That rule also applies to your Web site.
It can be hard to look at your site critically. After all, you created it. You spent months figuring out what you wanted to include, where everything would sit, and how you would move customers through your site and into a sales funnel. To you, your site is a masterpiece. But you’re not your customer. The real question is – do your customers like your site OR do they secretly want to punch it in the face?
If you’re not sure, here are 7 things you may be doing to drive customers away. You should probably stop.
Too many on-page distractions: It’s very tempting to put absolutely everything on a given page. Throw in all the information you have on a topic, include every video you can steal from YouTube, every resource link you can think of, add links that aren’t related but that provide comic relief, etc. But unless you’re installing it for them, giving something the entire kitchen sink isn’t entirely unhelpful. Always consider the goal of each page when deciding which elements should be added and which ones should be nixed. If you give people too many options or too many distractions, all you’re doing is giving them a reason to get off your conversion path. Be conscious of what you’re putting on your page and where you may be directing them. If you want a customer to click on the link at the bottom of your page, then don’t surround it with 15 other links or send them to YouTube to watch someone fall down the stairs.
Unclear navigation: The more intuitive your navigation, the easier people are going to be able to get around on your site. If you’re rocking an all Flash nav that users will have to bob and weave their cursors around to actually use, you’re probably doing yourself a disservice. If you’re linking to every page on your site FROM every page on your site, then you’re probably not helping them get through your site. Despite what people tell you, they don’t want a million different paths to choose from. Less is more in the navigation. Show off your core competencies and get them in a funnel. If they like your best sellers, they’ll seek out the rest of what you offer on their own.
No landing pages: The experience matters, but your Web site’s goal is to get people to perform a desired action. If the search engines bring them to your page on cowboy boots, then the desired action is to buy cowboy boots. If the engines brought them to your page on designer sunglasses, then the desired action is to purchase a pair of $500 shades they’ll regret in the morning. Either way, without creating specific landing pages (you can call it siloing if you want), you miss out on your opportunity to cater your message directly towards what you want a consumer to do. And without that hand leading them in and speaking directly to their need, consumers may get lost, confused and run away angry.
Load-intensive images: You know what your customers really want to do when they land on your site? They want to wait 45 seconds for your giant home page image to load. It’s true. They’re not at all hurried, nor do they have Internet-induced ADD. They just want to sit there. And wait. And wonder what that picture may actually be. It’s like a game! Yeah, of how much you suck. The search engines are paying more attention to page speed, but no more than your users are. Your users expect your site to not only load correctly, but to do it quickly. If you’re throwing up giant images that they have to wait for, expect them to drive down to your brick and mortar and slap you. I would. This applies even more to your mobile Web site.
Not making links visible: I know, you don’t like putting horizontal lines on your page because you think it breaks the flow and makes everything look “ugly”. However, your customers rely on these visual cues to recognize that a link is a link. Suck it up and do it.
Too many generic photos: Does your business have real employees? Yes? Okay, then use them on your Web site. Do you have a real brick and mortar location? Yes? Cool. Then use a photo of that on your Web site. Do you sell real stuff? Yes? Fantastic! Show me the real stuff on your Web site. The more you rely on generic photos, the more people think that you are made up and do not actually exist. I know the iStockPhoto lady is more attractive than the person who actually answers your phone, but good lighting can really do wonders. Invest in professional photos of your staff and company, and then use them. If there’s a way to NOT use a generic photo, take it.
Auto-playing music: I…uh…just WHY? It is 2010. There is no reason why you should still be auto-playing music on your site. This is not Geocities. If you have a mood you’re trying to convey, do that with original images and through words. If you’re not skilled enough with words to set the right mood, then hire a content creation company that is. But, for the love of God, do NOT auto-play music in your site. Because even if you have some of the best bagels & sandwiches in Troy, NY, your site still feels like porn to customers.
Your Web site is your face to customers. It’s often the determining factor in whether they feel like they can trust you enough to do business with you. Are you giving people what they want or was your site created in a sea of you? If it’s the latter, you may unknowingly be sending people away angry.
What are some site elements that make you want to punch somebody?
About the Author
Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.