It may be hard to imagine, particularly if it’s bringing in sales, but your website may be damaging your business: you may not only be missing sales but turning potential customers into detractors who actively recommend friends avoid your site. And all this without even knowing it. Here’s how it happens – and how better web design can fix it.
Your sales funnel is too long and complicated
Even reading all the way to the end of that heading was a chore, right? Every extra page between ‘buy now’ and ‘your order is complete’ costs you sales. This is why sites like Amazon have put so much energy into offering ‘one click’ services. Sadly, most website owners don’t record missed sales, and if they do they don’t record where the transaction failed.
Your website works for you
As a manager or business owner, you’ll very rarely experience your website from the point of view of a customer so you may not see the aggravations and problems that drive your customers to your competitors. For example, the product hierarchy may seem completely natural to you but seem like a frustrating maze to some of your customers.
You don’t have landing pages
You’ve done your SEO, bought some ads, and you’re at the top of the Google results page. A customer searches for ‘Brighton hotels’ and gets your hotel booking site homepage. What do they do next? That’s right: they click away and go to the next result down rather than type their search query in again.
Your site looks dead
This is a content issue more than a web design issue, but a site which hasn’t been updated looks dead and will drive customers away in droves. It’s hard to have faith that a company which hasn’t taken down a note on its homepage wishing their customers a fun and prosperous 2014 will ship a product quickly. If you’re going to have a company blog, news feed, Twitter account or anything else, update it regularly.
It doesn’t work on mobile
We live in the future now, where most Brits are accessing the web from a smart phone, tablet or other mobile device. If your site doesn’t perform just as well on these devices as it does on a laptop or desktop, your customers will shop elsewhere. Web design teams have been creating responsive websites for years now – it’s time you joined the next wave.
You’re stuck in the ‘90s
Simple, clean design is one thing but a site that harks back to the early days of the web, with blocky fonts, poor quality pictures and too many pointless animations won’t improve your credibility. In many ways, your website is the public face of your image and your web designer is your stylist. Encourage them to give you a brush up and a new style – you’re worth it.
Your search function doesn’t work
Google can answer almost any question in less than a second, so modern website users have little patience for a Basingstoke shoe store with a website that can’t find ‘shoes’ or their opening hours. Make sure you’ve got a good search function and a clear tree structure to let customers browse easily. After all, the people who don’t quite know what they want are likely to spend when they find it!
Key information is missing
What time do you open? How much does shipping cost? Are returns free? How do I get hold of an actual person if I have a problem? Again, this is a case where content and web design need to work hand in hand to make sure that not only is all the essential information available, accurate and updated regularly but that it’s also easy to find for a typical user.
It’s boring – or too busy
The sweet spot between ‘starkly bare’ and ‘far too crowded’ is constantly shifting, but it’s one you need to aim for. The modern web is trending towards clean, crisp designs – but this isn’t universal. Just as some homes and businesses thrive on homey, cluttered or retro looks, some websites do to. Make sure yours is appropriate rather than overwhelming.
It doesn’t suit your customers
You can’t please everyone all the time, but make sure that your web designer is able to read the zeitgeist and create a site which suits your client base and industry. While pink with animated flowers and unicorns might be inappropriate for a military surplus shop, it might be equally off tone for a knitting shop.