts to periodically pretend you are a visitor, and check your own web site. Does it make sense? Is it easy to navigate? If you have any doubts, so too will your audience and the problem (s) should be corrected pronto.
4. Outdated Content
Many times, visitors get the scoop about you before they even get to your web site. Maybe they’ve talked to others about what you’re selling, read reviews and so on. They know a lot about your products . . . and you. So when they get to your site and see a home page showcasing something that was last year’s popular hot-seller, it could raise eyebrows as to the uniqueness of your site. How can you profess to have the latest and greatest when you still have a holiday greeting (and small picture of a snowman) when it’s summertime? You want your content updated constantly, so ditch outdated messaging (even in your About Me section) and delete old product shots and replace them with new ones.
5. It Isn’t a Dark and Stormy Night
Sure you may be selling eBooks, but that doesn’t mean your content has to have the word count of a novel. We all know a friend or family member that rambles on and on about their life achievements and daily happenings and well, too much is too much. If your web site does not clearly outline what it’s selling and how unique it is with brevity as its backbone, then visitors will feel lost. Your web site should nicely demonstrate what you’re selling, not have to desperately prove itself with wordiness.
Too many words clutter a web site, and instead of showcasing what sets your business apart, actually achieves just the opposite. Alice Bredin, president of Bredin Business Information, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, company that helps large business-to-business companies market themselves to small businesses says, “What is unique about your business? Why should I buy from you?” She says that this is often omitted from web sites because 1) businesses think they’ve covered it or 2) business owners focus on other, more irrelevant details on their site. Finally she states, “You don’t need to write a novel.”
6. You exist. Sort of.
Having a web site clearly demonstrates credibility. But one without contact information changes your rank on the professionalism scale, leaving visitors wondering if they’ve missed something or if you’re even legit in the first place. They search and search and all they want is to ask you a simple question via email. “This is a must, and it’s one small way of building credibility and trust” with the consumer, says Wayne Porter, co-founder of ReveNews, an online marketing publication, and former senior director of research at FaceTime, a business security solutions provider. “A phone number, a street address and even pictures go a long way toward building credibility.” Forms are ok, but many prefer to go through their own default email rather than your system. It doesn’t take long to add contact information, even if it’s just your email address. Being there for your audience beyond your web site tells people you really mean business.
7. No Search Box
Sounds obvious to have a search box, right? But how many sites have you visited looking for a very specific item when 1) the web site didn’t have a search box at all or 2) the web site had a search box that didn’t function. If you don’t have one, add one (many times, it’s free to add) and if you do have one, make sure it works!
8. Slow-Loading Pages
Sometimes, as the phrase goes, patience is a virtue. But when it comes to visitors moving through your site, it if takes more than 5 seconds for a page to fully load, you may have lost them. Forever. People want what they want, and they want it fast, especially online where speed is everything. The right Internet Web Host Provider matters, big-time. A slow-moving page is often synonymous with ineffective products and sends the message that what you have to sell isn’t exciting.
9. Forms That Reset
When visitors take the time to fill in their personal information, hit “next” then see a red “missing information” message, no biggie, right? They simply hit the back button to put in that missing zip code digit, but wait, the form fields are empty. Every. Single. Darn. One. When a back button takes them back to square one by wiping away all the information they just took the time to provide, many times they’ll just move on to a competitor’s web site rather than deal with the frustration of re-entering details again (and possibly again).
10. Zero Third-Party Validation
Gone are the days where having a website, contact information and a business card means everything. It may work in some instances, but visitors want 100% confidence in your online business before they enter credit card information. More than product information and a user-friendly experience, they want to know about the business they’re buying it from. Therefore, third-party validation such as customer testimonials, awards, media coverage and any other positive aspects about your company “forge the underpinnings of trust,” Porter says. They should be presented on your website (without cluttering a page or inundating visitors with them). Porter adds that this also includes a social media presence because of it is a very popular, if not expected, form of validation among a customer base. This includes having links on your web site to your Facebook business page, as well as Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on as well as having your social media outlets on your web site pages.
Stay clear of these web site errors and visitors will be crazy . . . about your site, not because of frustrations over it. Good luck and remember, keep doing your own checks to ensure your online business is running properly (links that link, no error messages, etc.).