How many times has this happened to you?
You’re searching Google (or any other search engine) for a service, product, or information, and click on one of the results.
The page opens. But wait. What’s going on here? You decide almost instantly that this website isn’t worth your time.
Frustration sets in, and you hit the back button to continue your search.
This is a common problem, and as a website owner, it’s vital to make sure this doesn’t happen to your potential clients and customers.
You only have about 8 seconds to make a good first impression. Your website is your online storefront. It’s the first impression you make on those you want to reach, and how you convey your brand. So, it needs to be as professional, inviting, and engaging as possible.
In this article, you’ll learn about some of the most common website mistakes and what to avoid, so your website is a source of leads and sales, not a turn-off.
Website Mistake #1
Having an outdated website design or layout that’s not optimized for mobile devices is an error I still see a lot of website owners make.
In the past couple of years, more and more people have been using mobile devices to browse the web, and that trend is only going to continue.
When we’re out and about, we don’t have access to our computers or laptops and rely on our phones or tablets to stay connected.
More than 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be losing out on a lot of traffic and potential customers. And if you have an eCommerce site, this can cost you money in lost sales and conversions.
In fact, Google announced that it will be penalizing websites that are not mobile-friendly in the search engine results pages (SERPs). So, if you want to rank well in Google’s search results, you need to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.
Key Takeaway: Having a responsive website makes sure that your clients and customers have a great and cohesive experience no matter which device they’re using.
Website Mistake #2
Website security is a major factor in instilling trust in your visitors.
Have you ever gone to a website and seen a notice like this:
Chances are you have. And hopefully, your site isn’t one of them. Most people will click away when they encounter this warning.
If you’re collecting any kind of information, even just from a contact form, you need to ensure that you have a secure connection.
This requires an SSL certificate. You can learn more about SSL in this article from HubSpot.
Take a look at the image below:
If your website URL doesn’t have the “s” after “http”, your website isn’t secure.
HTTPS is a secure communication protocol. It protects your information by scrambling the data before it’s sent to the server, ensuring the connection remains private.
Protecting your website isn’t an option anymore. If you have not changed your site to use SSL/TLS and encrypted it with HTTPS, you should do so immediately. An unprotected website is an easy target for hackers and even offers a chance for your competitors to get their hands on your customers or clients.
And just like with point #1 above, Google is penalizing sites without an SSL certificate. It’s hard enough to rank high in search engine results when doing all the right things. So don’t let an unsecured site ruin your chances completely.
Key Takeaway: Having a secure website lets your visitor know that you care about their privacy. And that any information they give you is safe.
Website Mistake #3
No Clear Call-To-Action
You’ve seen it hundreds or even thousands of times. That button on a website that says “Sign up now!”, or “Start your trial now!”. A call to action (CTA) is a clear instruction to your website visitor to take the desired action. It’s powerful.
You might have a great-looking website, but if you don’t have a clear call to action, then people will leave your site without doing what you want them to do. Your visitors are on your site because they’re interested in what you have to offer. They’re looking for information about your product or service.
So, make it clear what action you want them to take. Don’t be afraid to give them a little nudge in the right direction. A clear call to action will move them from one step to the next. And make it easy to take that action.
Ideally, each page on your website should have a single CTA (or at least not more than two), highlighting the most important action for that page. The CTA can be the same for every page. Or it could be something different. For example, your home and service pages might include a “Hire us” button, while your blog page could encourage your visitor to join your email list.
For some examples of great CTA’s and to learn why they work, take a look at “39 Call-to-Action Examples You Can’t Help But Click”.
Key Takeaway: To stand out online and make your website a success, you need to have a strong and clear call to action that encourages visitors to take that next step.
Website Mistake #4
Takes Too Long to Load
When a visitor lands on your website, they want to be able to get where they’re going as quickly and easily as possible.
Slow loading times can be frustrating. It leaves your visitors with a poor impression of your brand.
If it takes too long for your site, content, and images to load, chances are they’ll just leave and go somewhere else.
Many factors can cause a website to load slowly. For example:
- Too many plugins
- Large images or videos
- A slow server
- An outdated website
Have a look at the graphic below for some interesting stats on website speed.
Key Takeaway: A slow-loading site can have a significant impact on your business. This mistake could be costing you valuable leads and sales. Website speed is crucial.
Website Mistake #5
Broken Links and Generic 404 Pages
Few things online frustrate me as much as clicking on a link and finding that it’s not working.
Broken links aren’t just annoying, they can be detrimental to your website and brand’s credibility. It can lead your visitors into thinking that your site is outdated, unreliable, or just plain broken.
It’s also bad for SEO.
So it’s important to go through your website and make sure that all the links are working and directing the visitor to the correct pages, posts, and URL.
When you enter an invalid URL (website address) or click on a broken link, most of the time you’ll be redirected to a 404 error page. This is a page that tells your visitor that the requested page is either unavailable or doesn’t exist.
Generic 404 error pages are a big turn-off. They’re usually boring, unattractive, and have no useful information for your visitor. Many websites use these default error pages because they’re easy to create and don’t require much thought and effort.
You want to give your website visitor more information about what went wrong. Maybe you want to redirect them to another page on your site or offer them one more way to find what they’re looking for.
For a better user experience, set a custom 404 error page. You want to be able to direct your visitor to the right place. If you can’t redirect them somewhere useful, at least make it easier for them to get back on track.
Here’s an example of a generic 404 page:
And here’s the page I set up for my own website:
As a side note, seeing a 404 error page isn’t always due to a broken link (or links) on your website. Sometimes someone just mistakenly types in the wrong URL, for example. So, make sure you’re prepared for this.
Key Takeaway: Broken links and generic 404 error pages make for a bad user experience. Auditing the links on your website should be done at least every quarter.
Customize your 404 page to show your personality and brand. You can link to other parts of your website, or even to your social media accounts. This way your visitors can continue their journey with you even in the event of a broken link or invalid URL.
Website Mistake #6
Poorly Written Content That Doesn't Address Customer Needs and Desires
Business owners are always looking for ways to attract more customers and turn them into paying clients. Poorly written content is one of the most common mistakes that can be detrimental to a company’s success.
When writing your website copy and blog posts, it’s important to focus on what your customer wants or needs from you. Not just what they want from other companies in general, or what you think they need.
You should always put yourself in your user’s shoes. What do they want? What are their greatest challenges and pains? What do they need to know about your business?
Make sure you answer all their questions, and that your copy anticipates any objections. That way you can counter those objections before they happen.
Sometimes when people are reading about your product or service, they don’t understand how it benefits them. The “so what?” technique is a way to answer that question. It’s a simple little technique that makes a big difference.
To find out how this works and put it into practice for your own business, read this article by Neil Patel.
Key Takeaway: Write content that addresses your target market’s needs and desires. Explain what’s in it for them. Avoid jargon, making sure your copy is easy to understand for anyone and not just those in your industry.
Website Mistake #7
You Don’t Have Social Media Links
Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives, and it’s not going anywhere.
Chances are your business is already on social media. So, take advantage of this by having links to those profiles on your website.
This gives you the opportunity to:
- Nurture your leads
- Increase the “know, like, trust” factor
- Build credibility
Most people who come to your website looking for your product or service won’t take action immediately. They might have questions or need more information. Or they might need to know whether they can trust you.
Having an active social media presence allows your potential customers and clients to get to know you and your business in a more meaningful way. And linking to those channels on your website allows you to continue the conversation and stay at the forefront of their consciousness.
Key Takeaway: Having social media links on your website is a great way to keep in touch with your audience. And since they’re already part of their daily routine, it’s easier for them to see what you have going on and engage with you that way.
Website Mistake #8
Missing or Poor Contact Options
It may seem like common sense to have clear contact information and a form on your website. But I still see a lot of small business owners doing this wrong.
The contact section is one of the most important parts of your website. After all, people can’t get in touch with you if they can’t find your contact information. Valuable leads and sales are lost in an instant.
Another common issue I see on business websites is not having that information in a prominent place. Website visitors don’t have the time or patience to go searching for ways to contact you. So, make sure you have contact information and methods visible on every page.
Include it in your navigation menu at the top of your pages and label it clearly. Take the guesswork out of getting in touch with you by using the simple word, “contact”.
A useful feature is to have a live online chat option on your site so visitors can reach out quickly and easily. An added benefit is that these tools can actually increase your conversion rates. There are a lot of companies that offer these online chat apps. Choose one that fits your business needs the best.
I’ve been using Tidio. It’s been a great experience so far. You can check them out by clicking on the image below. (Note: This is an affiliate link.)
Website Tool Tester has an article on finding the best live chat software for your website.
Even if you’re doing everything right, there is one more problem to be aware of. Things on your website break. They stop working as they should. The contact form is no exception.
It won’t always be obvious that your contact form isn’t working. It can sometimes take days or weeks before you even realize that something is wrong. So, it’s important to test your form at least once a month.
To avoid any frustration to your visitor, also make sure that when they submit their form, a success (or error) message is displayed.
Key Takeaway: Adding a contact form or live chat option to your site allows prospects to contact you without leaving the site. When each page has clear contact details, it makes it easy for your visitor to get in touch. Testing the contact form on your website regularly ensures that no potential leads slip through the cracks.
Website Mistake #9
Low-Quality & Random Images
If you want your website to look professional and be taken seriously, then having high-quality images is a must.
Low-quality images can lead visitors to think that your business isn’t credible or raise doubts about the quality of your products and services.
If you have an eCommerce website, this is even more important. People today are more likely to purchase products from a site that showcases the products clearly.
The most important thing to aim for is making sure all your images are relevant to the content they’re connected to.
It can be distracting and confusing when you use random images that don’t make sense being on your website. Your images need to be related to your brand and facilitate the conversion process.
Basically, make sure every photo on your website or landing page conveys how you help customers solve their problems.
Key Takeaway: If your website has low-quality images or photos, you are losing out on sales and potential clients. This also harms the user experience. Increase user engagement by using high-quality, relevant images.
Website Mistake #10
Messy or Confusing Navigation
Navigation is the main way people interact with your website.
You want your visitors to have a pleasant experience, right?
So, make it easy for them to get around. If it’s difficult to find what they’re looking for, or if they don’t understand where they are, the user experience will suffer. Visitors will get frustrated, leave your site, and never come back.
Here are some best practices for navigation:
- Limit the number of navigation links on one page: Having too many links in the main navigation can cause confusion and frustration. Too many options overwhelm us.
- Use established standards: We’ve become used to the way things work and look online. So, don’t try to reinvent the wheel by changing things around too much. For example, visitors are used to seeing the main navigation either displayed horizontally at the top of the page or vertically on the left side of the screen.
- Avoid drop-down menus: While these are a convenient way to group related items, visitors to your website may find them annoying. It isn’t good for SEO either, as it makes it difficult for search engine robots to crawl your website. If you choose to keep your drop-down menu, make sure that users can see that item can be expanded.
- Use clear language: Consider the words that your visitors would use to describe the pages and links. This is not the time to come up with creative labels.
- Have a clear structure: Take time to plan your navigation. It’s important here to have an understanding of your potential customers and their needs. Also, keep search engine optimization in mind.
Key Takeaway: Ensuring that you have a good navigation system in place, will allow visitors to find the content they are looking for without having to search through pages and pages of content. Your website’s navigation can affect your page views, bounce rate, conversions, and even your ranking in search engines.
Your website is your digital storefront. So, you want to make sure it’s effective at selling your products and services. You don’t want to make a mistake that could send prospects to your competitors.
In this article, we’ve looked at 10 of these common website design mistakes that a lot of people still make.
Here are the website mistakes to avoid:
- Not having a mobile-friendly and responsive website that adapts to any device your potential customer may be using.
- A website that isn’t secure and is seen as untrustworthy by both visitors and search engines.
- Not having a clear call to action to encourage visitors to take the next step with you.
- A website that takes too long to load, sending prospects away even before they get to see what you have to offer.
- Having broken links and generic 404 pages that frustrate your visitors.
- Poorly written content that doesn’t address your potential client’s needs and desires.
- Not having social media links that can enhance your credibility and nurture your leads.
- Missing or poor contact options, causing potential leads to fall through the cracks.
- A site with low quality and random images, leading to a poor user experience.
- Messy and confusing navigation that frustrates and turns visitors off.
People do business with people. With those they know, like, and trust. Make sure that your site is designed in a way that effectively conveys your message and encourages people to take action.
So, avoid these small business website mistakes, and start making a good impression.